Friday, February 4, 2011

Hockey fights not for the faint of heart

There may yet come a time when fighting is banned in the NHL, but it won't be anytime soon and it won't result from a groundswell of pacifist sentiment in Boston. A full house at the Garden and players up and down both benches were beside themselves with delight last night as the Bruins and Dallas Stars set a new precedent for getting down to the bare-knuckled business of exchanging haymakers at center ice. Boston's Gregory Campbell and Steve Ott of the Stars went at it one second after the opening faceoff, followed by Shawn Thornton and Krys Barch on the next faceoff and Adam McQuaid versus Brian Sutherby when the puck was dropped at center ice for a third time.
Four seconds, three fights, and not just sweater-grabbing dance numbers where they hold on to each other and turn around in circles until one of the linesman makes his choreographed entrance. We're talking toe-to-toe, free-wheeling fisticuffs requiring the maintenance crew to come out and scrape the blood off the ice when it was over. As an added bonus for the home crowd, the Bruins scored two goals in the first minute and 20 seconds and went on to win the game 6-3. You could tell on TV that the atmosphere in the building was absolutely electric.
And guess what? There was no mad dash for the exits and no lamenting the mindless violence of it all, at least not among the fans in the building, who are the ones paying the bills, and the players in the game, who dropped the gloves of their own free will. So you can lump it if you wish, but the simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of people with a vested interest in hockey love a good hockey fight, and the only thing they love more is three good fights in a row.

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