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I went to a fight, and...

By Nicole Weissman

I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out. What a dumb joke. But then this Saturday, late in the Caps’ match-up against the New Jersey Devils, it really happened.

After Jason Chimera’s fight with David Clarkson early in the 3rd period, I explained hockey fights to my friend Matt. I assured him that fighting in this sport is not as gratuitous as people think it is. At that point I should have knocked on wood to make sure nothing would happen for the remainder of the game to make me look like a total idiot.

With less than five minutes left, Ilya Kovalchuk picked a fight with Mike Green. I was excited to see these two guys getting into it – not guys you see fight every day. That was the beginning of the end. Moments later, Matt Hendricks took on Rod Pelley. Two seconds after that, Matt Bradley and David Clarkson. The fights were replayed on the Jumbotron, and the crowd went wild.

Then finally, a clean faceoff. But no! Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (whose name I filed away for a future post on ridiculous hockey names) jumped poor Marcus Johansson, who moments before had verbally refused to fight Letourneau. The resulting mess included one fighting major, one roughing minor, two game misconducts, a slashing minor, an instigator penalty, and a solid promise that Mr. Letourneau will be getting his butt kicked by someone when the Caps meet the Devils again on November 22.  

It was pretty entertaining stuff, to be sure, but it inspired me to say a few words about fighting in this sport. I often find myself having to justify this practice to friends of mine who feel that hockey fighting is downright barbaric, a shameless ploy for attention in a sport that sometimes struggles to remain popular.

In fact, fighting in hockey is a way of blowing off steam, and making a statement on behalf of your teammates. Emotions build, and fighting allows both teams to put some of those feelings aside and move on with the game. Sometimes it’s the opposite. When teams are looking slow or indifferent, players will fight to inject some enthusiasm and raise the stakes a little bit.

Based on my interest in players as role models, folks sometimes ask me if this behavior sets a bad example because it promotes poor sportsmanship. I don’t think that it does. More often than not, fights are mutually agreed upon before they begin. Most enforcers aren’t thugs, they’re protectors for their teammates, and they’re some of the nicest guys around. I also think that the NHL does a good job of penalizing unsportsmanlike treatment of fighting, and Pierre Letourneau’s one game suspension is a good example of that.

I have fan pictures and quotes from the home opener coming later this week, but this shot is of the very empty Devils bench at the end of the game.

By Box Seats blogger  | October 11, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  | Tags:  Caps-Devils  
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Next: Out on the weekend

Comments

If some one can't get over the fact that there's fighting in hockey then I don't want them to be a fan of hockey. They've watered down the game enough so that overbearing mothers can bring their kids to games without getting offended. I'd rather not encourage the continued pansification of the league. The fights fromt he devils game were pretty much a perfect example of what fighting in hockey should be.

Posted by: GFisher1 | October 12, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I am so sick of all the non playing public saying this and that about sports not just hockey. No one has any right to say whats right or wrong about it until they have put the same shoes on, so to speak. So if you have never played hockey, like most of these Band Wagon Fans, who think its cool to follow the Caps because they win and win alot as opposed to the Deadskins who until this year couldn't string a few winning games togther for year, just get you popcorn and a soda and cheer.
You don't have the right to pass any kind of judgement on hockey as a whole and no the Caps either.
And incase you don't know Saturday night was not the first fight nor will it be the last fight on the ice in the phone booth.

Shout out to SECTION 115 !!!!!!!!

Drop the puck !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: bqts | October 14, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Haha thanks for your comment, but take a second to read the whole post, ok? Thanks!

Posted by: nicko | October 15, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

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