THN Published This?
Please allow me to preface this rant with the following; I am not a professional hockey writer like the gentleman I am about to criticize. I don't get paid for expressing my thoughts and/or opinions on the great game. As such, I tend to expect a certain level of rationality from the professional writers even if I may not necessarily agree with their position.
I recently read a blog on THN by Ryan Kennedy in which he attempted to explain why a "player" might attempt to engage an "opponent" in a fight after said "opponent" lays a clean hit on "player's" teammate. Here's the more interesting quotes from this piece.
-"The concept of fighting after clean hits – particularly big ones – has become an aggravation for some pundits in the past year or so. And while players will undoubtedly chalk the practice up to protecting teammates, reppin’ their team colors and so on, I think there might actually be a solid strategy to this phenomenon.
Think about it: If players knows they’ll have to answer the bell when they hit Kane, some of them might pull back to a stick-check instead of laying the body. That gives the elusive Kane more room to operate and more time to make goalies look silly.
If that leads to more Chicago wins, it’s better for the Blackhawks. And in a season when the Hawks are life-and-death to make the playoffs, every game from here on out does indeed matter."-
While I appreciate Ryan's right to an opinion and even agree with it, I have to ask, is this even an original thought? Isn't that why the Oilers valued Dave Semenko so highly? Wasn't Marty McSorley known as Wayne Gretzky's personal protector? I always thought their ability to beat up opponents was useful as a deterrent to opposing players and to prevent them from running the star player's like Gretzky.
Hockey isn't like boxing. There is no reason for prearranged bouts between "heavyweights" to headline that evening's event. That may seem to be how the practice evolved in the 1990's but that wasn't the original purpose. "Staged" fights were and are completely unnecessary.
Why else would Glen Sather have gone out of his way to lavish multi year contracts on Donald Brashear and Derek Boogaard in consecutive summers? He pretty much said those players primary roles would be to create open ice for the Rangers forwards like Marian Gaborik. Gaborik himself was excited to add his former Minnesota Wild teammate, Boogaard, for that same reason. As misguided as those signings may appear in today's NHL, the intent was clear; to give the opposition 2nd thoughts about taking shots at Rangers offensive players.
On a personal level I don't think any less of Kennedy for writing this. I just think his premise is not a new one and wonder why he wrote it in the first place.