Friday, February 26, 2016

Hockey Fights – I Don’t Need ‘em

The hockey playoffs are almost back, so am I and fighting adds nothing to the game.

I guess you’re definitely questioning my hockey pedigree at this point. Ok, for the last five years, I’ve tuned in once the playoffs started. Sounds like you should flip the page right now, but from 1979-1988, I was huge into hockey.

You can thank the New York Islanders – I hated them and their suburban mall, family style fan base. “Potvin Sucks,” and you can still stick that in your four Stanley Cups before moving to God Damn Kansas City.  (James Dolan couldn’t move the Rangers across the street much less a wasteland in the Midwest without setting off another occupy movement).

As for my break with hockey, that possibly ties to the Islanders too. The dynasty officially done by the late 80’s, there was nothing left to hate, and while 1994 meant the end of “1940,” I would still trade it for a game five OT victory in the 1984 Division Semifinals. A series the Rangers clearly outplayed the reigning four time champs, it was a once lifetime chance for retribution.

You satisfied.

So why not pick a fight with these pricks? Well they did, but fighting in hockey is usually an admittance of weakness. You’re getting beat, and you drop the gloves.

Translation: They’re in your head – exactly what the team in the lead wants. Of course, teeing off can rally a team and that certainly has value. The same goes for leveling the goon who just went after your leading scorer. But the fights that accrue my ire occur once your team relinquishes the lead or the game is on the brink of getting out of hand (score-wise). You see it right on the aggressors’ faces, and trailing, they look as stupid as the sore loser bully on the playground. It also doesn’t say much for the fan either.

So the upside, I liken to a timeout in basketball where you’re trying to disrupt the momentum. Both probably a necessity, but torture to have to sit through when all you want to do is sound the siren.

As you might imagine, I have no interest in seeing two guys punching each other in the face and I have no understanding of why anyone would. But the justification holds a consistent partyline among the non-casual fan.

Fighting lets the players police the game themselves and far more damaging head hunting would take place instead. I don’t buy it. It’s just too convenient a rationalization and how do they manage to self-enforce in college, international play and other sports for that matter? I think they call them penalties, suspensions, fines, etc.

The question then is if the enduring image of Glen Hanlon skating out of the net at 8:56 of overtime has subsided for me after 30 years, how long are you going to hang onto the playground? Me and the Rangers want to get on with tying the game. 

No comments: