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Vulgar Opinions: It Was An Even Fight, I Guess, If He Had His Stick


If you don’t want to watch the entire six and a half minutes of video, here’s the transcript:

  • 185 pound Corey Tropp (of Buffalo) fights 220 pound Jamie Devane.
  • Tropp goes down, Devane lands on him driving his head into the ice.
  • On the next shift Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle puts a skill line out against the Sabres goon line proving that like Bryan Murray, he too is blind, a moron, or both.
  • 270 pound John Scott goes after 203 pound Phil Kessel.
  • 203 pound Phil Kessel decides sword fighting is better and slashes Scott repeatedly and while Scott is engaged with the rest of the Maple Leafs.
  • 203 pound Phil Kessel ends up fighting 170 pound Brian Flynn.
  • John Scott defeats, like, all the Maple Leafs, tearing a hole in the space-time continuum and ensuring 46 plus years of failure.
  • David Clarkson leaves the bench at some point for the purpose of getting hugged by a ref while John Scott yells at him I guess.
  • Toronto media is butthurt.
  • Fighting is bad.
  • etc.

I mention the weights because no one is spreading the blame so I might as well do it.  People have an issue with Scott going after Kessel because Scott is enormous and a fighter and Kessel is only sort of the first.  It violates the unspoken code between NHL players that loosely dictates the “rules” of fighting.  So by most people’s standards Scott did something stupid and dirty, violating the code in the process.  Furthermore they hate what he did because he is so much bigger and tougher than Kessel.

If you don’t like what Scott did for these reasons, then you also have to have distaste for Kessel for using his stick like an axe and fighting out of his weight class, and Jame Devane for doing the same with Tropp and getting the whole thing started in the first place.  (And no this doesn’t absolve Tropp or Flynn for making ultimately dumb decisions  to instigate those fights either.)  If you do it right, the story is less “John Scott is a big asshole” and more “nobody involved in the incident made a good decision, the NHL included.”  Great.  I’m so glad we got to this point.

So fighting is bad, yes?  Maybe.  I don’t really like guys missing time because their faces got bashed in while engaging in some meaningless spectacle.  At the same time I like when emotion comes to a head and it might be a good thing that it does by way of relatively fair fights instead of escalating dirty play that is probably more dangerous.

Thus I can’t in a vacuum disagree with the people that want fighting taken out of the game completely (or to the best of the NHL’s ability because it’ll still happen).  But that argument doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and I think that handing down suspensions that would nix fighting would only result in an uptick in dirty play that the NHL isn’t any good at combating.  Improve supplementary discipline and make boarding an automatic major and I feel a lot better about banning fighting.  (Then again, maybe I’m wrong and the threat of getting your face punched isn’t enough for the Ruutus of the world.)

There’s also the fact that banning fighting doesn’t necessarily prevent fighters from taking the ice, and those guys are probably going to find ways to be detrimental to safety another way.  If the day comes where fighting is to be taken out of the game, the NHL would do well to approach it from as many angles as possible, like actually enforcing penalties against the interference and obstruction that allows big slow guys to exist in the NHL.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/23/13 3:33 PM

    I understand the idea of the frustration boiling over, and the idea of keeping the cheap shots in check. I don’t know how much data there is to back those arguments up, but they at least make sense in the “WHARRGARBLE” that we’ll hear ad nauseum.

    I fuggin hate the “guy goes out to fight to motivate his team” like he’s waving the battle in the fucking Charge of the Light Brigade. The Sabres were losing their second in a row to the rival Leafs, so we’re supposed to think that the best way for a group of adult men to get motivated to win is to watch Corey Tropp go out and get his skull caved in by a larger man? If by that you meant “suck the excitement out of fans that want to see a replacement for Pat Kaleta” then DING DING FUCKING DING, you hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately that nail then hit his head on the ice and went stiff while the crowd roared.

    The idea that an NHL team can get motivated by a fight is asinine and tired. And if that’s what it *does* take for a player on this team to realize “Holy shit, we’re getting our asses kicked! I’d better try harder!” then it doesn’t bode well for this or any season.

    • 09/23/13 3:39 PM

      Pretty sure the motivation argument was proven to be false. I think it was Coller who found that teams more frequently gave up than scored the next goal when their guy won a fight.

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