I couldn’t have been happier today.
The Penguins blew out the Philadelphia Flyers, 6-1, in embarrassing fashion Tuesday. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s the excitement and anticipation for the rematch Thursday. However, my elation died almost instantaneously after reading Ron Cook’s column in today’s (Wendesday’s) Post-Gazette.
It’s another writer with his own take on the idea of fighting in hockey — something we’ve heard before. In a nutshell, his point is that it’s a shame Dan Bylsma had to sit Max Talbot for Eric Godard, because Godard’s presence was in a response to the type of game Philadelphia likes to play: rough and physical with your occasional fight.
I understand his point and, honestly, by the third fight in 16 seconds I was thinking we need to get back to playing hockey. But if you take fighting out of hockey the result will be far worse.
Cook’s direct feelings are as follows…
“I think it’s ridiculous, actually, that the sport allows the gratuitous violence,” Cook wrote in his column.
“It’s an embarrassment to a great game.”
An embarrassment to the game would be David Koci running Washington’s Mike Green from behind last night, something that goes unmentioned in the entire piece. Marty McSorely slashing Donald Brashear in the head would fall under that category as well, along with Tie Domi attacking fans from the penalty box.
Fighting, which has deep roots in the history of the sport, is nothing like those incidents.
Now, just because something has been done for years doesn’t make it right. However, imagine hockey without it.
Hockey has no out of bounds — nowhere to run — in the only sport where the surface plays the players. It’s 10 bodies in continuous motion.
Accordingly, players are targeted and collisions happen. If it weren’t for fighting, superstars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin wouldn’t be safe. Without fighting, players would continue to build up aggression.
And with that aggression comes embarrassing acts like Scott Hartnell and Jarkko Ruutu biting through opponents gloves.
So don’t give me the “fighting is an embarrassment” claim. There are far worse problems in the game than two players agreeing to square off in a mutual attempt to spark their team.
That is, unless you’d rather watch defenseless, unassuming players suffer potentially career-ending injuries.
And as his piece came to a close, Cook adds this…
“It brought back memories of Talbot’s one-sided fight with Carcillo in Game 6 of the teams’ first-round playoff series last spring. It was dramatically one-sided in Carcillo’s favor, yet the Penguins still will tell you that Talbot’s willingness to go gave them the juice to climb out of a 3-0 hole and turn out the lights on the Flyers’ season with a 5-3 win. Funny, I thought quick goals by Ruslan Fedotenko and Mark Eaton immediately after the fight were a bigger factor in the comeback.”
The idea is, Mr. Cook, that the fight SPARKED the comeback. Those goals would have been much harder to come by if Talbot hadn’t stepped up for his team.
If you think fighting is bad for hockey, think again. And when you do that double-take, think about the sport without hockey.
The result is far more “embarrassing” for the sport.
Chris | PPT