Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Fight Club

...on ice, is being shutdown.

I'll let John tell you about his thoughts on the matter...

The Vanishing Breed
By John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting for

I named my band after a hockey fight. Of course, that was more than 10 years ago -- the Golden Age.

You remember the names ... or at least the nicknames: Rob Ray, Shane Churla, The Twister, The Grim Reaper.

Every team had one, and on their respective slabs of ice these men were kings. They were more adored and despised than any Great One, Super Mario or Dominator perched between the pipes.

My defining moment came hours after a Marty McSorley vs. Bob Probert classic...

...when a record-company president asked me to forsake my birth name for a band name. (Singer/songwriters were the kiss of death, he poked.)

So came Five for Fighting. But that was then. Where has the goon gone? [...]

Truth is, more than 260 NHL players got into at least one fight in 2005-06. But fighting is fading out of hockey, fading fast. Is this a good thing? Is it long overdue? It depends who you ask.

This guy with the halo sitting on my right shoulder thinks so. He has to deal with his five-year-old son on game night.

"Daddy, why are those players hitting each other?"

"Uhh, they're just playing, Johnny. It's not real."

"I thought fighting was bad."

"It is, son. But this is different."

"Why, Dad?"

"Uhh. Come on, I'll buy you another puck."

But the guy with the pointed tail perched on my broken left collarbone is steamed. He's the imp who gets caught up in the buzz when the coach sends his rough boy out to dance. He lives for, and through, a gladiator with an honor code who erases the pain of a bad game, allows a temporary respite from another losing season, or rips us away, if only for a minute, from the inevitable screws of life.

And while we're at it, for some, that goon thing was a bum rap. Many of these heavies could play. Most were among the most articulate individuals the league had to offer. They were labor reps turned commentators, tireless leaders in charity and team outreach, and always, for what it's worth, the recipient of the most popular player award.
Well John, you can tell your little boy that the guy with the halo on your right shoulder has won and at least as far as the NHL is concerned the days of the hockey enforcer are going, going... almost gone.

But not forgotten.

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