As I type this, the Flyers are down 3-0 to mid-way through the second period to the NY Rangers and Philly's Mike Richards has just nuked Brandon Dubinsky with an open ice hit. Dubes naturally takes exception to this and drops the gloves, an invitation Richards gladly accepts. As the expectant buzz ripsaws through the crowd, a Dubinsky left clocks our intrepid hero and drops him with a bloody gash over his left eye. Meanwhile, Pierre MacGuire is splooging all over his little cube between the benches as he waxes orgasmic about Captain Richards. "THAT'S LEADERSHIP!", he screams at a breathless nation. The Ranger faithful are roaring their approval of Dubinsky's knock down, and I am thoroughly entertained.
Of course that's only because I, and apparently the 18,000+ at MSG plus the NBC/TSN audience are immoral monsters prone to bouts of mindless blood lust between puppy kicking sessions. Or so I am made to understand.
Oh my heavens, but has the last week presented the teeth gnashers with a perfect storm, hasn't it? Trevor Gillies' 10 game suspension. Golden Boy Taylor Hall having his season ended in a fight with Derek Dorsett. And the ugliest of ugly elephants in the room, the release of a Boston University report detailing how Bob Probert suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy caused, we are informed by countless sports writers cum neuroscientists, by too many Tie Domi or Jeff Beukeboom punches to the face.
And so the soapboxes (no relation) were duly hauled out and the inevitable hue and cry went out across the land: "Fighting has no place in hockey and now must surely be banned!!" Nothing new there. It's as sure a sign of spring as the first robin or another futile Leaf "charge" to the playoffs. But this time, there's a new undercurrent to the debate and it goes something like this: "Fighting has no place in hockey and now must surely be banned. JUST LOOK AT OUR EVIDENCE!! If you don't agree you're obviously a stupid, barbarous sub-human, no different than a Roman plebe cheering on the lion."
To which I, an avowed supporter of fighting's absolute place in the game of hockey (and who will be until they pry my old Sherwood from my cold dead hand), would respond "Oh really? Let's look at your evidence". Gillies' hit on Clutterbuck, as much as anyone hates to admit it, was a clean shot to the shoulder. He was given 10 games because a) Clutterbuck's head bounced off the glass, which in turn caused him to drop like a sack of potatoes and b) he's Trevor Gillies and perfectly disposable. Scott Stevens made a career out of hits like that, and he's in the Hall of Fame. Young Master Hall's injury wasn't caused by the fight but by his inability to fall down properly.
And as for Probert's brain, well...with apologies to the Probert family, how about we broaden the sample a tad and study the brains of dead hockey fighters who didn't spend twenty years in a cocaine and alcohol fuelled haze before we decide what did or did not cause that player's brain damage? Just a thought.
In the meantime, spare me the lecturing nanny-isms and the breathtaking hypocrisy (really, Mike Milbury?). Spare me the righteous indignation born of an inability to compare apples to apples. As Marc Savard or Sidney Crosby could attest, a fight is not the same as a gratuitous head shot on an unsuspecting opponent.
But most of all, as long as the Great And Learned Hockey Pundits refuse to call for the banishment of the Matt Cookes, Dan Carcillos or Bryan Marchments of the world, spare me the aspersions cast upon the characters of those who maintain that fighting belongs in the game precisely because of dangerous, career threatening, cowardly pieces of shit like Matt Cooke, Dan Carcillo and Bryan Marchment.
(Coming up: Thoughts on yet another 3rd jersey, a new man crush, let's not be too hasty my dear and the return of The Angry Chihuahua)
DEAR JEBUS SAVE ME FROM THE MARKETING COCKROACHES!
