Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Eve Thrashing

If you follow hockey at all I'm sure you've heard what unfolded at the end of the Caps-Thrashers game last night. If not, then let's put it this way...all hell broke loose.

It's been really interesting seeing more and more information about the incidents during and after the game start to trickle out into the media. There are things you should never hear about - players grabbing another player's face mask, etc. - and things you wish you had seen - Caps Coach Hanlon flapping his arms like a chicken at Atlanta's Coach Hartley.

It's definitely the first time in a long time that I've seen anything like it happen here in DC. The last one I can remember was years ago against the Bruins, which included the ever-popular goalie "fight" (although the goalies were friends and weren't really fighting, but still fun). The Caps, while a tough team with a good work ethic, are not really known for their full out fights. The well-placed hit, sure; the occasional retaliatory roughing or cross-checking, absolutely. But coming into last night's game they were last in the league with only 3 fighting majors.

They surpassed that last night, as both teams combined for 105 penalty minutes and 8 game misconducts handed out in the last two minutes. Not a record by any stretch, but pretty impressive. As a result, the NHL has handed down suspensions to two Capitals and one Thrasher, as well as fines to both coaches.

Throughout the Caps blogosphere, reactions to the extended boxing matches have been mixed. I personally enjoy the occasional fight - it's not something I need to see every game and last night was definitely overkill, but it's an interesting phenomenon. Regardless of what Caps' bloggers think of fighting, though, there seems to be an almost unanimous sentiment that what happened needed to happen, if only to send a message.

So I put this question out there to all of you ladies - no need to create a weekly topic (unless you want to); you can just post a comment or e-mail me: what do you think is the role of fighting in the 'new' NHL? Do you think fighting should be banned or do you like the occasional knockdown, drag out fight between two warriors on skates? What do you think of the NHL's ruling, both on the participants from last night and in general (i.e. suspensions for the instigator penalty, fines for the coaches, etc.)?

I may follow HockeyGirl's lead and create a superpost on my blog with the results...let me know what you think!


Shan said...

I know the general consensus is that fighting is a part of the game, there's a right way to do it, and true hockey fans understand.

However, I don't think it really belongs. Once the bar is set that high, someone who crosses the line can do significant damage (i.e. Bertuzzi). I do enjoy seeing a good tussle, but I don't think that's reason enough for it to be in the game. No question that some of the best moments in hockey have occurred before/during/after fights. I don't know if allowing fighting keeps players from taking dirty shots at each other or not.

Ultimately, is this a part of the sport? Your ability to punch a guy can have an impact on the game. Also, teams have to be built with these so-called "enforcers" in mind.

I'm not sure, I think I'm satisfied with the way it is now as long as people don't get seriously injured.

margee said...

This was pretty bananas. As much as I like fights, Brashear got a little scary. Vishdog clearly didn't want to fight. That kind of pummeling was not cool. A fight is only good and has an impact when both people are fighting. When one clearly looks like he's trying to hold on for dear life, it makes the whole situation completely icky.

Anonymous said...

Shan: I agree with you on some points - I think it can get out of hand and people start to think they can get away with a lot because it's part of the game. Having said that, there aren't that many teams that actually dress a designated "enforcer", and even those still around like Brashear can at least play the game.

Margee: Agreed that both players should want to fight...I think Brash got a little carried away and was clearly frustrated, both at losing again to Atlanta and at the continuous liberties taken by the Thrashers. Not an excuse, though, and I see what you mean.

thehockeychick said...

Since the invention of passing around a rubber disc with a wooden stick on a frozen pond, fighting has been part of this game. But it has certainly evolved with the game and players. Back in the day, guys were unprotected so fights were shorter and more brutal. Now, with all the equipment, fights are longer and more unbalanced.

I certainly don't condone using any part of your equipment against another player. Nor do I think it fair to start a fight with someone that doesn't want to drop gloves with you. But a fair, evenly matched brawl is exciting now and again.

Let's face facts... hockey is a rough sport. There is a lot of aggression on the ice. It shouldn't come out in frustration; I think that is unsportsmanlike. But if it is a true disliking between two players, I think they should be able to settle their differences with a stint of fisticuffs. But I don't think the rest of the bench on both sides need to continue to disrupt the game with ensuing battles after the inital one is finished.

hockeygirl said...

A superpost is a good idea!

I didn't see the incident but I have always disagreed with the way Brashear plays the game. He bothered me when he played in Vancouver and I get the impression maybe he should have gone into boxing or something else.

Fighting is a tough call. Sometimes it can spark that extra momentum the team needs to get a win but when the whole game gets lost to fight after fight it takes away that momentum.

I agree with those who say that if it is going to happen, both guys need to drop the gloves. If you have one guy who is on a mission then the other one doesn't have a chance to get prepared for anything.

I'm looking forward to your superpost.

Christy Hammond said...

I have yet to see the clip because I'm in South Carolina for Thanskgiving and can't get the YouTube video to play yet so I can't respond to the specific event.

Anyways, I just finished reading the book entitled The Code, which is about the unwritten rules and regulations about fighting in the NHL.

I think fighting absolutely has a purpose in the league and I hate the instigator rule. Incidents like Bertuzzi occur when players ignore the unwritten code and that's when players get seriously hurt.

Personally, I love fighting. My favorite game ever was the Avs-Wings showdown on March 26, 1997 when there was a ton of fights.

margee said...

I agree that the Thrashers are an overly chippy team that doesn't back their elbows up when the gloves drop. Upon further review of the YouTube, I think the Caps maybe deserved to get a few swings in. I just think it went on too long, and it was too late to seem like anything other than frustration which is not, as thehockeychick said, what fighting is for.

And Christy, that was definitely the best fight night I've ever seen, with the Cloutier-Salo goalie fight taking a close second.

Heather B. said...

Oooh, Christy thanks for mentioning The Code. I just requested it from the local library and can't wait to read it.

I don't mind fights here and there - I have seen them really change the energy of a team/game - but I also agree that both guys need to want to participate.