Fighting: it’s part of the game

As the Nation woke this morning, many of you were still smarting from the 5-1 loss in Minny. Once again, after a surprising win in Washington, the Oilers weren’t able to keep their momentum going.

Were you that surprised that they lost to the Wild and Backstrom, who absolutely owns the Oilers? Probably not, but your disappointment stemmed from not seeing a potential epic heavyweight battle between the Bogeyman and SmackIntyre. You could handle not seeing Brash v. Smack two nights earlier, because you were wiping the tear from your eye watching him celebrate his first NHL goal. But last night, you wanted it, and expected MacIntyre to exact some redemption for the Bogeyman crushing Hemsky, Reasoner and the 2007 Oilers.

But it didn’t happen. You clapped and were intrigued by the spirited Smid/Sheppard tilt, and then you were screaming at the TV after Souray demolished Weller with some crushing lefts. Hell, if it wasn’t for Souray’s KO you’d have had nothing to cheer for last night.

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Of course winning a fight doesn’t mean as much as the two points, but it re-enforces why the NHL, or junior hockey for that matter, should never take fighting out of the game. Sports are a release from the daily grind, and they get you emotionally involved and ultimately entertained. While you don’t need to see a fight every game, don’t tell me you don’t get excited when the gloves hit the ice.

When the Oilers win, even if the game is boring, you still leave satisfied. And even a loss that has end-to-end action or big hits can be satisfying, but when Minnesota is the opposition the only excitement you hope for is a monumental tussle amongst the big men.

Some pacifists will argue that a meaningless fight between two heavyweights who don’t play much is pointless. But I say hogwash. In boxing and now MMA, the anticipation of a great bout is almost as exciting as the fight itself. Most of us love it because we know deep down we could never do it. You don’t cheer for someone to get hurt, but you want to see a KO. Is it barbaric? No, it’s an adrenaline rush and entertainment.

Not seeing Smack and Bogey doff the gloves last night was a disappointment for many fans, and while it didn’t hurt you as much as the loss, it left you wanting more.

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Many, including myself, wonder if the decision by the OHL to suspend players who willingly take their helmets off before a fight, is another step in trying to take fighting out of the game, or just a knee jerk reaction to the horrible Don Sanderson tragedy.

There are fair arguments for both sides when it comes to not allowing players to take their helmets off before a fight. I’m a proponent of fighting and even I can see why David Branch, Commissioner of the OHL, felt it necessary to act swiftly. Sometimes players take their helmets off more for the showboating aspect rather than the protecting-their-knuckles defence. I don’t agree with his decision and I think it was knee-jerk reaction, but I understand he has pressure to try and protect the players in his league.

If Sanderson hadn’t passed away would the OHL have implemented this rule? No chance. And that’s what is disappointing. We can’t change rules because of one incident, or soon we will be changing every fabric of our beloved game.

I don’t believe the NHL will follow suit, and I doubt they will ever purposely take fighting out of the game. As much as I would hate to see it go, if in 20 years teams don’t employ designated tough guys, then I will accept that the game has evolved past that. I will take evolution over a rule change. Hockey fans don’t want to be hit over the head with a fighting ban, but like the past 20 years, if fighting continues to decline slowly at least the league won’t be alienating their true fans.

One of the best aspects of fighting is the unpredictability of it. It can happen at any moment, by any player and normally it is over in under a minute. It’s a quick jolt of energy for the participants, their teammates and the fans. It can change the momentum of the game, or send a message to the opposition and it almost always adds energy to the game.

You don’t need designated heavyweights to have exciting fights. Many of you, especially Amber, gushed openly as Souray jack hammered Weller last night. While it wasn’t the match-up you were anticipating or hoping for, it did quench your appetite.

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While you ride the inevitable rollercoaster that comes from being an Oiler fan, you can count the days until the next potential Bogeyman v. Smack battle. It’s 14 days boys and girls: Jan. 30 at Rexall.

This really sucks

Just as I was getting over not seeing #24 and #33 drop the gloves, I came across the preview for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, and immediately thoughts of Kate Beckinsale in that black suit came rushing to my brain. I didn’t catch the release date, because thoughts of Selene were almost too much for me to bare, so I googled Underworld 3 to find out when I could once again see the sexiest character in movie history.

If you thought not seeing the big bout last night was disappointing, imagine my horror when I realized that Selene will not be back to battle the Lycans. Ok, sure she will make some lame cameo appearance but that’s like knowing Boogaard and MacIntyre are on the bench, though you’ll will never see them on the ice.

