The NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are around the corner. And we list the reasons why fighting in the sport would not be missed.
By Rich Monetti
The NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are just over a month away, and while the intensity is sure to increase, the number of fights is sure to decrease.
As far as I’m concerned, fighting adds nothing to the game.
You’re definitely questioning my hockey pedigree at this point, right?
For the last five years, I’ve tuned in at the start of the playoffs. You might be thinking of flipping the proverbial 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 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 up with hockey, I’ll blame the Islanders for that too.
When the dynasty officially crumbled in the late 80’s, there was nothing left to hate. 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 in which the Rangers clearly outplayed the reigning four-time champs; it was a once in a lifetime chance for retribution.
So why not pick a fight with these clowns? Well they did, but fighting in hockey is usually an admittance of weakness. You’re getting beat, and that’s when you drop the gloves.
Translation: They’re in your head; exactly what the opposition wants.
Of course teeing off can rally a team, which certainly has value. The same applies 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 can often predict if a fight is coming by looking at the aggressors’ face, which usually looks like a sore loser bully on the playground. It also doesn’t say much for the fans either.
I liken these types of fights to a timeout in basketball when players are trying to disrupt the momentum of the game. Both probably a necessity, but torture to have to sit through when all you want to do is hear the goal horn.
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.
Advocates of fighting will preach that fighting lets the players police the game themselves, potentially eliminating the far more damaging element of head hunting.
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 antics?
I, myself, would rather the Rangers get on with tying the game.