Bone-crunching body checks, open-ice collisions and, of course, the referee’s willingness to let them go makes the NHL such an enjoyable league to follow, whether or not you can bring yourself to understand the seemingly complicated rules.

A lot of these plays stem from players whose purpose on the ice is to inflict damage; letting the other team know they’re there and to protect their team’s star players. But a fight isn’t always guaranteed to break out. Deep into the playoffs everyone is so focused on the task of getting through to the next round that the idea of fighting, in the most obvious sense of the word, seems unimportant.

…lead to a domino effect…

Fist-e-cuffs

However, when one does break out it can lead to a domino effect of everyone wanting to get a piece of the action. A game two seasons ago had hardly reached 10 seconds of playing time before a host of players had to be sent to the penalty box (or sin bin) with fighting erupting throughout the rink before the referees could grasp any kind of order. At first it was amusing and somewhat unbelievable, but once that fourth fight broke out I got fed up and just wanted to watch some hockey.

One of America’s least loved sports but Canada’s adopted national sport is something a little more special than just a team of 6ft3 monsters ordered out to pick on the biggest, ugliest guy on the opposing team. The skill, excitement and entertainment of an NHL game is criminally underrated. In a time of almost total access to any major sport the world has to offer, the NHL seems to be falling by the wayside to the ever globally popular NFL and NBA.

…viewed as a fist fight first…

It’s a sad indictment of the sport that it’s viewed as a fist fight first and foremost, rather than the truly original, dangerously charming and highly enjoyable game it really is.

Images courtesy of the NHL

 

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One Response

  1. New England Lady

    Coupla things. It’s only the US least favorite sport in SOME parts of the US. I live in New England, and with our high number French Canadian diaspora me members(including my Memere) and Maritime connections, I’d argue hockey is NOT last on the list here.

    Should Florida have 2 teams (that can’t fill an arena)? No. But Boston, Detroit, Chicago, New York should get props for being original 6 and actually giving a damn about the game. We don’t like that Carolina and Phenoix have teams either, when the locals couldn’t give a flying eff about the sport. I watched Boston at Tampa tonight, and at times, “lets go Bruins” was the dominant chant. Pitiful.

    So, as someone whose Memere grew up checking and high sticking her brothers on the ponds of New England (good French Catholics, they could field both sides of a hockey game), I feel I can say with some authority that fighting and heavy hitting are key to the sport. There is a code, but a hit needn’t be dirty to precipitate a legitimate fight (see Iginla vs Gudas, Bruins, game 1 this season).

    Get rid of the fights, and it won’t be that good, ol’ time hockey anymore. It’s part of the strategy. It’s part of the game. Don’t belittle or dismiss it. We aren’t Europeans, and we don’t play by Olympic rules. It’s Canada’s game, but its also New England and the upper Midwest’s game, with due props to our northern newbour and rememberence of the Canadian diaspora in America that brought us the joy of good old Canadian hockey.

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