Rhona Mitro is okay, but compared to the stunning Beckinsale she just doesn’t cut it. She can’t pull off the black suit, and there is no way I will watch part three. Beckinsale will never revive her role; but at least there is a chance you might see some fireworks on Jan. 30.

Damn expectations. First a non-fight and now no Kate, the good news is that it can’t possibly get worse today.


  • I like the conversation you had with Coach Rocky Thompson yesterday. Basically in a nutshell for those of you who didn't hear it he said that he would just rip the helmet off anyhowby ripping the earstraps off the helmet. Or he suggested that the players start using clip on visors, take the visor off before the fight – helmet stays on.

    I myself like the fisticuffs – especially in agame where your team is getting seriously outplayed. It gives the fans some satisfation. I would think it does something for the next game against the team as well.

    An unfortunate situation in Ontario has caused the OHL to be backed into a corner in my opinion. Why have a rule if people are still going to have a possiblity of not having a helmet on during a fight? Hopefully it gets reviewed during the off season & fixed.

  • Chris

    Jan 30th is fight night. Anyone notice how well behaved Boogard was last night? He must be just a little scared of Big Mac… The game was in Minnesota and Boogard chose not to risk his rep on his own turf. I'm positive MacIntyre will force the Boogy Man to step up on RX1 ice.

  • SMac played two shifts last night, and for a total of 1:13 TOI. Both Shifts where in the first period. MacT could not play a defensive liability against the Wild if he wasn't winning. Also he didn't have last change so Lemaire would have to put the Boogyman against SMac: opposed to having MacT not want SMac to fight, I think it is Lemaire not want Boogyman to fight and possible spark the Oilers.

  • Jeff

    I was hoping for, but honestly not expecting a Boogaard-MacIntyre throwdown last night. I know SMac's healthy, but I still question whether he's take-a-Boogaard-shot-to-the-face healthy. Just ask Todd Fedoruk's orbital bone.

    Second straight KO for Shelly… I love it, but get nervous every time I see it.

  • Travis Dakin

    Amber wrote:

    I don’t know if I “gushed openly”. I can’t condone fighting. I think it’s unnecessary, barbaric…oh who am I kidding…It was hot

    I could hear you squeeling like a school girl all the way up here in Fort Mac. Or maybe that was just my echo.

  • Rick

    Hey Jason I thought one of the callers to your show last night had an interesting point about the take down moves that seem to be the new rage in the NHL right now.

    I don't know how you would define a penalty for such a thing but if you get a chance you should take a peak at the Carcillo vs Davison fight in Vancouver last night. It's exhibit #1 in making a case for such a penalty.

    As for the re-newed debate on fighting and helmets, it's tough to argue with what David Branch did considering that a significant percentage of the players in his league are under the age of 18. Many of these guys are bigger and stronger than the average man but they are still minors and deserve being protected as such.

    The rub occurs when you try and project what ramifications there may be down the road. Fighting in the NHL should not be restricted any further and if any thing the instigator should be revoked so the players have a bigger say in how justice can be dolled out. These are all adults that can take responsibility for their own decisions.

    That said, what happens 6 years down the road when the next group of kids come up and none of them can handle themselves in that regard because they have never honed that "skill" while coming up the ranks. The effects of David Branch today may very well contribute to eliminate fighting in the NHL down the road.

    When the Euro's first started coming over in waves the big out cry was that the stick work and diving and lack of respect was hurting our game because learned to play in leagues that didn't allow for that kind of accountability. Today it has become such common part of how teh NHL game is played the crying has died down but I think remembering today how frustrating it was back then would be worth it if they are looking to curb fighting further.

    It was the same argument that mandating visors vs increased stick work fostered or better protection with plastic elbow and shoulder pads vs injuries due to hitting. Both cases of good intentions having negative consequences.

    One final thought on my rambling post, it was truly a tragedy what happened to Sanderson but I think the argument against fighting in hockey should have been directed to fighting in non-professional leagues. My understanding is that Sanderson was playing in a senior league which is only a stones throw from beer league. Playing hockey for recreation should be a no brainer in terms of no fighting. When you get to the professional ranks you are not only dealing with people that understand the nuances or have the players better capable of protecting themselves but there are also more safe guards in place in terms of professional referees, training staff and facilities to manage injuries. I don't understand why the level he was playing in isn't a bigger part of the debate.

