Gloves Off

by - April 16, 2012 - - 9 Comments »


*Upped after watching the Rangers-Senators highlights.*

I was watching SportsCenter and some hockey highlights came on (I know, weird right?). I just had the TV on as wallpaper but something caught my eye, and not in a good way. It was a fight. A fight that wasn’t as much entertaining as it was silly. One that made its sport look like a joke.

I immediately tweeted out, “Fighting in hockey is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.” The hockey cult took umbrage to that remark. Replies started pouring in ranging from, “it’s a part of the game”, to “your stupid” (notice the irony in the fact that no one online seems to be able to properly conjugate you are). People were ready to check me into the boards.

Let me address the part of the game argument. Yes, it has been a part of the game. But is it a good part of the game? Doesn’t the fighting culture allow guys into the league who are more goons than they are quality players? Doesn’t that damage the quality of play? Plus, how does fighting impact the game other than resulting in players being put on timeout?

Then there’s the people watch for the fights argument. If true, that is a huge problem. First, because I’m sure the league would like viewers to tune in for entertaining games, not amateur fisticuffs. Second, and even more problematic, not that many people watch. I don’t mean to take a cheap shot but the fact is that NHL ratings are not in the same stratosphere as those of the NFL, NBA or MLB, to name a few examples. So saying people watch for the fights holds no weight.

Also, I think there may be some racial undertones involved with the acceptance of fighting in hockey. Would it be as celebrated in an organized team sport that isn’t predominantly white? I often hear hockey fights and even baseball brawls referred to as fun. However, when a basketball player shoves another, the word thug tends to be thrown out.

Look, I’m no hockey expert and I don’t want to come off as preachy. But despite not being an avid hockey consumer, I appreciate the speed, skill and athleticism involved in the game. I simply believe fighting takes away from it. And recently, the most interest I’ve seen from the casual fan regarding the sport came during the Olympics. No fighting there.

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9 Responses to “Gloves Off”

  1. Mike Mueller says:

    I can understand why you think fighting has no part in the game. Until you actually watch more than just highlights, you won’t be able to understand the place it has. You are right saying that some of the players that fight have less hockey skills than superstars. Having said that, the stars need those players to give them space. “Tough guys” on opposing teams will tend to leave the superstars to do their thing because they know that if you hit that superstar, they are going to have to pay a price. Space for superstars means more exciting play, and more scoring. Like you said, the speed, skill and athleticism involved in hockey can’t be matched by any other sport. Fighting is actually down from decades past because coaches have to be able to “roll 4 lines.” Everyone that is on the team needs to have elevated hockey skills in order to have a successful team. If you really want to understand the game, go to a few live. They don’t have to be NHL games either. Seeing the speed, skill and athleticism live, will help you when watching on TV. You won’t be disappointed if you give hockey a chance.

  2. Bryan says:

    “how does fighting impact the game other than resulting in players being put on timeout?”

    it energizes the crowd and gets them into the game. it creates team unity when players are willing to stick up for each other. a team that comes out flat can get momentum after a fight. the non hockey fan is the only one who doesn’t understand the importance of fighting. The players do. The coaches do. The fans do.

  3. Common Anomaly says:

    New Jersey Devils – MSG Plus – .47 rating – 2010-2011 season
    New Jersey Nets – YES Network – .38 rating – 2011-2012 season
    New York Islanders – MSG Plus – .34 rating – 2010-2011 season

    Same stratosphere, same metropolitan area, same old lies with absolutely no data support from Robin Lundberg.

  4. Pete says:

    I dont know how you report about sports when obviously you know nothing about hockey. Maybe your good at reporting football and baseball, but if you know nothing about a sport and have no facts to back up your argument. you should just keep your mouth closed because you are obviously just looking for attention.

  5. theone6643 says:

    See when you have a game with physical contact where everyone is carrying a weapon. You need to have a way for players to release tension or get at people who cross the line with the stick or even other ways. I’d rather a few fist get thrown then sticks being swung like in that fight in the movie Youngblood.

  6. Daniel says:

    This is a ridiculous statement.

    Fighting is a huge part of some of the unwritten rules of hockey. Let’s go back to Wayne Gretzky’s tenure during the NHL.

    As a sports reporter, I’d assume that you would know that Wayne Gretzky played on the Oilers during 80’s. I wouldn’t expect you to know that Wayne Gretzky always played along side an enforcer throughout that span of time, specifically Dave Semenko and Marty McSorley. The main role of those two players was to protect Wayne Gretzky.

    Both Dave Semenko and Marty McSorley brought a huge intimidation factor onto the ice. They basically let the other team know that if you are going to take a shot at Gretzky, then you better expect one of us to ruin your night. Take away Semenko and McSorley, and you have players from other teams cheap-shotting Gretzky at will without any fear of retaliation.

    With fighting, it is the same thing. There is a reason why fighting has been a part of the game for so long and why it will continue to stay in the game. If you take away fighting, then it becomes open season for cheap shots in the NHL. For example, Brian Boyle gave a couple of punches to Erik Karlsson in game one. If that went unanswered through the rest of the series, then the Senators are essentially saying it’s okay that Boyle messed with their star (and undersized) player. But it didn’t go unanswered. Right off the bat Carkner came out swinging against Boyle. Carkner let Boyle know that he isn’t going to get away with punching the Sens’ star player.

    From your article, I assume you don’t watch much hockey. The greatest cheap shotter of all time is Darcy Tucker. He did everything that goes against the unwritten rules of hockey, especially hitting players below the knees. Someone like Tucker would go wild in games in an NHL that doesn’t have fighting. He would go around cheap shotting everyone knowing that no one would be able to step up a take exception to what he is doing.

