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Old 10-14-2018, 12:05 PM   #1
Déjà Bru
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Miss all the fighting in the NHL? I don't.

Here's an article in Newsday reporting the steady decline of fighting in the NHL for various reasons. For years, fighting was something that turned me off about professional hockey.

The "enforcer" role has virtually disappeared. Those were the guys who could barely skate but were on the team to beat opponents, literally, and protect "gentlemen" such as Wayne Gretzky.

I certainly don't miss goons like Dave Brown, quoted thusly in the story:
“Say a team came out flat, you had another way of turning momentum in a game, whereas the way it is now, you can’t do that,” Brown said. “You could scare teams into having some advantage. Human nature is to be afraid if, physically, you’re going to get harmed. We all knew back then if you hit a guy, crushed a guy with a clean check, hurt him, that was an advantage to you.”
Brown doubts that he could have played in today's NHL. The game has gotten quicker, requiring more speed and finesse.

Plus the NHL should be commended for cracking down on at least the premeditated stuff. The days of "staged fights, where guys line up and say, ‘We’re going’" and "a wordless tap from a coach was signal enough for an enforcer to hop over the boards and do his job" are over.

It's a better sport for this change, in my opinion.

Pulling punches: The decline of fighting in the NHL
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- Bru

Last edited by Déjà Bru; 10-14-2018 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 10-14-2018, 03:36 PM   #2
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I agree, I am glad they are becoming less and less prevalent.
I am also glad the NHL and other professional leagues are taking more drastic measures against players who target another players head for a check or elbow or stick or to drive them into the boards.

The NHL is struggling to remain North Americas 4th popular sport and it has been a while ago but when one of its generational talents in Crosby missed essentially two years and almost his career by hits to the head and then an elbow to the head.
That should have and I think did shock them into realizing they needed heavy penalties for such hits.
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Old 10-14-2018, 04:04 PM   #3
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As in any professional sport, it's always about the money. In addition to your point, there was also this mentioned in the article:
Brown also believes that NBC’s acquisition of the NHL broadcasting rights in 2006 and Comcast’s subsequent merger with NBC Universal in 2011, which expanded the number of outlets to showcase the league, are other factors.“I think when they took the game to the big stage, that was the best thing that happened to the game. They had all those channels,” Brown said. “They knew they were going to have to reduce fighting to put it out to the masses.”
In other words, the networks told the league to clean up their act, hence the measures taken to suppress fighting. I am under no illusion that NHL owners and executives did what they did for any other reasons than these.

Still, regardless of the impetus, it is a welcome change and I hope it stays. I will leave you with an anecdote that has stuck in my brain for many years.

After a while away from the game, partly because I was disgusted with players fighting (and moron fans shouting and pounding on the glass in the background), I tuned in a game to see if I could rekindle my interest. Now, this is no lie or exaggeration:

The announcer had just got done talking about how so-and-so had needed stitches for a mouth injury (whether from play or fight I don't know). Literally minutes later, this guy is in a fight and, sure enough, he takes a fist in the kisser. Blood erupted all over his jersey and onto the ice.

That was it for me and watching professional hockey for quite some time. Only in the past few seasons have I been interested in the sport again.

- Bru

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Old 10-14-2018, 08:48 PM   #4
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Hockey is a contact sport. I don't mind fighting, but i agree I don't care for the staged or planned fights. Frustration happens and if they can't fight, they use their sticks, or they use illegal hits. I'd rather see a fight than some of the stickwork I've witnessed. Or some of the blows to the head (Tom Wilson, anyone?)

And I've seen blood all over the ice too. None of it had anything to do with fighting. Sticks, pucks, skates, etc. The only two people who a fight MIGHT be hurting is the two combatants. And even then most of the time there is no issues. But blood on the ice is not restricted to fighting. Most of the time it's not the reason.
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Old 10-14-2018, 11:57 PM   #5
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While I do (to an extent) miss fights that came up in the heat of it all, ill totally get on board with praising the death of staged fights. It had such a WWE feel to it as to be revolting, and its one of the pluses to this area.
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:27 AM   #6
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I'm with you. The fights that had no reason behind it I never liked. If they stem from guys getting too competitive or retaliation of a dirty hit, I might not condone it, but I'd understand it. The ones were some goon was inserted to pump the team up or you're trying to send a message for the next game was just downright silly.
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Old 10-15-2018, 11:06 AM   #7
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Grew up watching IHL hockey and my hometown Saginaw Gears. This was the 70's into early 80's. The IHL was a brutal league. Have to admit I enjoyed the fighting for quite some time, but that all came to an end in 1980. Gear are playing the Milwaukee Admirals in the Turner Cup Playoffs. Penalty marred series. One of Milwaukee's smaller players Carey Hayworth made the mistake of getting a little physical with Gears top scorer Marcel Comeaux. Next thing you know the benches clear and a huge defenseman for the Gears John Gibson gets ahold of Haworth and things got ugly fast. Haworth was no match for Gibson. After a brutal punch to the face, Haworth fell to the ice and tried to cover his face. Gibson would lift Haworth and punch him in the face over and over again. I was at this game and what I sadly remember most is cheering on my beloved Gears in this brawl. Cheering on John Gibson when he was beating the defenseless Haworth. I was a dumb 13 year old at the time, but I still shiver when I think back on this.

In the days following this, we learned how bad Haworth's injuries were. A fractured cheekbone, two blackeyes and quite a few stitches. In an unprecedented move, the Milwaukee Admirals forfeited the playoff series to the Gears. Reading about Haworth's injuries I felt sick to my stomach. I realized I had cheered like an idiot while this guy was being beaten to a pulp. That was the turning point for me when it came to hockey fights and fighting in sports in general. I don't enjoy fights at all.
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Old 10-18-2018, 10:54 AM   #8
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I never liked the fighting because I wanted to watch a game, not a fight. To me it was no different than an idiot running out on to the field and delaying the game.

I understand it is a sport that can bring out the worst in people out of frustration. I've played the game. But take it out on the player within the game. Example, Remember that game the Flyers had against the Russians back in the early 70s I believe? The Russians were so pissed off they didn't want to continue after the first period but did anyway.

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