UPDATE: (Racki’s comments have been added below in italics)
I love watching hockey fights. I do. And I can pretty much guarantee that a whole lotta other people enjoy them too based on what I see at the Oilers games.
Hell, even in my own short lived hockey career I enjoyed the ol’ donnybrook every now and then.
That said (and I really like MacIntyre), I am not a big fan of the heavyweight. I’ll cheer when they do scrap, but it doesn’t seem as intense as when the fight occurs out of the heat of the moment, or when one of the little firecrackers that can score a little decide to chuck the knuckles.
Seriously, my favorite fighters are the Carcillo’s, Laperriere’s, Glencross’s and Backes’s. The little guys that swing for the fences, while at the same time show some ability to play. Even Gagner when he fights I find is more exciting than a heavyweight scrap.
Heavyweights just don’t seem to be able to perform the only duty that they are there for anymore.
I believe that the role of the enforcer was to deter the other team from doing stupid stuff, but with the instigator rule it seems to have limited the effectiveness of those players (for which it was intended no doubt). A true deterrent would be not asking for permission and just pounding the hell out of Tootoo (as an example) when he does something stupid, whether he wants to scrap or not. A true deterrent/enforcer can’t ask permission, they just need to destroy. I don’t think Semenko ever asked if the other guy was willing to fight if they ran Gretzky.
Plus with the advent of the instigator rule, we now have the rise of the pest who can effectively run around and get others off of their game without fear of retribution. You think Avery or Ott would pull half of the shit they do now if they knew that next time they stepped on the ice they would have their heads pounded in?
Really, one of two things are going to be phased out of the game: the heavyweight or the instigator.
Post title jacked from the song of the same name by Bring Me The Horizon.
The problem with heavyweights is they only generally fight other heavyweights, or guys on the cusp of being a heavyweight.
MacIntyre, I give him full credit for defending Pouliot after the ridiculous beat down he received from Vandermeer. There is not an Oiler fan who didn’t either watch Sportsnet highlights or the youtube video repeatedly to re-live the retribution Big Mac laid on Vandermeer though. That’s where they are still good.
However, we’ll flip to the other side of the coin. Last year the Montreal Canadiens hosted the Phoenix Coyotes in a game in which Kurt Sauer threw a vicious hit at star Andrei Kostitsyn. Whether your stance was that it was dirty or not (I personally thought the damage to Andrei’s face was enough proof), you just don’t let other teams get away with that stuff. Brother Sergei went bananas, and if it weren’t for players holding him back, he may have used the Russian-bongo attack on Sauer (close call).
So instead what happens is Laraque invites Sauer to the dance. Sauer respectfully (and expectedly) declines. What the hell good does that do? Here’s Laraque’s comments afterwards:
“Obviously, he’s not going to go with me – he’s not a heavyweight. I had to leave a message, but that’s why a guy like Kostopoulos, who is more his size, responded.” – Georges Laraque
I have to go back and watch that fight again to refresh my memory, but I don’t think Kostopolous accomplished the mission.
“I can’t jump on a guy and start pounding him and get five or 10 games (suspension). The league has punishment for hits to the head. I can only do so much. I don’t want to get the team in trouble.” – Georges Laraque
News flash, Georges… what the fuck do you think you are on the ice for? The Canadiens don’t pay you to score goals. They pay you to protect the team. You’ll be out 5 games, but trust me, if you beat Sauer to a bloody pulp, the teams the Canadiens face the next 5 games will know not to mess with your stars because it’s a long season and career. There will be retribution at a later date. Laraque put himself out of a job, in my eyes, by not standing up for his teammate there. His only job is to act as a deterrent, and it did nothing to deter Sauer. (FYI, I blame Carbonneau as much as I blame Laraque here)
If you’re going to have a heavyweight on your team, you better have some middleweight guys (the Strudwicks, Carcillos, etc.) to help stick up for the team when your heavyweight is unleashing unholy terror on the 6’4″ 220lb defenceman that took liberties with your star. Yes, you’ll lose your heavyweight to suspension if they instigate a fight in retaliation… but why else are they there for? If they’re letting teams get away with it because they’re scared of being suspended… who are they fooling? Is it really a deterrent at all? No.