Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Fight to keep Fighting in Hockey

Before you read what I wrote I invite you to watch this 3 part story on the life and death of one of the most feared enforcers in the NHL, Derek Boogaard. You will find the tab for each video on this link.. Enjoy..

So, I got half way through this post and erased it all. It's a touchie subject. Fighting in hockey is something that is being heavily discussed right now. The New York Times recently released a 3 part story on the life of Derek Boogaard, a NHL enforcer, who suddenly and tragically passed away at the age of 28 in the midst of his NHL career this past year. Along with him, Ryan Rypien and Wade Belak passed away within a 4 month period, they also were NHL enforces.. There stories are tough to swallow, basically they grew up knowing that their only way to be successful in the sport they loved was to drop the gloves and endure broken jaws, broken cheeks, black eyes, loss of teeth and in the end life threatening brain injuries. But when you boil it down I just can't see how hockey can exist without fighting. I love fighting in hockey, it means more to me than two guys just trying to kick the sh*t out of each other. It means a guy going out there and saying I may not be a goal scorer, I may not be a great skater, but hell if you want to cheap shot my teammates that can do all those things I am going to rip your face off. Or let's go boys we are a little flat I will get some energy in the building by sacrificing my body.

It's a tough call, it really is.. I am not sure how to say what I want to say without writing an entire book. So I will tell you this, if you eliminate fighting altogether from the game of hockey you WILL have more cheap shots, you WILL have more head shots and you WILL have more guys like Matt Cooke ending more guys running around blind siding people and ending their careers like Marc Savard's. A few thousand dollars or a couple games DOES NOT mean anything to a guy like Matt Cooke all that matters to them is getting under the skin of the opponent and playing on the edge. The one thing they are afraid of is having to answer to the fists of an enforcer. The best punishment for a guy like Matt Cooke is having to answer to a guy like Shawn Thornton when Cooke takes a run at someone. You take that possibility away and now Matt Cooke probably isn't thinking twice when he skating full speed into a corner and all he can see is a guys back.

Maybe, we can find a happy medium? Our Boston Bruins have roughly an entire roster full of players who will drop the gloves to defend a teammate or themselves. Yes, there are exceptions like Seguin and Kreji, but that's about it. Of everyone else who is willing to drop the gloves only one of them would be considered an "enforcer", Shawn Thornton. He takes his spot on the 4th line every night, skates his lanes and protects his teammates. I would hate to not have Thornton on the Bruins, he is in my opinion the best enforcer in the game but for the sake of change, follow me.. You remove Thornton from our roster, a guy takes a cheap shot at someone and that guy now has to answer to one of about 20 guys, Lucic, Horton, Ference, McQuaid, Boychuk, Chara, Corvo, I could go on. Anyone of those guys is more than willing to drop the gloves and stand up for his teammates and they are more than capable of adding some new blemishes to a guys face if they are deserving. With that said none of these guys fight on a nightly basis, it may even be months in between some of their fights but when you have a group of guys that are willing and able you can spread out the responsibility and you lessen the amount of fists to one persons head. In turn you still have fighting but you have eliminated the same guy going out night after night taking punches to his grill.. I still don't love it but hey it's a compromise and the most beautiful sport on this planet doesn't need to change drastically.. Its better than the alternative.. If you want to watch a bunch of guys running around complaining that they just got slapped you can watch the NBA..

-The Truth


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