  • Ender the Dragon

    Jeff wrote:

    know SMac’s healthy, but I still question whether he’s take-a-Boogaard-shot-to-the-face healthy.

    100% ditto. I was actually glad that Smac stayed MIA against the Brasher and the Boogeyman. I know he's back, but healing is not an on/off thing. I'd prefer SMac's face to be back up to titanium-durable before he starts testing it against the Boogeyman's knuckles. He's got 5 more opportunities to do that this season, and if he'd rushed it last night, I fear that might have been his only crack at it.

  • doritogrande

    Agreed on the lack of Beckinsale, but I'll still watch the movie because of the cinematography. This crew really knows how to pull off a dark movie. I am a fan of the no Scott Speedman however, guy was just stand in for the Selene eye candy.

    On the Souray fight, the only thing that would have impressed me more would have been if when Sheldon pushed Ethan aside he would have ripped the C off that cretin's shoulder. We need a new captain next year. And for god's sake not another 4th liner.

  • Gord

    After the unfortunate death of Don Sanderson, something does have to be done. If another person were to die from a fight in a hockey game, the league in which they would would be found negligent. After someone is killed from an incident, such as Sanderson was, and no measures were put into place to protect a player in a similar situation from a tragic result, the league will be successfully sued.

  • Colin

    doritogrande wrote:

    On the Souray fight, the only thing that would have impressed me more would have been if when Sheldon pushed Ethan aside he would have ripped the C off that cretin’s shoulder. We need a new captain next year. And for god’s sake not another 4th liner.

    I would have messed my pants (in the goodway) if he had taken the C like that. Awesome.

  • Ender the Dragon

    Gord wrote:

    After someone is killed from an incident, such as Sanderson was, and no measures were put into place to protect a player in a similar situation from a tragic result, the league will be successfully sued.

    I see a lot of signed liability waivers in the future.

  • shakey

    @ Rick:
    I saw the fight in the Van/Phx game and I said the same thing, the fight was fine but the take down was dirty. It was obvious what Davidson was trying to do and that was twist Carcillo and slam him into the ice. His head hit pretty hard and I'm surprised he didn't get really hurt. That is an issue hockey needs to look at. Players make the decision to fight and possibly take a punch to the face but I don't think they go in expecting a wrestling move take down driving the back of their head to the ice.
    Several years ago a hockey player in Edmonton died while playing rec league hockey. He slid to block a shot and it hit him in the back of the head or neck. It was a horrible accident but no one suggested taking shooting the puck or blocking shots out of the game. You have frozen rubber pucks whipping past heads at 90 to 100 mph, every player is wearing razor sharp blades and carrying a stick, there are risks when you play the game but players accept that.
    Stop listening to bleeding hearts like Jim Kelly at Sportsnet or some poll of people that may or may not watch hockey, ask the players and people involved with the game what they think of fighting.

  • Gord wrote:

    After the unfortunate death of Don Sanderson, something does have to be done. If another person were to die from a fight in a hockey game, the league in which they would would be found negligent. After someone is killed from an incident, such as Sanderson was, and no measures were put into place to protect a player in a similar situation from a tragic result, the league will be successfully sued.

    Gord, another amateur midget player died last week after getting hit, and no one was sued. In a league where fighting is allowed, 5 min penalty and you come back, what would be the legal action? Sanderson wasn't in the OHL league, so why should they have to adhere to a league that doesn't involve them. The "they will sue if we don't implement new rule" is a weak argument that has no prove.

    Look at boxing, how many fighters have died in the ring? You don't see lawsuits in boxing, so where is your prove that it would happen. I think the precedent has been set in fact, so it is highly doubtful there would be a successful lawsuit.

  • Not only is Rhona Mitra the poor mans Kate Beckinsale, she is also a diva beotch to the highest degree.

    Rick wrote:

    I don’t know how you would define a penalty for such a thing but if you get a chance you should take a peak at the Carcillo vs Davison fight in Vancouver last night. It’s exhibit #1 in making a case for such a penalty.

    For the last 5 seasons, maybe even 10 or more, it seems like guys figure whoever goes down first is the loser of the fight, so we're seeing more and more instances of a guy not getting any punches in, but landing a crazy hard take down *cough Stortini cough* just to save face. I completely agree there should be a penalty if a player clearly goes for a body slam take down, because it's getting pretty ridiculous.