Two things I hate about hockey. Fights. And whining Canadian-accented voices defending the need for vigilantes on ice to police the game. So, I should be thrilled this week. A hockey mugging that has every civilized sports fan - and even a few of that considerable group you could lump as civilization-deprived - disgusted and calling for reform.
I should be delighted the sport is having a 100-million-kilowatt spotlight shone on its savagery, with demands certain to come from governments to eliminate public brawls or have brawlers face stern prison terms. But all I can see is the remorse on Todd Bertuzzi's tearful face, the contrition in the choked-up voice, the obvious trauma he was undergoing. The half-million-dollar plus hit his pocketbook takes is nothing compared to the scars on his psyche, the disdain which will follow him forever as the goon who cowardly broke Steve Moore's neck
They say in addition to being an outstanding hockey player that Todd Bertuzzi is a quality human being. Better past-tense that. Was a quality human being. Among decent folks, he now becomes a pariah.
Better Bertuzzi should become a martyr. How much better for the National Hockey League to go to its windows, throw them wide open, and shout, "Enough! No more fighting. Ever. We will not let this brute mentality destroy the game any longer and destroy the lives of our players. We will not degrade our athletes and make them doomed gladiators."
Either that or ban Canadians from the game. It is that Canadian machismo which always has ruled the NHL. There's no fighting in European hockey. None in American collegiate hockey except what Canadians try to bring. None in the Olympics. Just Canada, where it's part of the call of the wild.
Canadians long ago sold the NHL on the belief it is their game, that they are the only ones who understand its purity and intensity, that they have devised the machinery under which it best is played and watched, and the machinery by which it is policed. Enforcement, intimidation, are keynotes. You want fancy footwork, watch figure skating.
And now those same neanderthals are going to reap the whirlwind. Like athletes who sell their lives for what glory a steroid needle can promise, the goons of sport are going to turn the mass public away in disgust. In this age in which everything is televised and there is no place to hide, every act of thuggery is going to be replayed and replayed and every Todd Bertuzzi will be branded forever.
I admit, I have become wussified. Moreso all the time. The guy who used to puff fat cigars in public now looks with disdain on anyone who lights up. The guy who used to think prize fighting was the manliest of sports long ago stopped watching that state-licensed mayhem and bloodbath. The idea that "fans" would phone to ask who won an auto race and then automatically ask, "Anyone get killed?," gets more revolting all the time. Beanball throwers and soccer riots and `'fans" who storm the floor and severely trample cheerleaders and others all make me nauseated.
It's more than being politically correct. It's putting all the irrational conduct that mars sporting gatherings into one ugly bag and demanding it be compacted and thrown away. It's letting hockey be a sport you shouldn't be afraid to let your kid play because there's some bully looking for an excuse to maim the youngster.
Hockey, Canadian variety, keeps insisting fist-throwing and similar mayhems are critical to keeping worse things from happening on the ice. That a physical sport must have players who can defend their mates from punishment.
Really? Is hockey more physical than football, where each snap of the ball is followed by titanic collisions, where each tackle is a pair of railroad trains meeting head-on? Yet there are no constant wink/wink-sanctioned brawls on football fields. Those warriors understand the officials will police everything they can and what goes unpunished is another challenge of a macho game.
The idea that hockey fans go to games hoping to see brawls and come away disappointed if fists don't fly demeans the sport and demeans any fandom thought to think that way. Save barbarianism for X-Box games.
I watched hockey regularly on TV until I found myself turning off the set when some prolonged fistic dance was taking place. At first, I'd return to watch after peace was restored. In time, I just never went back. The goonery chased me.
A musical ditty of my youth was titled, "South America, take it away."
If we can't have hockey without fighting, it's "Canada, take it away." Oh, and take your geese, too. NOTE:Harvey Yavener is The Times' staff columnist."
This guy should be shot. He should meet Guy so he learn how to write a real educated article. Stupid Stupid human being. How far did you guys get?
Agree or not, I actually thought he presented his argument fairly well. Sure he's insulting to an entire nation of hockey fans and presents only 1 side of the argument, but he did that well anyhow.
In football, they don't carry weapons around with them at all times... except helmets and I've seen those swung with ill intent before.
I don't know of anyone who goes to a game solely to see a fight but I also don't know anyone who leaves disgusted if one occurs.
The guy is right, there is no fighting in US College hockey but I fail to see how that makes the sport as popular stateside as college hoops or football. The Frozen four just ended and I didn't hear squat about that tournament while the March/April Madness b-ball tournament was going on.
Eliminating fighting won't bring hoardes of American fans to the game, in fact, it just might cause more North American fans (both American & Neaderthalic Canucks like me) to lose interest.