Thursday, October 17, 2013
Thursday Morning Cupcheck - Should the NHL Outlaw Fighting?
To-day, we settle this debate once and for all.
Good morning, hockey fans! Last week we basked in the wonder and discovery of Dallas' Sergei Gonchar. This week, rather than beat a dead horse, we're going to temporarily stop dissing on The Five Million Dollar Mistake and instead focus on the debate that's raging in the NHL right now: abortion: best thing ever, or worst atrocity ever committed by the hand of Man?
We're kidding, of course. No one cares about that, and you've already read the title to this column. We are, of course, discussing fighting in the NHL.
Thanks to some unfortunate accidents in the first week that hadn't happened before and haven't since, the anti-fighting crowd has felt emboldened enough to finally risk their necks and spout off their opinions: fighting is barbaric, it doesn't affect the game in any meaningful way, it leads to brain damage, concussions and, inevitably, class action lawsuits.
All of these are valid concerns, but the other side of the argument seems to be getting lost in all the righteous spittle and indignation. So we at the Cupcheck have invited two experts on the subject to get some closure on this difficult topic.
For the anti-fighting crowd, we have Bryan Blambert of the highly influential Behind the Neckbeard: A Much-Needed and Frequently Updated Insider's Look at Hockey Blogging. For the pro-fighting crowd we have Krys 'Metal as F**k' Barch, longtime NHL enforcer and bench-polisher.
Me: "Gentlemen, this will be a short and sweet debate, because we work for an online-only publication and both of our readers have the attention spans of hummingbirds on bathsalts. Mr. Blambert, you may begin."
Bryan Blambert: "Listen up, sheeple!! As a highly influential hockey blogger with tremendous amounts of influence, I have come to some startling realizations. Namely, that fighting is going to be outlawed whether you like it or not, so you mouthbreathing lowest common denominators better start learning to accept that inevitable fact now rather than--" (Barch whistles innocently while casually flicking Lambert's ear) "--Hey!! Stop that!!"
Barch: "What? I wasn't doing anything."
Blambert: "That thing with my--oww! Knock it off!"
(Barch stops momentarily, stuffs his hand down the back of his pants and starts vigorously scratching his rear end.)
Blambert: "Ugh! How typical. Anyway, were was I? Ah, yes. Outlawing fighting. It's going to happen, sheeple, and if you can't see the inevitable ban over your popped collars and shotgun rackowwww! Stop it! Uggh!"
(Barch has resumed the ear-flicking with his stank finger. The odor is surprisingly overpowering, even from ten feet away.)
Barch: (rolls eyes) "Oh, what now?"
Blambert: "This is a hockey discussion, a***hole! You're supposed to treat me like a human being! Cut it out!"
Barch: (makes doe-eyed look of virginal innocence, holds his hands up in surrender and shrugs) "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about. Please, do continue." (raises his hands and eyes to Heaven, then gives Blambert a swift kick in the shin)
Blambert: "Oww!! Not fair!! Teacher! TEACHER!!!"
Me: "Uh, no teachers here. Just, you know, adults."
Blambert: "Then tell HIM to start ACTING like one!! God D**M it!!"
Me: (wipes espresso-colored spittle off shirt) "Krys?"
Barch: (sniffs own finger, winces) "Ho ho ho, that's rank. Want to share a sniff?"
Blambert: "What are you, a child? JEEZ."
Barch: (assumes thoughtful posture) "Who's the one acting like a child here?"
Blambert: (bounces up and down in his chair, pointing at Barch) "Youyouyouyou!!"
Me: "Please sit down, Mr. Blambert."
Blambert: "YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!! I BLOG ABOUT HOCKEY!! I AM IMPORTANT!!"
(Barch stands up and squares up to Blambert, who quietly falls back into his chair)
Me: "Thanks Krys."
Barch: (sits back down, grinning maniacally at Blambert) "No problem Todd. Please continue."
Me: "Any more opening statements, Mr. Blambert?"
Me: "Okaaay... Barch, your opening arguments?"
Barch: "Thanks. We all know about the serious issues of concussions in hockey. No one denies this. But trying to eliminate concussions by eliminating fighting is a losing proposition. We already have a league with no fighting and no checking: NCAA women's hockey. So no physical contact means no concussions, right? Nope: they've got double the rate of concussions as men's hockey. The facts are, the vast majority of concussions are caused by unexpected physical contact: specifically, checks from behind and contact with the head while skating. The impact of my fist as I'm balancing precariously on skates while trying to hold on to your jersey with one hand while we spin around in a circle is simply nothing compared to the sheer physical force of a 220-pound object flying into you at 20 mph when you're not prepared for it. That's why the guys with severe concussion problems, like Crosby and Bergeron and Savard, are never fighters. They're puck carriers, i.e. targets. A fighter's job is to protect these playmakers from cheap shot artists, although that's become very difficult since the introduction of the instigator, which has primarily resulted in a rise of illegal hits to the head rather than a reduction in on-ice violence. While suspensions have been handed out for some of these incidents, they basically seem to be little more than unpaid vacations for the league's worst offenders, and are inconsistently enforced."
Blambert: (removes fingers from his ears) "FINALLY. What took you so long, were you quoting the pop-up version of the Old Testament's 'eye for an eye' passage while waxing eloquently about mullets, light beer and how hard you can wave your flags on July 4th? Fighting is BARBARIC, A***OLE! A relic of BYGONE TIMES! If you can't see something that OBVIOUS to ME, then maybe you should go back to your cousin's van detailing shop in Yellowknife and leave--"(Barch pulls down his pants, places his derriere in Blambert's face and lets one rip) "-- UUUGGHH!! Teacher!! TEACHER!!"
Me: (sighs) "What now?"
Blambert: "'What now'?!? Are you KIDDING me?! This cro-magnon just SHARTED in my FACE!!"
Me: "Welllll... why don't you do something about it?"
Blambert: (points at Barch with a visibly shaking hand) "Y-you... better... s-stop it, or e-else..."
Barch: "Oh, I'm sorry. I saw a pasty-white opening full of s**t and thought it was a commode. My apologies." (pulls pants back up, sits down as if nothing happened)
Blambert: "That's IT!! I've HAD it with this! If you two don't AGREE with ME --a VERY IMPORTANT BLOGGER-- then you are both WRONG!!"
Me: "That's hardly a productive line of discuss--"
Blambert: "SHUT your stupid shut up face!! I will not stand here and be INSULTED by a pair of GAP-TOOTHED RHEEZUS MONKEYS whose MOTHERS thought PRE-NATES meant SHOTS OF EVERCLEAR! Have fun spanking it to LADY LIBERTY while listening to your ALAN JACKSON MIX-TAPES, you JAR-HEADED F***S!!"
(leaves, huffing. Also, crying a little.)
Me: "Well, that maybe could have gone better."
Barch: "Those who fail to understand the baser aspects of human nature inevitably become its slaves."
Me: "So, uh, you ever really jerked it to the Statue of Liberty?"
Barch: "Oh yeah, dozens of times."
That's it for this week's Cupcheck. Tune in next week when we examine the Maple Leaf's 9-1-0 record, marked by a -22 average shot differential and 22 grisly advanced stats nerds suicides.