(In case you missed in the STLGT paper)
Fighting in the NHL. Dying artform or already six feet under ground? Is it good or bad for the game? Will the NHL outlaw it completely? Should they? My answer is easy. Fuck no. Why are referees and the NHL trying to get rid of something that helped give the sport its original identity? Why probe through a sport's DNA and take something great out of it?
The Hockey News posted a recent column on why fighting should be banned in the NHL and St. Louis Blues fourth line grunt Steve Ott replied with this juicy tweet.
@TheHockeyNews well it's officially time to unfollow, many of your writer's views ruin our sport.— Steve Ott (@otterN9NE) November 14, 2015
For once, the Gingerbread man gets it right. Hockey was built on enforcers keeping the ice a safe place to skate for their most talented players. Ryan Reaves and Ott keep it safe for Vladimir Tarasenko to do unreal things. While I don't need ten guys on the ice dropping sticks and gloves and bashing each other's face in, I need a hint of the old days to stay alive out there. Tony Twist once called them "sheriffs" out there, keeping the order and bashing anyone who broke the unwritten rules.
So when we reached game #15 on the schedule and Reaves hasn't had a single fight and Ott tried to get into fights only to have refs break it up, I get angry. Is this the fighters quitting on the concept out of fear of a ref breaking in or is the league just frowning on the idea? Why do this? Why tarnish one of the best parts of the game? A part of the game that energizes your team and fans alike?
The NHL is taming the rough sport down more and more. The instigator penalty has pushed some away from fights. Some coaches are moving against it. Refs get in there too quick. Why? Who doesn't want to see a couple 4th line beasts go at it? Seeing David Backes and Jonathan Toews drop the mitts is always a welcome sight, but watching two thugs blast each other with flush shots is a unique pleasure. Remember Twist and Bob Probert beating the crap out of each other? Did that hurt the game? Tony with his mitts flying and Probert's taped fingers firing back as the two teams looked on like a group of kids watching two older brothers measure their testosterone levels.
Maybe I am watching Goon(my favorite hockey flick of all time) too much. The immortal words of Liev Schreiber's Ross Rhea echoing in my head throughout a hockey game.
"You have my respect. Whatever that means to you, you got it. But, know this shit hard. If ever there comes a time when it gets down to the marrow, and it's you and me. Kid, I will lay you the fuck out."
Tell me you don't feel a surge go through your chest you when read that. That's old school elbow grease talk right there. Kids want to be like Ross Rhea. Adults wish they could be like Ross Rhea. Where has that gone?
What's next? Will the NHL outlaw long stares between players? Will refs get flags and toss them when two players collide suddenly because one is wearing a different jersey than the other? Will they outlaw shoving? Will players not be allowed to walk up to a player and knock them the fuck out? When did hockey start going soft? Leave that to baseball. The friendly game where bench clearing brawls equal man chest meetings and glares. Hockey doesn't have to include four fights a game but it would nice if men still fought one another to dictate who owned a bigger slice of the ice.
Is it needed? Yes. Is it dying? Yes. Some people are happy about it. Like the bastards at The Hockey News who like to write click bait bullshit. The people who don't like fighting in the NHL lack a respect for the game that was ingrained at the beginning. Decades ago. The sad thing is most people will oppose it because they want to be in the cool crowd and forget about the entertainment aspect of the game. The people who think fighting isn't needed have never been in a real fight.
Ask me and it's the violence that the NHL wants to get rid of. The softness of this sport is creeping up and tugging at the heart of the game. That's too bad. Sooner or later, the true core of old time hockey will cease to exist. Almost like the game having its testicles clipped.
All for what? To rid the game of enforcers? Men who stick up for their team and players. Go fist yourself, NHL. If you were going to clamp down on something, rid the world of Sidney Crosby 70's era mustaches. Don't take away something that keeps the game balanced and entertaining to all. Don't clip the nuts, NHL suits.
For your Saturday night pleasure, here is THE fight from Goon.