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Hawks enforcer John Scott contends instigator rule is a code-breaker

John Scott (fighting with Kings’ Willie Mitchell) says th“players enjoy policing themselves.”  |  John J. Kim~Sun-Times

John Scott (fighting with the Kings’ Willie Mitchell) says that “the players enjoy policing themselves.” | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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The facts: 7:30, CSN, 720-AM.

Updated: February 13, 2012 9:23AM

If the instigator rule were an opposing player, John Scott would happily punch it in the face. The Blackhawks enforcer dislikes it that much. To him, it’s taken the honor — or the code — out of hockey.

“As a whole, the players enjoy policing themselves,” Scott said. “I know I can’t speak for everyone, but I think the majority doesn’t really care for the instigator rule.

“It’s increased the amount of dirty hits and dirty plays. It’s taken out the honor and respect for the guys.”

No team has been a victim of the instigator rule, which aims to prevent players from jumping others, more than the Hawks recently or this season. After Steve Montador and Jamal Mayers were deemed the instigators of separate fights Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Jared Boll, the Hawks took the NHL season lead with four instigators.

In every situation, the Hawks responded to a hit they felt was dirty or, at the very least, questionable. The most worthy was Scott’s after he pummeled Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland for hitting rookie Marcus Kruger in the head Dec. 20. Two days earlier, Bryan Bickell received an instigator after he went after Calgary Flames defenseman Cory Sarich for a hit on him that he thought was high.

All the penalty minutes that come with it — a 10-minute misconduct, five for fighting and two for the instigator — have put the Hawks in precarious positions, especially with a penalty kill that is searching for consistency. But in every situation, the Hawks feel they did the right thing.

“I like how we stick together,” coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Hawks made it a point to add players this offseason — including Mayers and Montador — who are more willing to fight. Montador also received an extra two minutes Tuesday for unsportsmanlike conduct for instigating with a shield on his helmet.

“What one of the referees told me is what appears to be a legal check, the person that approaches gets the instigator,” Montador said. “I didn’t see it from my angle as a legal check. I thought he left his feet or a foot at least.”

“I was trying to stick up for a teammate [and] I feel like he kind of went out of his way on that hit,” Mayers said.

The problem is that there seems to be some confusion over what accounts for the instigator. In all four cases, the Hawks fought willing opponents. The main issue is that Hawks traveled distances to do so, which is forbidden.

“We both were willing and engaged,” Mayers said. “I didn’t go out of my way, but I guess they changed the rule and I’ll have to be a little smarter.”

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