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.
I enjoyed reading your article. I think it is admirable you care about the game the way you do. Clearly, hockey is something you are passionate about.
This is why I have to disagree with you. I think hockey traditionalists, like yourself, believe that fighting (or violence) is part of the game. Hockey is a contact sport. Still, hockey is one of the only sports (and the only major one) that does not disqualify players for post-play acts of violence, such as fighting. Which leads me to conclude that hockey is the only sport in which players can hit each other legally yet choose to punch each other.
It also leads me to conclude that players fighting is a sign of passion channeled in the wrong direction. Most sports, a player losing his temper is chastised by his teammates and coaches, holding that person responsible for losing control. In hockey, scoring goals and preventing goals is the objective. So if players are passionate about winning, they would likely channel that passion towards achieving those objectives. And 179 penalty minutes does not change the blinking lights on the scoreboard. If violence were removed form the game, players could still score goals and win. If goal-scoring was removed and all that remained was violence, you would have no sport at all.
This leads me to conclude that, if the leagues chose to protect its players from this violence, fighting would not be necessary to ‘police themselves’. I don’t know of any sport other than hockey where it is taught that one needs to act as the police on the ice.
Some more research made me conclude that after the 2004 lockout, the NHL came back stronger and more watched than ever before. Which leads me to believe that hockey fans care so much about the game, not much could stymie that desire. If fighting were removed, I somehow doubt real hockey fans would stop paying attention. Five years down the road, most hockey fans would say, ‘Oh boy, remember when guys used to fight? Those were the days.’ and then have another beer and admire Sidney Crosby skating and scoring with dazzling skill instead of defending himself from every goon that brings the league in a fiftieth of the revenue as he does. Because, there was no fighting in the Olympics and everyone paid attention — and considered it some of the best hockey ever played.
Which brings me to my final point. I think fighting will never leave the game. And that is fine with me. I like sports where the athletes of skill are on display, not the athletes who have no control over their emotions. It is one thing for a person to not care about their own well being, but to not care about the well being of another, enough so to punch them in the name of retribution? Empathy is a human trait.
Being an Augustana Vikings supporter having been to many games against both of the schools in question, were several fights have broken out, the fighting has failed to prevent numerous dispicable acts ie SAit defender crosschecking Vikings Dman Adam Tressor in the back of the head into the boards concussing him ie ending his senior season right before christmas last season. IE doing the same thing to Vikings rookie Adam Johnson this past preseason who only just missed having his ACAC career ended before it started.Three other examples I want to leave you with. theirs a rule in the ACAC which says if you fight in the final two mintues of the game you get ejected and suspended for two games. Last season with a min left in the third a sait man challenged Viking Casey Rempel to drop the gloves, the moment rempel threw up his fists the trojan skated away leaving Casey to get tossed. Second, in a game back in November the score was 2-2 heading to 0t. one of the sait players challenged foward Quinn Amiel to drop the gloves. Q not one to back down, realized however that this was a close game with league wide ramifcations and did not want to get drawn in to a penalty. he starts skating away. the SAIT player skates after him and puts him in a headlock. the ref ended up having to suplex the sait player to get him off, and all the while had done no damage to Q at all. If fighting was not allowed, then Rempel would never have been drawn into a trap, the trojan enforcer would have thought twice before trying to draw a penalty, and Tressor may ahve had a complete senior campaign. I like a good fight as much as the next guy but if it wasnt for fighting a team with actual talent would have all the banners that currently reside at the sait arena