Don’t take the fight out of the game
SAIT/MRU game shows why fighting is a must
I love fights.
All levels. All the time.
The SAIT Trojans and Mount Royal Cougars men’s hockey teams fought an epic brawl on Nov. 17. The cross-town rivals racked up over 179 penalty minutes and recorded two solid fights over the course of 60 minutes.
I was there sitting in the press box with a smug grin on my face.
Not because Mount Royal ended up winning (honestly, I don’t care. I’m neutral on all college sports), but because of the passion exhibited by both sides.
It’s not close to the single-game record of 419 PIMs game logged between the Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers in 2004.
Or the 465 PIM just happened during a Finnish-line brawl.
But still, it was a sign of some damn emotion in the game.
That’s what fighting is.
It’s not just dropping bombs on opponents’ faces for no reason.
It’s about being so pissed off with the other team you are willing to risk it all for a chance to earn a sense of retribution.
It’s about standing up for your team’s star when they get leveled with a body check. (Dave Semenko made a career being the stone fists for Wayne Gretzky).
Some call fighting a travesty: “Won’t someone please think of the children.” Let’s look at the alternatives, specifically between MRU and SAIT.
Tensions rose during the game. It’s inevitable. They are 40-year rivals right before a break up. Add in the championship fiasco from last season and we are looking at a ticking time bomb.
Then during the game, it built slowly with a couple of questionable late hits and a few tiny slashes to the backs of legs.
The penalty box filled up with Cougars and Trojans.
Eventually it happened.
A scrum broke out in front of the net leading to Trojan Brad Drobot and Cougar Jessie Tresierra drawing three officials to pull them apart.
Later on, a late hit in the corner led to Jordon Harrison and Joe Babey throwing down, with MRU’s Harrison eventually notching the ‘W’ in his belt.
Now picture the game without fighting.
Without fighting, there wouldn’t be that outlet for players to release emotion and anger.
There would be a pint of McSorleying with a shot of Bertuzziing, a dash of Stevensing and a chaser of Samuelssoning. (Non-hockey fan translation: a whole lot of stick swinging, sucker punching, cheap shots and knee-on-knee hits.)
Inevitably, fighting in hockey ensures there is a way for players to police themselves. It’s a fairly safe way ensure the game doesn’t get too out of hand when emotions get too high.
There I go though, using the word everyone is so concerned with right now — safety.
With the death of three great fighters over the summer, (Rick Rypien, Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak) everyone wants to ensure player’s safety.
Busting knuckles on temples is probably not the safest way to go about it.
Concussions, broken bones and damaged eyes are common problems. The toll could lead to painkiller abuse and other mental issues. But just playing hockey has the same side effects.
Every player, from fighters to all-stars and fringe major leaguers, they all have the possibility of receiving career-threatening injuries every time they step on the ice.
You know the greatest argument I have for fighting in hockey though? Excitement.
Every time a fight breaks out, people jump to their feet and cheer louder than after most goals.
Only once have I heard of a person leaving because of fighting — a little old lady who used to be my dad’s banker.
But I can guarentee thousands will likely walk out on the game if they eventually ban fighting.