During Friday night’s melee against the Blue
Rangers Jackets, we certainly saw something we weren’t used to seeing since the departure of our captain at the very latest; we saw heart and a team playing with passion. We also saw an instance of a hard, borderline hit which rocked one of our players so hard he hasn’t played since with a questionable timetable to return. Though I feel I can speak for everyone in saying we never want to see this, what we saw afterwards was refreshing.
The passion came about with a fight – a quick 30 second dance – between a seasoned fighter and a guy who’s got 5 prior career NHL fights. Benoit Pouliot made his best effort to avenge an apparent concussion on John Moore, holding his own and pinning down Derek MacKenzie. For me, an unashamed Pouliot fan, this was exactly what I love to see: a guy unafraid to potentially get his butt handed to him in an effort to let the other team know they can’t mess with our guys. But is that really the right way?
The argument against fighting has been made so often that it’s mind numbing. I even made the argument against goons earlier this season after a flurry of disgusting play occurred. So was Pouliot right to stand up for Moore, or should he have let the league review the play and possibly pass out another ShanaBan for the future? The game had been scrappy and physical, a type of game we hadn’t seen for some time, so maybe we are biased in our opinion of liking this. Is this really how hockey should be played?
Last week the St. Louis Blues game against the Winnipeg Jets ended with a full line brawl which resulted in 100 penalty minutes being awarded. A very physical game and a frustrated Jets team led to cameras panning to 3 and a half minutes of sheer chaos in the Blues zone. This brawl was so consuming that it somehow blew the game dead and negated an empty net goal that (maybe?) didn’t wind up counting, despite time still being left on the clock. The old phrase “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out” comes to mind right now – though I cringe typing it.
Personally, I think that players policing the game is a good thing. Hockey is unlike any other sport, and we typically hear about that in the negative sense. A well renowned baseball writer called it a ‘minor sport,’ and if we as hockey fans are going to accept that, then we might as well stand proud to our roots that lay in allowing players stand up on the ice. If you aren’t playing passionate hockey, what are you even doing? There’s a reason refs allow fighting to occur up until the point of possible serious injury. You won’t see a guy hitting another guy while he’s down. There’s a code and, as vague and indefinable as that sounds, it’s a code that makes hockey unique and lovable.
Though blind, cheap shots should never happen, players standing up for their teammates and not backing down in the face of a potential whooping should. Do you agree or should the NHL try to mainstream and negate fighting as a whole?