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Tailing the Komets

The fight game

OK, this ought to spark enough discussion here to last a month, and I'm telling you upfront I'm going to play the devil's advocate role. No name-calling unless it is directed at or from Hit Somebody, whom I think enjoys it. LOL. Play nice and I think we can have a lot of fun with this, but I'm guessing this discussion might get quite emotional. Here goes:

Does fighting hurt hockey as a sport in terms of legitimacy?

Why should two guys on the ice be allowed to get away with something that two fans 15 feet away in the stands would be arrested for and charged? How can a sport that officially endorses breaking the law be legitimate? If you took fighting out of the game, would you lose fans or gain fans, and if that's the only thing bringing some fans to the game, just how good is that sport? Does fighting really add to the game? (I actually know people who won't take their kids to games because of fighting.) How does hockey get away from the stereotype of fighting to the broader audience, and it must draw a broader audience?

If you say it's a physical game, well, so is football and the players control themselves. When do you start to teach players it's OK to fight? Is it OK for the kids? Why not? If no one gets hurt fighting, why doesn't everyone do it?

For years the argument is that there would be too much stickwork, but hasn't that already happened even with fighting? How often do players actually retaliate for stickwork by fighting? If fighting is gradually decreasing anyway, how much worse would it be just to eliminate it completely?

How do you explain it to friends who ask about fighting?

BTW, does anybody out there know why fighting was included in the game originally? I'm curious. OK, so have at it.

Posted in: Komets


Tue, 05/23/2006 - 12:33pm

Blake, I don't have a good answer for you. Fighting is part of the sport. I don't believe it takes anything away from the game. At times it actually gets the crowd going. Fighting is a very smoall part and done by a very select few. And as we've talked on these boards, if fighting is all you can do then you won't get much playing time.
I would bet that the ultimate innocent fan doesn't get everything there is about hockey, unless this person lears everything about the sport and asks questions about they'll come up with their own opinion.
I'll even wager that a person who has never seen the game heard about the fights and goes to a game to see a fight, when none happens that's when they become disappointed.

Bottom line Blake, fighting is part of hte game period. You said the argument that it is doesn't work we have to explain it better as to why it is, tough deal with it.
I think I said this before those who don't like fighting at all don't have to come, those who don't like can say they don't like it and deal with it. People who don't like the fighting probably (but not always) understand the game.

I respect anyone's opinion if they say they don't care for the fighting, if they want to not go or see another hockey game because of it so be it. I know why fighting occurs and until the powers that be state the fighting will no longer be tolerated and penalize players and teams accoridingly, I say keep it in.

I hope some of this makes sense.

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 12:39pm

I'm wondering if A) the sport could survive without fighting; or B) if the sport can survive WITH fighting? I don't think any hockey owner, commissioner or whatever can be satisfied with the sport's popularity.

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 12:40pm

by the way Blake, I disagree with the comment that the sport doesn't want to eliminate fighting because it will lose a significant portion of it's fan base. I think they see it as a tradition as well and they know they need the type of player who will fight and try to keep law and order on the ice. What's already been stated on the board is that the "fighter" has to be able to play the game as well or why have him in the lineup. A tema is not going to play a "fighter" on a regular shift and risk the chance of giving up a goal.

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 12:43pm

With fihgting at it's current level I thnk it will be okay. To eliminate totally I think would cause some ticket sales issues but not many. If fighting goes up then I think you run the risk of people getting disgusted with the sport because you may have players just picking fights for no reason. Now a days, there's some type of reason for the fight, to get a team hyped up, to get the crowd going, to tell the other team a hit was a cheap shot and not to do it again.
The funny thing is owners and teams can always change the rules. It might help it might not.

Hit Somebody!!!
Tue, 05/23/2006 - 2:59pm

Blake, I think that you and others saying that we didn't see much of the fight game on our team this year, equals that fighting is not much a part of the game is straight up bologna. The most successful teams in the league this year were the tougher of the teams up and down their rosters this year. And I don't mean just fighting. I am talking team toughness, mentally and physically.

Yes we all complained all year that guys didn't stick up for teammates and didn't do the things that make for a physically tough team. But you have to judge only this team by the personel and by the coaching style. I think the two teams in the finals right now from top to bottom on their rosters are not afraid to stand-up for a fellow teammate and will play a physical game as needed by doing the little things like taking the body and playing the along the boards and down in the corners. Didn't you guys read their box scores all year, we even saw some of them posted on here a time or two. When a team makes an effort to bring in non-physical players that is what you end up with. We played all year with a group of guys for the most part that would skate away from hits and confrontation. We even had a big tough defensemen who told us all that the league was afraid of him, and in the playoffs didn't even show-up to play. I think fighting is just a small fraction of the game anyway. The bigger problem is that we had guys who wouldn't use their bodies in front of and around the net. Our defensemen wouldn't ride their guys off the play like in the past. We only had a few guys who were willing to play in the corners and bang for the puck. That is what was missing this year. And that was why our team was just average this year.

