You probably know the old joke where someone says they went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out? Most fans love the fights. Most members of the media love the fights. Yet fighting is an image problem for the whiny NHL, even though the professional level of the sport is the only level that tolerates it. Hypocrites, perhaps? Fighting in hockey is one of those things for which there is no shortage of strongly held opinions. Some say its barbaric while some say necessary. I say its hockey.
In any case, true hockey fans all know about the “unwritten rules” of fighting in the sport. There are many types of fights, but only one set of unwritten rules.
The Engagement – Five Possible Instigations
- Bumping the opposing goalie.
- Cheap shot on a superstar
- Team lost momentum [instructed to by coach]
- Ticket sales lost momentum [instructed to by owner]
- You are Sean Avery
The Fight – Five Possible Scenarios
- A flurry of equally jarring rights/lefts from both players until one falls
- Lots of hugging
- The rare but loved one punch knockout
- The linesmen break up the fight before it “officially” starts
- One player loses balance, both players fall on top of each other, fans of both sides celebrate the fight win
The Aftermath – Five Possible Resolutions
- Both fighters go to their respective penalty box while their teammates slap sticks on the ice
- One fighter goes to the box while the other is attended to on the ice by the trainers
- One or both fighters are sent to the locker room
- An appointment with Colin Campbell [Brendan Shanahan in 2011 and beyond]
- The Montreal fan has called the police
While there may be violations of “The Code” or simple do’s and don’ts, the players on the ice for the most part all respect the rules and each other. You might see two players who have a hatred for the existence of the other and a trail of blood from center ice to the penalty box, but then again you might see two players fight that were teammates the season before, giving each other a wink from the penalty box because they both know they did what they had to do.
Whether you’re an enforcer, a star, or something inbetween – hockey is a passionate sport where everything doesn’t revolve around daisies and butterflies.