    When you see a fight on a highlight on ESPN, then of course it looks silly. Fighting in the NHL kind of looks silly to begin with. What the highlights don’t show you is everything leading up to the fight and all of the reasons why the fight commenced. Fighting has a huge impact on the game, and throughout season and playoff series.

    If anything, fighting has taken a lesser role in the NHL recently. Most of the leagues goons have been phased out, i.e. Colton Orr and Georges Laraque. Players in the NHL are now being forced to have more skill and they can’t be pure goons.

    By the way, fighting isn’t simply allowed in the NHL. A 5-minute major penalty is assessed to the participants in the fight.

    If you ever want to educate yourself more on the topic, then The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL is a great read.

  7. Common Anomaly says:

    Robin Lundberg believes fighting marginalizes hockey. I believe 1050 ESPN Radio marginalizes hockey. For example, prior to Senators-Rangers game 1 on Thursday, Michael Kay left his own radio program early at 5:15 PM, not to prepare for a Yankees broadcast, but to attend a dinner. Second, 1050 ESPN Radio decided the best fill-in for Michael Kay was hockey guru, Stephen A. Smith, who repeated in less than two minutes, that the Rangers have three guys on their roster who have won a Stanley Cup. And in his best impersonation of Rick Perry, he named Brad Richards, Mike Rupp, but couldn’t name the third player. Oops.

    On Friday, after the Rangers won game 1 on Thursday night, Ruocco and Lundberg did not spend a single second discussing the game, but had plenty of time to kill since Jared Jeffries missed his 1 PM scheduled spot like he was practicing layups.

  8. Common Anomaly says:

    Verne Lundquist? Where is a hockey alter ego when you need one? Is that going to be a regular weekly Saturday segment with Katie Strang from 9:34 AM to 9:36 AM? Segment should be called “Two minutes in the box for boring.” You asked Katie Strang the following in-depth question, “Are Rangers fans going to be happy?” Are you the same Robin Lundberg who has criticized Kim Jones in the past for her postgame questions?

    Multiple Olympic basketball references, leading off the 9 AM hour talking boxing, and Rangers hockey talk gets two minutes and three questions. A two-hour Robin Lundberg hosted show gets zero minutes and zero questions talking hockey. A three-hour Robin Lundberg hosted show gets two minutes and three questions talking hockey. And regardless if it is a two-hour or a three-hour Robin Lundberg hosted show, he definitely will not discuss Mets baseball.

  9. Common Anomaly says:

    What does Robin Lundberg have in common with a euthanized horse? He should be put down because he came up lame. Power Rangers? That’s not all the hockey talk he got in today. He also mentioned the secondary assist in hockey or as a lameman (see what I did there) would say, a hockey assist. Of course, he was talking about Carmelo Anthony making quicker passes out of the double team but at least he is using hockey references instead of Marvel, South Park, Malcolm Gladwell, Jay-Z, and Maryland hillbilly snake references. He could have mentioned Devils-Flyers game 4 tonight in his updates but Jay-Z isn’t an owner of that New Jersey team.

    In The Great Gatsby, I believe the minor character who sponged off Jay Gatsby and lived in his mansion was originally named Pep Rally. What does booing accomplish? What is the point? It accomplishes as much as a pep rally, which you readily endorse.

    Robin Lundberg states, “I don’t understand this hatred of LeBron. I just don’t hold grudges.” Adrian Grenier begs to differ.

    Robin Lundberg states, “Anyone who wanted the Knicks to match-up against the Heat is dumb.” I believe Stephen A. Smith has been called worse.

    Since you led off your show with horse racing and boxing and Great Gatsby talk, I will end this piece by saying, “23-skidoo.”

    An article in the June 26, 1906 New York American credits the phrase to one Patsey Marlson, then a former jockey hauled into court on a misdemeanor charge. At his hearing, Marlson is asked by the judge how the expression came about. He explains that when he was a jockey, he worked at a track which only had room for 22 horses to start in a line. If a 23rd horse was added, the long shot would be lined up behind the 22 horses on the front line. Apparently, “23 skidoo” implied that if the horse in the back was to have any chance of winning, it would really have to run very fast. Marlson also says in the article that the expression was originally “23, skidoo for you.”

    Perhaps the most widely known story of the origin of the expression concerns the area around the triangular-shaped Flatiron Building at Madison Square in New York City. The building is located on 23rd Street at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, and, due to the shape of the building, winds swirl around it. During the 1920s, groups of men would allegedly gather to watch women walking by have their skirts blown up, revealing legs, which were seldom seen publicly at that time. Local constables, when sometimes telling such groups of men to leave the area, were said to be “giving them the 23 Skidoo”.

    It is at a triangular site where Broadway and Fifth Avenue—the two most important streets of New York—meet at Madison Square, and because of the juxtaposition of the streets and the park across the street, there was a wind-tunnel effect here. In the early twentieth century, men would hang out on the corner here on Twenty-third Street and watch the wind blowing women’s dresses up so that they could catch a little bit of ankle. This entered into popular culture and there are hundreds of postcards and illustrations of women with their dresses blowing up in front of the Flatiron Building. And it supposedly is where the slang expression “23 skidoo” comes from because the police would come and give the voyeurs the 23 skidoo to tell them to get out of the area.

    An early nickelodeon movie, It Happened on 23rd Street, which dates from 1901, shows women’s skirts being blown up by the updraft from a ventilation grating, exposing their knees.

    However, the slang expression “23” was already in use before the Flatiron Building was built (1902), and Webster’s New World Dictionary derives skiddoo (with two d’s) as probably from skedaddle, meaning “to leave”, with an imperative sense.

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