You have to assemble a team that has characters who also have talent. I think we all know what has to happen with this hockey club to finally see that. I don't have to say it.

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 3:18pm

I agree, Hit, but I also think there's a difference between toughness and fighting a lot of the time.

Hit Somebody!!!
Tue, 05/23/2006 - 3:25pm

I do too, I'd like the toughness part before the fighting. I think the toughness is the thing that needs fixed first on this team to make us solid for next year. The fighting will come as needed, with the right group of guys that believe in each other and who want to be here. Don't you think?

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 3:27pm

Agree totally, but dang it, I'm supposed to be the Devil's Advocate here. LOL.

Hit Somebody!!!
Tue, 05/23/2006 - 3:31pm

I am going to Indy tomorrow, want me to bring you back a sack of 10 white castles? Maybe I will raise a little hell when I am down there and get some people fired up about the Ice in the UHL!

That would be awesome to have the Ice and the Komets on the same ice again. Then ask us the questions about fighting. I am sure everyone would be on-board then. LOL

Tony E
Tue, 05/23/2006 - 6:45pm

Now, do we teach kids fighting is wrong or do we teach them that it is only a last resort in order to defend yourself?

Tony E
Tue, 05/23/2006 - 6:47pm

Komets PA I bet it has been 10 years since the last NHL bench clearer.

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 7:26pm

Well if your waiting for hockey games to teach your kids life lessons...umm..theres the problem. If you have already built a good foundation with your kids, then explaining a hockey fight should be no problem. Tryin to explain fighting's legitimacy in hockey would be kinda like trying to explain baseballs "unwritin" rules. The very first thing that hooked me about hockey when I was a kid was the fights. Now I love every aspect of the game. I believe hockey is losing popularity because of the lack of hitting. The sport is becoming too much like soccer, up and down, very little hitting, and until this years rule changes low scoring. In fact I would argue that getting rid of the instigator penalty and bringing back rougher games would boost its popularity. People want excitment not the neutral zone trap. The casual fan wants to see some scraps, not disney on ice. I've talked to several people who used to go to 20 or so games a year who only come now to games that have the potential for a scrap. Right or wrong, who knows....

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 8:13pm

What do you tell your kids? Each parent will decide on how to explain this their children as they see fit based on their own beliefs, backrounds, or social status in society. Some may not explain it at all. Some may BS there way through it like they would if their kids walked into the bedroom with some candles burning, LOL. Others may explain that its part of the sport itself but not acceptable outside the confines of the ice surface. A others may just tell little Johnny that Fels just beat the hell out of Worlton and if anybody messes with you on the playground, you do the same. Gotta love that parent. Breeding a future jailbird.
Of the four major sports, I cannot think of anything that has more physical contact to everyone in the field of play more than hockey. Scrums or altercations are going to happen. You will never "ban" fighting. You can rule against it, but there will still be instances where it will occur and unlike in today's game, the punishment will be felt in the wallet and/or missed games instead of a 5 minute break. Does it make the sport what it is today? No. The game has evolved too much since the all white boards and blood and guts days of old.
I would say way back in the day hockey fans wanted to see a tilt first...hockey game second. Hell, all you used to see from those days were fights. I think that was for pure entertainment value to get more people to buy into the sport as it grew. Then you had young stars come into the ranks like Gretzky and Lemieux and they changed the game. What they did was pure magic and exciting. They put butts in the seats. In order to allow them space and freedom to do what they did, you had players on the rosters who were the policemen.
Now, my opinion is at the college, junior, and major junior level....the game sells itself. Its hockey at its purist form. Your maybe seeing the "next one" or the future stars of the NHL. As you trickle further and further away from the NHL and towards the "NHL never will be" leagues, you are not selling out your arenas or putting more fans into the seats on hockey alone in the minors (UHL, ECHL, SPHL, ect). Your doing it with promotions, advertising, your team standing within your league, and yes....tough guys. Its kind of hard for me to explain this part but I think your enforcers are the most popular players on the team and they attract a fan base, more than your captain in most cases or your leading scorers. This is not necessarily true acrossed the board as FW would probably draw the same (good attendance) as would some other team in the lower end of the attendance figures, regardless of you you had on the roster.

Alright....I am done rambling and I have a screaming headache.

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 8:26pm

Greg, the only reason they are considering adding another roster spot is to have more goons. I believe your notion is out-dated.

