A bit of background on yours truly:
I've been an Edmonton Oilers fan since the early 90s. My parents were never big fans so the ability to choose a team fell on my shoulders. I've been actively following the Oilers for about 13 years - Age 12 to present. Like many of the women on this site, my fan-ness verges on obsessive. I work at an Oilers bar (in Vancouver!), I help run an Oilers blog, I have several pieces of memorabilia and an strange overwhelming interest in Marty Reasoner. But my interest doesn't stop at the Oilers. I'm a stats junkie, having written many pieces (that I should publish) about the economics of the nhl (especially relocation) and a thesis paper about women in sports broadcasting. (My first degree was in Economics and now I'm working on a diploma in broadcast journalism.) During the lockout, I went to Austria to see the World Hockey Championships. And my interest doesn't stop at hockey. I love sports, the competitiveness, and the athletic skill. I have played many sports at a high level and none of them were hockey.
So, why the lengthy intro?
Because I want you to understand the background behind someone who doesn't believe in fighting in hockey.
During the locked out period, many ideas flew around about how to improve the game. I think the best one I heard was to decrease bench size rosters by one player. Granted, the NHLPA was never going to agree to that - it would put 30 guys out of a job. Teams would have to allocate their fourth line players differently. With one less person, coaches would arguably want two players that could fill different roles on the team. Maybe a PK and a PP specialist? The "fighter" type would have less mobility in the lineup and would therefore be eliminated.
My biggest problem is the "fighter". If you're just going to send someone out there to drop the gloves when the puck is dropped, you might as well fit Mike Tyson with skates. And you know he'd be a draw to the arena in the US. What's the point of averaging as much ice time as penalty time?
I look at the international, junior and college play. Is anything lost in those games because you don't see the squaring off of two mediocre hockey players?
When I make this argument, usually the counterpoint is that a good fight can change the momentum in the game. I'd argue that a big hit (within the confines of the rules) can do the same thing. I don't condone injuring players on hits, but the effect of Raffi Torres in the playoffs was seen without him ever dropping his gloves. It's similar to a huge hit in football. It's within the parameters of the game and there's no stoppage for it to happen.
I think fluidity is what makes the game what it is. No other game has people travelling with that speed and skill. Ideally, stoppages would be limited to goals (obviously not possible). But the best games just fly by.
With recent rule changes, many teams are going without a fighter in the lineup. If a fight is needed, you see regular player take that role. But if Shanahan breaks his wrist or if (god forbid) Ethan Moreau throws out his shoulder when trying to punch someone, doesn't it seem erroneous? The clock wasn't even running when it happened.
No other sport gets to stop to fight. I think it's just an ancient tradition that has been held onto for too long. A lot has changed since pond hockey.
If purists believe that fighting is here to stay, then my suggestion is to let players fight. If they are that mad, fine. But you're out for the rest of the game and if it happens in the third period, you're also out for the next game. And your team isn't able to bring in an extra body to replace you.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
A bit of background on yours truly: