In the completely awesome 4-2 win over the Blackhawks last night, winger Cam Janssen got into a pair of fights, the second one earning him a game misconduct and his 20th penalty minute of the game. Nice effort, sir.
In the comments of the game wrap, super commenter Spectr17 mentioned that Janssen got his arm out of his sleeve to give him an advantage in the fight. Here's the bout:
As you can see, about half way through the scrap, Janssen uses his right hand to hold his sleeve to pull his left arm out of the sleeve. And then Janssen starts swing. HUGE. In fact his punches are so big and out of control, he loses his balance and pulls both of them down to the ice. Even though he didn't capitalize on it, pulling his arm out definitely gave Janssen the advantage.
As Spectr17 mentioned, it's a move kind of reminiscent of Rob Ray, one of the biggest punchers in the league in the last 30 years. Ray had a reputation for not using the fighting strap in the back of his jersey. The end result would be the opponent pulling on the jersey trying to slow Ray's manic punches. And as the guy pulled, Ray's arm was still free to wail away. He also had a reputation of totally losing his shirt, fighting bareback. Watch this highlight reel. There's at least two or three fights where he did the arm slip:
That guy was a fucking maniac. And he did every thing he could, in the rules and against them, to get an advantage in a fight. He's like the godfather of the shirtless fighter. There is no "Show us your tits, Cam!" without Rob Ray. And we also wouldn't have the "Rob Ray Rule" in the NHL, the requirement for players to tie down the back of their jerseys. Under rule 56 in the NHL rule book:
A player who deliberately removes his sweater prior to participating in an altercation or who is clearly wearing a sweater that has been modified and does not conform to Rule 24A - Players' Jerseys shall be assessed a minor penalty for Unsportsmanlike Conduct and a game misconduct. This is in addition to other penalties to be assessed to the participants of an altercation.
A player who engages in fisticuffs and whose sweater is removed (completely off his torso), other than through the actions of his opponent in the altercation or through the actions of the Linesman, shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty.
A player who engages in fisticuffs and whose sweater is not properly "tied-down" (sweater properly fastened to pants), and who loses his sweater (completely off his torso) in that altercation, shall receive a game misconduct.
Let's talk about the bold text for a moment. Slipping the arm is not a violation of the letter of the law, the completely off his torso phrase, but it is a deliberate action that doesn't happen as a part of the opponent's actions, the spirit of the law. Interesting to see if this catches on if the rule is eventually changed to intentionally removing any part of the jersey.
So it's interesting to see other fighters pulling the arm slip. With the advance of the jab punch using the hand grabbing the jersey collar (I hate that move by the way, seems like a cowardly punch), the arm slip is the perfect counter. Here's a perfect example. A guy named Zenon Konopka (sounds like a robot from the Terminator series) does the arm slip on Michael Blunden. And Konopka uses the technique to dominate the fight and end it early. Here, watch:
With the advent of online fight videos like the ones posted by our friends at Fried Chicken's Hockey Fight Site, fighters can watch and study their opponents. They see what other guys are doing and what's working. They know what guys are likely to do and what their strengths and weaknesses are. It's like studying a goaltender in shootouts or hitters watching a pitcher's delivery in baseball. Except we're talking about trying to find a way to hurt another player, or keep from getting hurt. And it also leads to copycats.
Obviously the tie-down rule with the backs of jerseys is there for a reason. And slipping the arm is for now a legal way to circumvent that rule. I'm not sure how a guy defends against the technique, but it will be itnerestin got see how many other players adopt the slip and what fighters come up with to combat it.
So commenters, what do you think of the arm slip? Legal? Cool new way to see big punches? Underhanded? Let us know down below.