Here is a piece contributred by Daily Faceoff friend Rich Lindbloom
“Hey Bob, we need to take the violence out of hockey,” I yelled over to the shipping foreman where I work. This exchange would take place just about every Monday morning as I passed his desk. Bob was a lot of things I’m not; tough as nails, missing a few teeth and occasionally acquainted with a bar room brew-haha. His favorite players were ruffians like The Hound and The Hammer. He was definitely more concerned with who pounded who, than highlight reel goals- those were for sissies as he put it. Opening a can of whoop-ass was Bob’s style of hockey. With his seemingly insatiable thirst for blood, I can only assume his evolutionary line can be traced back to sharks.
While I could name the top 10 in scoring, Bob could name the top 10 penalty leaders. One year we tried to convince him to play in our golf league. His reply was perfect, “I’ll start playing golf when I can physically stop my opponent from getting the ball in the hole.” His kids gave him a tape of The NHL’s Greatest Fight’s one Christmas and even he admitted after about 30 min.’s had to turn it off. It was the only chink I ever saw in his armor.
The obvious dichotomy in why we enjoyed different aspects of this macho game begs the question, what is a true hockey fan? Am I less of a fan because I preferred watching the Flying Frenchmen rather than a game laden with malfeasance. It’s safe to say no one doubts the passion of us fans who pay $150 to wear a sweater with our favorite players name on it. (By the way the only reason I didn’t get a Ruutu jersey was I was afraid he’d be traded – I’m not a total wimp.)The truth is we watch this game for varying degrees of many reasons. It’s the speed, strength, danger, skill, sacrifice and ok, I’ll admit it, occasional misconduct. In what other sport can you try to decapitate your opponent and the worst that will happen to you is a two minute time out, five minutes if you’ve really been a bad boy! Hell, at least I spanked my kids. Maybe Bettman should issue the ref’s paddles.
This brings us to a discussion of the gentleman who often times brought us to our feet when he wore the Indian Head, that dirtbag known as Wiz. Anyone recall when he tied the game up against the Blues two years ago on Easter Sunday with a slapshot from the slot with 20 seconds remaining? (How do I remember that and not what my wife asked me to bring home from the store five minutes ago?) How about when he pounded Jordan Tootoo two years ago.
Yes, Wiz was a “formerly” well liked player in Chicago – oddly enough for his toughness and hard nosed play. That being said, it was an obvious attempt to seriously injure an opponent who was not expecting a cheap shot from his former teammate. Seabs was scheduled to stand up in Wiz’s wedding this summer, although something tells me Brent won’t be renting a tuxedo at this point. The vicious assault in no way could be construed as just a hard check. Do we really want hockey to devolve into Ultimate Fighting on skates? (Of course Bob would have used the word – evolve.)
I read on a blog site that this type of behavior is a result of the instigator rule – not being able to jump in and defend a pulverized teammate. I don’t buy that, if your that upset about a play, take the penalty and drop the gloves. I’m not sure about thieves, but for the most part there is honor among hockey players. I actually would have loved to see a Wiz – Seabs bout. Wiz is a major dude with the fists, quite adept at haymakers and roundhouse rights. Now that’s hockey!!
Being a Chicago Homie I was obviously very pleased with the suspension. Not necessarily to punish the Duck who had resorted to “fowl” play, but to send a message around the NHL that cheap shots to the head will not be tolerated. Is hockey any for the better with a Savard or Campbell out? What really irked me was Wiz’s statement that he didn’t think he did anything wrong with his assassination attempt. Kind of like the sibling who states, “He started it.”
I did note one positive outcome of Wiz’s terrorist attack. (Where’s Janet Napolitano when you need her?) I’m pretty adept at reading lips. When Seabs went to the bench, one of the trainers appeared to ask him his name. I could be mistaken, but I’m quite certain he said, “Duncan Keith!” Now, if we can only get him to play like him.
There were plenty of fans on the blog sites that echoed his sentiment. I have to think these fans believe the Chiefs from the movie Slapshot, are the epitome of a hockey team, sans the strip teasing, pusillanimous pacifist Ned Braden of course. Actually, I started to worry about Eager when he took his jersey off in the penalty box! On a side note, didn’t Ivanans look like the true essence of a hockey player? Killer Carlson got nothing on that ugly mug.
The debate will continue to rage on about the violence in hockey. For those of you who think the crackdown on cheap shots is going to ruin the game – what other sport would you turn to. Football is close I guess accept for the continual stop in play. No, I don’t think the league has to be too concerned about losing you “O’Reilly at the bar,” type fans. (O’Reilly was singing, O’Reilly was swinging, says I’m gonna smash your face, O’Reilly was smashing his face.)I ask this question with some reservation; who would you rather see play a Ty Domi or a Dennis Savard, a Brain Watson or a Bobby Hull?
To all you meatballs out there telling me to take up squash or girls hockey etc., take heart. I do contain remnants of my Irish grandma’s blood. We used to watch the game at her house in the Original Six days. She’d sit there knitting away, paying little attention to the game until the fists started flying. I swear, I recall her dropping her needles while throwing rights and lefts, with her face contorted in anger screaming hit em, kill em! God help the person who took her pew in church! By the way, for those of you who don’t think God would be a hockey fan consider this passage from Exodus 21:24 – “eye for eye, Tooth for Tooth, hand for hand, burn for burn, word for word, bruise for bruise.” Try to convince me He was not describing a hockey game. Just a warning to my friends who would say “Jesus said to turn the other cheek” – the bible clearly states when he returns He will be kicking ass and taking names. That’s one enforcer you might want to include on your bench.
One thing that was undeniable for Bob and I – we both loved this game. When he passed away, I thought about wearing my Blackhawk jersey to the wake. After reconsidering, I thought that it might be a little disrespectful. I should have went with my gut for when I walked into the funeral parlor their were at least 10 Hawk jersey’s on freinds and family. Some of those friends had attended a Hawk matinee that day, no doubt hoping for a fight. Mr “Hockey’s becoming to Soft” was laid to rest in his jersey.
Rest assured Bobby, hockey will always be contested on the “macho” side of the ledger. Violence will always be interspersed with what I consider the better part of the game. Indeed, take heart, even a panty waist like me realizes that every once and awhile, someone needs to get pounded out there. Although momentarily stunned, can you imagine what a Hulk Hogan would have done to Wiz after he shook his head a couple of times? Has anyone checked to see if Hulk can skate?
Keep your heads up Wiz and Alex. And to those of you macho men out there who think I’m too soft for applauding Ovechkin’s and Wiz’s suspension, well I guess there is just no other way to put it; “I hope a giant crab eats your face!”
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