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 8:27pm

The fighting will continue to be a part of the game, perhaps not like it was 5, 10, 15 years ago. But the way the game is taught and played by today's youth is not the same as it was back in the day. If someone like Jeff Worlton was taking lessons on how to fight better from Steve Fletcher....while I am all in favor of making an effort to improve your skills, but by the time you become a professional hockey player I would think that you would know how to at least defend yourself, if not your team mates. Think of it this way.....when I was a kid in school if someone kept picking on me for no reason or was trying to steal my lunch, etc. after awhile you would get tired of the schoolyard bully and pop the bully! After that, the bully knew that you were'nt going to put up with his crap and you earned his respect and he would leave you alone. Today, you get suspended and have to get "sensitivity training" or something like that. It's really sad when you have to have legislation to "protect you" from bullies. My point being, while I am not encouraging violence, but if you can't protect yourself from a little thug in grade school...how are you going to stick up for yourself when you're a grown man? I know what I'm saying isn't PC, but it's the only comparison that I could think of.

Komets PA
Tue, 05/23/2006 - 10:23pm

Tony, you are correct. The last bench clearing brawl happened in the 1996-97 playoffs. The teams escape me now but great guess. And how many baseball bench clearers have we had since then? And all because of being hit by a little white ball. Shows how tough they really are. Add some checking and really make it a sport. I miss hockey already.

Tony E
Tue, 05/23/2006 - 11:13pm

Was that the Wings Avalanche? That is what I was thinking of. I believe it was in the playoffs when Vernon and Roy went at it and I am pretty sure the benches emptied.

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 6:19am

Talk about fighting, did anybody else watch that Ducks/Oilers game last night? What an awesome game. I almost went to bed when the Oilers were leading 4-0. Glad I didn't. That was the most fights I've seen in one game for quite a while too. LOL Roloson made some spectacular saves.

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 6:49am

I saw it--that has to be one of the most exciting finishes I've seen in a long time; so much fun to watch. How can anyone not love this sport?? I didn't think the fights took anything away from the display of talent--or added much to it for that matter. Remember a few weeks ago when the media predicted doom and gloom for Roloson?

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 7:13am

Blake, Who says a team has to use to roster spot for a "goon". Why can't they use it for a seventh d-man or an extra forward? Are teams going to get fined for not putting a "goon" into the line up, I think not.

I'm not saying this would be popular, but I would rather have a player that could play a regular shift and fight like Kotyluk and/or Willis. I would not use the space for a guy who doesn't have the skills to play a regular shift. I believe the "goon" has gone the way of the do-do.

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 8:30am

Sparky, I agree. I think Roloson has been a huge asset for the Oilers. That one save he made last night on his knees just barely grabbing the puck with his glove was incredible.

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 9:49am

Watching these final four goalies has been a blast; I can't figure out if they're all phenoms or if they just look better this year because I'm so happy to have hockey to watch. I'm going out on a (short) limb and predicting Conn Smythe for Rollo, what do you think ILH?

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 10:53am

But Greg, that's the only reason they are adding the spot. They don't care about extra forwards or defensemen or they'd stay at the 19-man roster. That's the only reason because they are afraid of losing those fans.

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 2:09pm

And they should be. There are fans who come to watch fights. Whats the big deal? They pay for a ticket. Bring back a "goon" spot on the roster. Make something exciting happen.

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 2:20pm

But the question comes back to then, how is the sport legitimate if it needs fighting to sell?

Tony E
Wed, 05/24/2006 - 2:38pm

Unless it is Boxing or UFC, it wouldn't be legitimate. Thankfully most fans of hockey don't expect fighting to be entertained.

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 2:44pm

There is an aspect of darn near every popular sport that if you removed it attendance would suffer. If you took tackling out of the NFL and made them play "flag" football taking that violent factor out you would lose alot of fans... If you made Nascar slow down and practice defensive driving taking those stupendous wrecks out of the races, you would lose fans... If you made Nba players keep thier hands to themselves and observe a personal space rule...wait a minute I already hate the NBA so who cares what they do... I'm just tryin to point out thatthere is alot of violence in our most popular sports that attracts us to them one way or another. I'm sure that someone smarter than I can tell you why this is; but it is a common fact that this society loves carnage, we cant help ourselves. If we switched hockey and football around to where hockey was the most popular sport in this country would we even be having this conversation asking if fighting hurts the sport???

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 3:22pm

JR the difference is that fighting is technically illegal. If you get in a fight,you are more than likely to get arrested.

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 3:47pm

Nobody ever goes to grab a hotdog when two guys square off.

Wed, 05/24/2006 - 3:49pm

What I question is how two guys square off, beat the crap out of each other and get a 5 minute penalty.

I've seen the same two guys try to get at each other but don't make it and get a 10 minute penalty. They would have been better of actually striking the other guy -- less of a penalty.