Reasons to Fight (In Hockey)

“Putting on the Foil!!”

I read somewhere once that the difference between Americans and Canadians is in how they view the 1977 movie “Slap Shot”. Americans thinks it’s a charming B-Movie starring Paul Newman. Canadians think it’s a documentary.

At any rate, the NHL draft was held this past weekend. I got to see my Bruins involved in a couple of classic “Three Quarters for a Dollar” trades (in which they happily parted with the dollar), and It’s hotter than two rats screwing in a wool sock here. Of course all this put me in mind of that other great Canadian tradition: Hockey Fights.

Fighting, in hockey, his a “code”, the unwritten rules by which gentleman conduct themselves when engaging in a contest of buffets, these gallant affrays of fisticuffs between two evenly matched contestants. However, you can’t just go sucker-punch someone – that would be soccer, or the 70’s, neither of which is admirable. There has to be a reason for said contest to take place, justification for the action to follow. Here in no particular order are ten perfectly acceptable reasons to drop the gloves – as expressed in hockey vernacular:

  1. “They were takin’ liberties with our guys.”
  2. “Gotta set the tone.”
  3. “Need to clear some space for our skilled players. Gotta step up.”
  4. “If the refs aren’t going to call anything we gotta police things ourselves.”
  5. “Gotta get the momentum back in our favour”
  6. “It’s our barn.”
  7. “I was just the fight away from the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, so … ” *
  8. “Gotta earn some respect out there”
  9. “Gotta take their fans out of it”
  10. “Gotta get their attention”

Bonus: “If you can’t beat ’em in the alley, you can’t beat ’em on the ice” – Conn Smythe.

For the non-Canadians who follow my blog, Conn Smythe was the founding father of the Toronto Maple Leafs and if the Leafs haven’t been successful lately – it’s not because of Conn Smythe. In fact the old man would be so distressed if he saw the current program he might punch his way out of the goddamn grave and go “set the tone” himself.

True story: All bloggerly-bravado aside I was not a particularly pugnacious and only got in a few fights. (I was a “skill player” and have “typist’s hands.”) But I did get in one in Medicine Hat, Alberta about a hundred years ago. The linesmen separated us and led us off the ice – I was just about to step off the ice to dressing room when someone shouted “Get off the ice, long hair!” and I looked up to see a little old lady – not a day under 78 years old – leaning over the ramp. As I looked up she threw a crumpled up paper cup with deadly accuracy and hit me in the head. The linesman escorting me off laughed so hard he lost his balance and almost fell.

I guess she thought I was “takin’ liberties” and she had to “step up.”

Stay frosty blog followers, I’ll be back when the puck drops.

Steve

* The “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” is a hockey phrase that means the player mentioned had a goal, an assist, and a fight all in the same game. A regular “hat-trick” – less noble – would be the scoring of three goals.

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