When people say that fighting in hockey is what prevents the NHL from getting more popular, it makes us laugh so hard that our eyes water and urine runs freely down the front of our work slacks. In recent years, we’ve seen the UFC rise up to become a multi-billion dollar company with drastically higher TV ratings than the NHL. And the UFC is based on what exactly? Fighting you say? Now that can’t be right…
Ron Artest goes into the crowd at a Pacers game and starts playing “Rum Jungle SlugFest™” and it makes the highlights of the year. Anytime a bench clearing brawl occurs in baseball, it leads the night’s sportscasts without fail. Why is that exactly? Is it due to a national aversion to violence?
Yet Gary Bettman and many other bleeding-hearts insist there is no place for fighting in the NHL. Well Gary, our old schoolyard chum, we have a little market research here for you. Can you see the monitor from way down there in your little chair? Need a boost to see? There you go.
Take a look at CNN.com this morning. For the first time in recorded history, the NHL is related to the number one news story. Is it the finesse of Sidney Crosby? The solid two-way play of Marty Reasoner? The tom foolery of Jeremy Roenick?
Hell no. It’s the throat slashing of NHL “star” Richard Zednik. Now having been an Oilers fan since we shot onto the delivery bed at the hospital, we can’t recall Zednik ever being referred to as a star before, but nonetheless the article goes:
“Florida Panthers star Richard Zednik suffered an horrific freak accident which left blood gushing from his throat after a collision with a teammate during an NHL game.”
Using words like “blood gushing from his throat” and noting that “Clutching his neck, Zednik somehow had the capacity to race the three-quarters length of the ice to the Panthers bench,” it’s clear that people are ghouls, and don’t seem to be as opposed to violence as you think, Gary. We live in an era when violent movies regularly bring in millions from the box offices around the world, wrestling and UFC have higher TV ratings than the NHL dare dream and former WWE Wrestlers like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson earn millions from personifying violent characters in movies. The NHL sits atop the only major pro sport that allows fighting as a part of the game, and yet we downplay it and try to put rules in place to remove it from the game altogether. That makes great sense to us, Gary.
We aren’t somehow suggesting that Zednik or any other NHL players should purposefully slit their throats to increase NHL ratings to the point they can get a national TV contract, but certainly the odd fight here and there doesn’t hurt. And it certainly hurts less than an accidental throat slashing.
Doesn’t it, Gary?