As Graeme touched on earlier this week, plans are afoot for yet another spiffy new jersey, this one in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the rebirth of your Ottawa Senators. We're told it will render homage to those glorious Cup winning Ottawa teams of yore through the medium of horrible graphics and eminently mockable logos. Fantastic. Forgive my decidedly less than enthusiastic response, but this may have had a bigger impact on the fan base (and hence The Emperor's merch sales) if the pointy foreheads in marketing hadn't spent the majority of those twenty years trying to separate the fans from their money by constantly re-inventing the wheel. By my count this will be jersey # 9, but then I may have lost track of a couple. With all due respect to our Benevolent Overlord...CAN WE NOT JUST FUCKING PICK ONE ALREADY?? Nine jerseys in 20 years. At this point, the next one could be woven from the Shroud of Turin and possess the power to heal the sick or raise the dead, and I still wouldn't buy it knowing the next one is six months away. It's like trying to buy a fucking IPad.
Dear Mike, it's not you. It's me.
I'm secure enough in my masculinity to admit that the Fish trade was really, really hard. On a strictly analytic, impartial level getting a first round pick for a 30 year old second line (at best) centre was a stroke of brilliance. But man...my man crush on everything Mike Fisher stood for as a hockey player and human being was anything but analytic and impartial. As a matter of fact, my man crush spent the first two weeks after The Trade locked in its bedroom and crying into a pillow. Then along came a new object of admiration. Someone who, while never replacing Fish (no, never that) may well, given enough time, take a place along side him in the heart inscribed binder of my mind. And that someone is Colin Greening. 6' 3", 210lbs, skates like the wind with a slightly less new-Bible-y smell about him. Mike Fisher? That was SOOO 2010.
Let us now progress to the awkward groping.
Everyone has fallen in love with Craig Anderson. And what's not to love? Almost single handedly, he has revived a moribund city with something sorely lacking in Hockey Country over the least two years. Namely, competent goaltending, a fact Petey MacSpooge reinforced on several occasions during the Rangers' game. As a result, the need...nay, ABSOLUTE OBLIGATION to sign the soon-to-be UFA has now become the cause-celebre of both the MSM and the trog infested call-in shows. But soft, young Romeo. We risk being the young man who falls in love with the girl to whom he loses his virginity. We have no basis of comparison, and therefore this is the most beautiful woman on the entire planet and we would do anything for her no matter the cost. But unlike my prom date, the Sens can either be cheap or easy but not both. The point of my strangely erotic trip down memory lane? Two years, $2M/per sounds about right. After all, there's a much prettier prom date waiting for us down in Bingo.
Welcome back, Ryan. We've missed you.
In all of the fawning over "The Kids", I feel the stellar play of one veteran (if we can call him that) player has been sorely overlooked. And that player is none other than Ryan Shannon. Ordinairily, it wouldn't be enough to single out, but it's my post and I kind of miss the single greatest Beloved inspired nickname of all time. Viva el chihuahua enojado!
Have a good week everyone. See you next Sunday. And remember...LET'S GO OILERS! *CLAP-CLAP-CLAPCLAPCLAP*
I read a rumour a while back that Anderson was traded because he wasn't interested in the 7.5 over 2 years that the Avs offered. If that's true I would say that as much as we all love how well he's been playing he's way over-valued. First of all I'm a little wary of a goaltender who has 20 games to improve his numbers going into free agency. Last year his save percentage was .917 which is good but not unattainable elsewhere. He also started the season in Brian Elliot range, which is suspicious, injuries notwithstanding. I would also make the point that if the Sens really need a good and reliable goalie then Vokoun and or Bryzgalov are UFAs and probably fetch what Anderson expects to get. I'm not a fan of the tank for 5 years in order to fill the farm; a GM needs to be able to restock the cupboards regardless of what the teams standing is. And considering that Lehner is at least a year away from consistently being in the NHL, getting an older veteran goalie who can mentor Lehner when he's ready is maybe the best bet.
@RyanH Oh I absolutely agree with you. It's difficult to get older goalies to make big moves like that, and I'm going with the assumption that neither of those two are going to go for more than they get now. I can't see Vokoun getting a raise, but Bryzgalov could possibly...
Mostly I'm just making the point that Anderson is probably not our one and only shot at getting above average goaltending. Personally I would like to see a guy come in who's a reliable veteran and a calming influence for the new guys. I'd still like to see Brodeur given a few more games. People seem to have forgotten that that improbable 11 game win streak started with his play bringing the Sens out of their slump. He was struggling with injuries this year and wasn't the time for a fair evaluation.
