Court: Workers' comp covers hockey-fight injury

NORFOLK, Va. -- A former minor-league hockey player who
injured his shoulder in a fight he claimed his coach told him to
start is entitled to workers' compensation, a Virginia appeals
court ruled.

The Virginia Court of Appeals upheld a Virginia Workers'
Compensation Commission finding that "fighting is an integral part
of the game of hockey" and that Ty A. Jones' injury arose in the
course of his employment as an "enforcer."

Jones' former team, the Norfolk Admirals, had argued that the
fight amounted to willful misconduct and that he was not entitled
to workers' compensation.

L. Steven Emmert, a leading Virginia appellate attorney and
hockey fan with no connection to the case, suggested the finding
Tuesday was so obvious that it does not amount to much as a legal

"This court finds that fighting is an integral part of
hockey," Emmert said. "Thirty million Canadians could have told
you that." But he added: "Maybe clubs will be a little more
careful about sending a goon -- an enforcer -- out to thunk somebody
in the head."

Jones, a right-wing power forward with the Admirals, instigated
a fight with an opposing player during a game in 2002. Jones said
the coach told him to "go get" the player.

Jones got hurt, and an orthopedic surgeon later put six screws
in his right shoulder. The athlete wore a sling for almost six

In 2004, Jones was awarded workers' compensation for the seven
months he underwent rehabilitation. The ruling did not give a
dollar amount.

Jones played for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks in the 1998-99
season and, after leaving the Admirals, for the Florida Panthers in
2003-04. A Panthers spokesman did not immediately return a call
inquiring about Jones' whereabouts.

Admirals spokesman Alan May declined to comment. The coach at
the time of Jones' injury, Trent Yawney, now coaches the

"No Blackhawk coach would ever intentionally send a player out
to fight with someone," said Blackhawks spokesman Jim DeMaria.