Anti-fighting brigade in NHL minority
I loved my buddy John Moore's take on Sunday's "Bay Street Brawl" between the Mighty Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres.
"Here we go with the hand-wringing again," said John on Tuesday's "Moore in the Morning". "We all pretend we hate fighting, when most hockey fans absolutely love it."
John is right on.
Of course, there are always dissenting voices when it comes to puck pugilism. The Toronto Star's Damien Cox, for instance, always gets on his high-horse when it comes to hockey players dropping the gloves.
"The NHL (has) officially sanctioned this stuff (fighting) for years," writes Cox in Tuesday's Star, "blissfully unaware other sports (such as the NFL) with much greater popularity, TV ratings and revenues would never stand for it."
But you have to understand that Damien is a big tennis fan, and the athletes don't run around in wimpy white shorts in hockey. (Just kidding, Damien.....and tennis fans.) Seriously, though, it's ridiculous to compare the NFL's popularity and revenue stream with the NHL. For one thing, football is "America's Game" and takes advantage of the huge U.S. population. Hockey, on the other hand, is "Canada's Game" and, like it or not, most hockey fans in our country love a good scrap.
Two days after the fact, everybody's still buzzing about Sunday's pre-season punch-up. Heck! Even my family doctor said he loved it, while admitting he enjoys watching two guys drop the gloves and get at it.
"Just as long as nobody gets hurt," the good doctor, of course, offers up as a qualifier.
Aha! Ammunition for the anti-fighting brigade, who point out the health hazards of hockey fights. It's true. People do get hurt when they drop the gloves and, in 2009, Ontario senior hockey player Don Sanderson died after hitting his head on the ice during a scrap. But while that was a terrible tragedy, it hasn't stopped most fans from leaping to their feet and screaming their lungs out when two guys decide to get down and dirty. It's the element of danger, in fact, that fuels the passion for sports such as NASCAR Racing, UFC matches and, yes, hockey fights.
"But what about the bad influence NHL goons have on kids?," the hockey pacifists ask.
Look.....I've got two little lads at home and I definitely don't want them exchanging punches in a minor hockey game. But even at the ages of 6 and 7, my guys are well aware of the differences between kids hockey and the NHL variety. Unlike kid's hockey, where safety and fun should always be front and centre, the NHL is played by grown men making big bucks; all of whom have accepted the risk of competing in a sometimes violent sport.
Like it or not, fighting is a huge part of the NHL's sales pitch. Just look at the new "NHL 14" video game, whose marketing campaign is based largely on the fact that the fights are more realistic than ever.
The only thing better than a video game fight?
The real thing baby, and if you didn't get a kick out of Sunday's Leafs-Sabres tilt, brownie points for being so civilized.
But if you're not a fighting fan, the cold hard truth is that you're not much of an NHL fan.