CHECK YOUR LID AT THE DOOR

Last night in New Jersey marked the first time you saw two players in a National Hockey League game circumvent the new rule where a player cannot remove his own helmet prior to a fight. Instead Brett Gallant and Krys Barch politely removed each other’s before throwing punches.

As a guy that didnt find myself in too many fights just for the sake of fighting I did find this gesture a tad foolish. If I was in a fight it was because someone generally did something to me or a teammate that I was fired up about. I wouldn’t have had the patience to wait and not punch my opponent in the chops.

In saying that, these guys are on a completely different level of enforcing and I’m glad I had guys like Krys Barch willing to do the dirtiest work so that I didn’t have to.

With this recent controversy, comes with it all the boo birds saying fighting has no place in hockey anymore or that these one dimensional “goons” shouldn’t be a part of the game.

I for one can tell you that if you saw Krys Barch practice or had the chance to play a shinny game with him, you would think he was a 30 goal scorer in the NHL. His skills are that good. Krys plays a role and knows his role very well but it’s not his toe drag that keeps him in the league. Many of these guys are far better hockey players than given credit for. Anyone that is a teammate of Krys’ or any “enforcer” for that matter is thankful to have these types of guys on their team.

PLAYERS VOTE

Does anyone think it’s strange now a days that you have all these people with a voice on twitter and the internet that say fighting has no place in the game or it should be out of the game, yet 98% of the players want to keep fighting in the game?

We’re not talking 50%; we’re not talking only the 135 players that had more than 1 fight last year per hockeyfights.com.

In 2012 a poll of NHL players found that 98% of players want fighting left in the game.

WHY?

It serves a very important purpose. Along with skill and puck possession and goaltending this is a contact sport that requires character, toughness and guys willing to pay the price to win a hockey game. With that comes a little thing called intimidation.

If there is no one on your team to protect guys or your team doesn’t have a couple guys willing to go get pounded for their teammates, then a skill guy has to worry if so and so is going to be abusing him all night or running him all game and he’s not able to feel as comfortable on the ice. It’s really as simple as that, but many don’t seem to grasp the concept.

There is very much a game with in the game when it comes to fighting and it doesn’t always even mean there is a fight. The mental side of it and the intimidation of knowing that player X is on the bench if I decide to give Crosby a shot here, or the feeling of hey it’s an easy night this guy isn’t dressed I can run around a little more are all factors and head games that just the presence of a tough guy can have.

There are a few that it probably never affects, but most players are lying if they tell you that they are not concerned with who the other team dresses.

Is it always a deterrent? Does it stop all the idiots?

No, but you also can’t see the things it prevents because they didn’t happen.

FIXING THE RULE

Although I didn’t care for the helmet gesture and I imagine you will see something shortly from NHL Head Office about players not being able to undo their chin straps, I hate hearing with each passing rule and year why fighting shouldn’t be a part of the game. The element of fighting has a positive impact on the game whether you get it or not.

We are all big boys and are aware of the physical consequences we risk by playing a game we love.

  • Brian Sutherby

    The day hockey loses physicality and intimidation as an inherent element of the sport (as it’s always been), is the day I stop watching. It’s not about fighting, it’s about a continual battle for time and space. And hey…if two guys get pissed off at each other, drop the mits and settle it properly. Good article Brian.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    A re-occuring theme keeps poping up in this thread.But nobody has come out and said it.Hockey is about “entertainment” plain and simple.
    The one diemensional player has been phased out of the game to let the highly skilled players do there thing,ya gotta love that.
    But the last thing I’d want to see is a bunch of Crosby clones playing pond hockey.
    Don’t get me wrong,I’m not trashin Sid.But as a former player,there’s no doubt in my mind that big hits and the odd scrap can change the tempo of the game.Which inturn, adds another dimension to the sport for both players and fans alike.
    As for the head injury defence,I’m not buying it or even renting it.For the simple fact that, as I approach my mid life I believe I’m suffering from “a chronic rattling of the bean.”
    When I played,I laid out big hits and earned the nick name,Alice the Goon.But never once dropped the gloves.And then there was the odd school yard scrap,car crash,motocross wipe out and work place misshap. That in the end, I’m shure has took there toll.
    Lets face it, chronic head injury is not just a problem for the hockey enforcer.It’s just there high profile roles that is bringing this important issue to light.
    TO vs Sabes,helmets just hit the ice,latter guys.