In yesterday’s Rangers/Penguins contest, Arron Asham and Tanner Glass dropped the mitts two seconds after puck drop and conducted what our own Chris Lund deemed a “lame, scripted fight.” There are plenty of people in Lund’s corner on this, and unsurprisingly, the side that’s pro-fighting wasn’t the most eloquent in response in the comment section.

Still, “scripted” aside, it was an incredible tilt between two middleweights who are tough as nails. Fight connoisseurs will love this.

Also…I like that this fight happened. I know, I know, I’m sorry.

I like it because both Glass and Asham get some minutes (as in, they aren’t John Scott-style fighters), and you know these are two rival teams that are going to be competitive all year. I like someone trying to set the tone for their team because the plan isn’t to have an even fight and be done with it. The point is that if Asham asks Glass to go and he won’t, the Rangers already get to be the bullies. It’s sort of the punk test all over again. And in the best case scenario, your guy drops their guy and your whole bench is teeming with adrenaline. It probably didn’t help either team in this instance, being that Glass accepted and it wasn’t a decisive victory for either man, but whatever – “fuck their guys, let’s get after them.” I like it. (Check out today’s podcast to hear me explain this a little more in-depth.)

Of course, there are times where it’s worth an eye-roll.

Here’s the start of the Islanders/Lightning game taking place this afternoon:

Obviously, I’m less enthralled by Matt Martin/BJ Crombeen, Joe Finley/Pierre-Cedric Labrie (that’s a real player), mostly because it’s Lightning/Islanders, and Labrie and Finley have combined for 20 career games, but I dunno, I just can’t bring myself to the level of “this is pointless, this has nothing to do with the game.” To the guys on the bench, and the guys in the fight, there’s more to it than a rote exercise in face-punchery.

This is minimally useful players (not to lump Crombeen and Martin in) trying to find a way to be useful, to get the boys going, and to show that your team isn’t gonna be afraid to get dirty today. Both guys saying yes is better than one saying no, and you don’t wanna be the guy returning to the bench or dressing room after declining a center ice invite at the start of the game. I know it sounds like foolish dudery, but hey, certain sports are just like that at this point.

It’s not the safest thing in the world, and a draw may not change much, but for me, I still feel like the guys on the bench in the .GIF above. When the puck drops and I see a couple guys about to get after it, it still makes me want to stand up.

Comments (10)

  1. The guys on the bench were the first thing I noticed in that gif.

    I’ve never liked hockey fights, but yours is a better defense of them than just meatheadedness, which I can appreciate.

  2. P-C “Nacho” Labrie is awesome. He may not have played a lot in the NHL, but Lightning fans know him and love him (from Norfolk/Syracuse). I can assure you it got a lot of Bolts fans going to see it.

  3. I’m biased in that I would like to see fighting reduced through increased penalties, allowing real hockey fans to focus on what makes the sport great. A game misconduct would put an end to most stupid bouts, including face-off brawls and fighting after a clean hit. If a player really feels a fight is important then they know the consequences. I think you would see a lot less enforcers and more power forwards who are hockey players.

    The risk of injury makes this stuff stupid. Making room for playes who have to justify their paychecks by dropping the gloves is stupid. Leaving real hockey players in the minors to make room for big guys with scarred knuckles is stupid. Yes the bench stands up and bangs their sticks on the boards and the fans also get excited. But you could have strippers wrestling at centre ice and get the same result. Is that “part of the game”.

    Regarding momentum, you might want to read the research done by PowerScout Hockey on the impact of fighting on momentum – http://powerscouthockey.com/node/512. Yes there is a short term lift in momentum, based on shots on net, when a fight breaks out. But there is no guarantee which side will beneift and it’s short lived. Over the course of a game or season it also evens out so that it’s a 50-50 chance your team will see any benefit and as a strategy it’s pretty useless. IF your team got the benefit of the momentum, and IF it happened in the right moment then it would take 60 fights to perhaps provide your team with a single win. As usual the support of fighting is based on myth and perception, and a culture of fighting that begins in junior hockey.

    • If you’re going to tell others they need to do research, you can’t say something like this “The risk of injury makes this stuff stupid,” considering the risk of injury on a game-by-game basis from fighting is lower than the risk of injury from playing.

      • Yes, fighting results in less injuries than playing the game. But if you do some research then you will find that the NHL reported at the end of last season that 6% of concussions are caused by fighting. Fights represent approx 1% of total hits in a hockey game, when you total up all hockey hits. So you are more than 5 times more likely to suffer a concussion from a fight than from a hockey hit. So I’ll stick by my comment.

    • Not everything can be quantified by “research” and statistics. Did Powerscouthockey monitor player adrenaline levels during or after these fights, the level of enthusiasm or attitudes of the players on either bench post-fight, or the general tempo changes in the games?

      Whether you like it or not, fighting has been a part of the game since the beginning, and it always will be. If you want to watch a sport that has had all the toughness legislated out of it for the purpose of attracting the female/casual audience, then the NFL can be found much more easily on the dial.

      And if all these guys are just goons who must “drop the gloves to justify a paycheck”, then what do you care if they get injured? In your eyes they’re non-contributers anyway. The Bob Proberts and Tony Twists are gone from the league. In their place are tough guys who can contribute to the game with their hockey skills.

      I’m not even pro-fighting……just anti-people thinking a sport with a tradition, history, and culture well over a century in the making should change all of the sudden to placate the delicate sensibilities of the modern soft PC culture.

      • Kind of undermine your point when you lump Probert (PBUH) with the Twister. He did score over 150 NHL goals. But let’s leave that aside for a moment and focus on the “he’s a non-contributor anyway” nonsense. Why should a guy risk his long-term health and daily safety if he’s otherwise unqualified to be out there on a skill level? That suggests that he’s expendable, just because he’s not an NHL-quality hockey player.

        For the record, I’m not anti-fighting per se, but I’m anti-pointlessness. There are times when the players need to police themselves; I think that the threat of being pummeled by someone is a deterrent to people dealing out cheap shots to the unsuspecting, which have more of a potential to cripple a player. But the fewer “by appointment” matches and habitual fighters there are, the better. It’s the repeated punch-ups that result in all this cumulative damage that’s been costing hockey players their lives. Derek Boogaard may have been a marginal NHLer, but he was a human being. I look back and wish that he’d made the NHL for just one game, so his dream would have come true, and then left to be a lawyer or something.

  4. ” I just can’t bring myself to the level of “this is pointless, this has nothing to do with the game.” To the guys on the bench, and the guys in the fight, there’s more to it than a rote exercise in face-punchery…This is minimally useful players (not to lump Crombeen and Martin in) trying to find a way to be useful, to get the boys going, and to show that your team isn’t gonna be afraid to get dirty today.”

    Here’s my problem with this line of commentary – it assumes that if the fight doesnt happen, that other stuff wouldn’t occur. That the boys would not get “going”…that the team would not think it a day to get “dirty”. There are any number of ways a teammate can send these messages *and* do so in a way that actually contributes to the ultimate outcome of winning the game. Blocking a shot, throwing a clean hit, putting in extra effort on a backcheck.

    Fighting is the “Cheap Pop” of hockey. Its the high fructose corn syrup of hockey. Its cheap, easy to fall back on and to expect a nice, quick burst of satisfaction. But does it truly contribute to the final product? Does it do more harm than good long-term?

  5. I am a big fan of hockey fights, and never got the hate with “staged fights’. The way I argue it is that I much rather see a fight right after a draw, than a fight after a clean hate..

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