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Phoenix Coyotes

Phoenix Coyotes: Why A Pacifist Loves 5 For Fighting

Phoenix CoyotesI know this sounds very confusing but Saturday night’s brawlfest between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Anaheim Ducks got me thinking. I am, by nature, a pacifist. A believer in non-violent conflict resolution, make love not war, peace, love and happiness…but something changed the day I became a hockey fan. When two players drop the gloves and start trading punches, pulling at each other’s jerseys with hair and blood flying I get a little out of control.

I don’t watch boxing, wrestling, cage fighting or whatever MMA is, so this is doesn’t make sense to people who know me. After these years of following hockey though, I think I have finally figured it out. Spontaneity. These guys are not officially paid to fight each other and it isn’t the main reason you go to a hockey game, although some would argue with me on that one. All of those other “combat” sports are just that, guys paid to beat up on each other. It’s just a job to them.

I’ve read “The Code” and I do know that hockey fights aren’t always as spontaneous as what they seem on the ice. They can sometimes be a catalyst for getting a team revved up or pyschological warfare against the opponents to gain a certain advantage. I get that. However, the fights almost always seem “in the heat of passion” and some are acts of retribution which in itself is passionate and spontaneous.

Take Saturday night’s game for example. Already a heated rivalry, things were tense at the get go. However, when James Wisniewski made a bad hit on Shane Doan (our captain, nonetheless) things got meaningful. The resulting fights between Keith Yandle and James Wisniewski and Doan and Wisniewski (he got it twice that night) were purely revengeful. Clearly Yandle took exception to Doan getting his bell rung (and he did, judging by the way he stumbled skated back to the bench) and then of course Doan had to save face at the beginning of the 2nd period.

You might ask what the difference is then between a hockey fight and a bar brawl? Both are spontaneous, both are passionate and neither parties involved are being paid to just fight. The difference? Controlled circumstances and a relative evenness of playing field. The boys on the ice know what it is involved, are trained athletes and have refs standing by to keep things from getting too far.

Or this is how I’ve explained it to my daughter anyway, who, at one point, couldn’t understand why her mild mannered, sweet, peace loving mother started raging like a mad woman when two players got it going..

Everyone has a dark side, don’t they?

Let’s Puck!

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5 comments for “Phoenix Coyotes: Why A Pacifist Loves 5 For Fighting”

  1. Puckgal, I am with you on this one. Before getting into hockey, I would always hear of fights and think how barbaric and ridiculous they were. That is until a hardcore hockey fan spelled it out for me.

    These fights occur because it is such a physical game and players need to know that if they are going to try to take out one of the other teams key players they will have someone after them.

    As you mentioned, many times fights are staged or just simply expected, but I see a different side to hockey fights. It has a lot to do about respect and momentum. I just can’t help but reflect on Game 6 of the first round of the playoffs last year, where the Pens were down 3-0 to Philadelphia in Philly. Maxime Talbot took on Dan Carcillo and for the most part got his ass handed to him. However, it stirred the Pens up enough to have them score 5 unanswered goals and win the game and the series.

    Posted by pittpenNo Gravatar | November 1, 2009, 7:16 pm
  2. Absolutely! Your use of the word “momentum” was right on. I have seen many a game (incidentally some with the above mentioned Carcillo) where a good fight was just what the doctor ordered. On the flip side I have seen good games ruined due to the excessive penalties. Last night’s game was on the brink of just that.

    Posted by PuckGalNo Gravatar | November 1, 2009, 7:24 pm
  3. I remember a few years ago, it was the last game of the season against Dallas. The game meant nothing to either team and we weren’t scheduled to meet in the playoffs. My nephew and I were in Tahoe snowboarding and we settled in for what we thought would be a boring game. That game had 122 penalty minutes - Jody Shelly had 41 by himself! I guess, since it might have been the last meeting between those two teams, it was the opportunity to “cash in” on a season’s worth of owed paybacks. I do explain to my nephew that “fights inside the glass good, fights outside the glass bad”.

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | November 2, 2009, 10:04 am
  4. I think another thing that makes hockey fights more entertaining is that there’s usually a certain amount of control. We see a lot of people get bloodied up but we don’t see people miss a whole season because of injuries (often). The other thing is that hockey players value fairness and a “even score”. If two players are fighting for no reason, then they’ll wait until the other person is ready before they fight. However, if the fight is retaliation for an earlier cheap shot, they’ll catch the player off guard just like he caught their teammate off guard. The game does a great job of policing itself.

    Posted by EricNo Gravatar | November 2, 2009, 12:59 pm
  5. Ok Sharksfan 122 penalty minutes?? That is insane LOL And what a great way to simplify the good and bad fighting. And Eric, the game does do a good job of policing itself and the players do watch each other’s backs. Incidentally, Wisniewski got a 2 game suspension for his hit to Doan..

    Posted by PuckGalNo Gravatar | November 2, 2009, 7:02 pm

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