@Pmoron I'm somewhat inclined to agree with you about Anderson. Though I'd be horribly suprised if Bryzgalov or Vokoun would sign here. Especially the latter, he's getting on in his career and would probably choose a team with a much better shot at a cup in the next few seasons(or even that playoff hockey he's heard so much about). If somehow Bryzgalov wasn't retained by Pheonix, I feel we're not at the top of his list of future homes. And I think that would cost us more than Anderson would to sign him.
I get tired of hearing the argument that "the game happens so fast, players can't make the judgement..." yada yada yada. Why don't we use the same argument for the poor bastard who gets his clock cleaned? Instead it's: "he should have had his head up". There's also the idea that it's all or nothing. If players can't hit above the shoulder than we've effectively taken hitting out of hockey. Well players will adapt, and I'm betting the hip check will regain popularity. International hockey has tons of hitting, but it's clean and very exciting.
So this article starts as what looks like a defense to fighting and then there is no argument in favour. At all. The closest thing mentioned is that players should learn to fall down.
I'm more annoyed with Cherry's long held contention "that no one gets hurt in a fight". It's about time someone on HNIC finally pushed back against this canard. I just never expected it to be Milbury.
It aint' rocket science that a lifetime of blows to the held will result in multiple concussions, and multiple concussions are bad for your health. See boxers, professional wrestlers, football players, etc.
At the end of the the day eventually the NHL is going to have to tackle fighting's presence in the game if it's going to have a coherent head-shot policy.
The thing about the fighting isn't the *fighting*, SLC. It's this BS idea that fighting is somehow integral to the outcomes of games. How often does a fight truly swing momentum in a game? I'm not talking about a fight that results in a little five-minute uptick in intensity by the victor's team, I'm talking about someone's down 3-1 with 12 minutes to play in the third, the losing team's goon squares off with opposite number on the other team, he puts the guy on the ice, and the team rallies around that fight and comes back to win 4-3 entirely as a result of the bounce they got from watching their guy win. How often does that happen - once a season? Once every two seasons? Something like that, right?
But we're constantly fed this line from people defending fighting that fights are somehow crucial to the outcomes of games all over the NHL calendar year-in, year-out. And it's just not true.
If you all want to get together and just say that you like fighting for fighting's sake - that you have some bloodlust in you, and it's not really that important to the game but it's fun and it gets people out of their seats and it brings (some) fans to the game, then that's fine. We can have a conversation then. That's being adult and talking about the issue as it is. But until you all do that, there is no discussion because you're trying to rationalize fighting with reasons that just aren't there.
@Nichols6thSens @dzuunmod @RyanH I think the biggest problem with the "clean" hits is the intent. I believe we're experiencing a result of the Rock 'EM Sock 'EM era. 'Checking' in hockey was NEVER intended to be 'hitting', was it? If a player has the puck and another player uses his body to knock the puck-carrier off the puck and gains control of it himself, then the check is what it was meant to be. Blind open ice, 3 feet from the boards and airborne attacks are what really piss me off and I think that a player should get a few fed to his face if the league doesn't want to take action.Why 'hit' someone if you or your team doesn't gain possession of the puck? The only reason I can conceive of is to injure or intimidate. Please help me if you know of another reason?
@dzuunmod I recall quite vividly the media crediting Maxime Talbot's fight in a game as THE turning point which galvanized the Penguins to come back in a playoff series clinching game against Philadelphia a few years ago. Yes, i know that's only one example, but it's definately more common.
I'm not an advocate of fighting though, I could easily go an entire season without a fight and probably not even notice. My issue with fighting is players, such as Gilles, who play 5 minutes a night and their only role is to start a fight. I've hated on Neil for that many a night when the team isn't playing well, he tries to force a fight to get the team more energized. THAT, I dislike. The fights I feel affect the outcome of the game, are the spontaneous ones, a guy stands up for his teammate over a dirty hit, running of their goalie, hell even just things said on the ice. I'm okay with those, and really all we can do is educate the players on what fighting can do. Since they are agreed to, they know the risk they're taking by inviting another player to punch them in the head.