Monday, September 19, 2011

Punching Holes in The Goon Death Nonsense

1) Firstly before I begin this post I wanted to say that we are NOT taking the recent deaths of the three former NHL-ers frivolously. Far from it. However, unlike what seems to be a uniform response from the media, we are not going to link them together simply because they occurred within a short time, and involved players with a tendency to accumulate PIM's. OK so lets get down to some basic thoughts without a bias against fighting. As Mr. Webb said, "Just the facts Ma'am "! Despite the ease to lump all the deaths together to date there hasn't be a unifying theme in the 3 recent cases. One was a clear suicide (Belak), while the Boogard was an accidental overdose of legally prescribed medications. In the case of Rick Rypien police have yet to release an official Cause of death but ts not being called suspicious. Regardless, it appears despite the media's clamor, all 3 died differently.

2) If, as we have been told (over and over) from the anti fighting zealots, that these players died directly or indirectly from fighting then we have to ask why now??? I mean now when fighting is at its lowest since the NHL began would we suddenly see players die from it? Last season other than Konopka no player eclipsed the 300 PIM plateau and only 2 were even over 200! By contrast in 1992 8 players had over 300 PIM's and one, Mike Peluso had 400+! Even only 10 years ago 9 players had 200+ PIM's. Think about it, if it were the fighting that was the cause wouldn't we have seen a player drop dead every week during the early-mid 1970's when almost every player in the line up had as many fights as the top pugilists do today. Back then 300 PIMs wasn't unusual. Dave 'The Hammer' Schultz alone had 472 PIM's in 1975! To our knowledge Dave is alive and well, as are almost all his former team mates, most of whom accumulated 200+ PIM's and 15+ fighting majors/season. So is it the game or is it society that has changed leading to these deaths? You see, its easy/lazy to say lets eliminate/change one thing (fighting) and all will be well. If one is intellectually honest, you'll know that's not gonna happen

3) OK, so lets take the leaps of faith. Yes, the players all died directly and indirectly from having a few more fights than their peers, etc. What do we do now? Ending all fighting in the NHL will solve the problem? OK, can/will the minors also do the same? Fat chance! Its NO secret that especially in the minors, fighting sells, so owners of those franchises who get almost no TV money, and rely even more heavily on gate attendance than the NHL want/need fannys in the seats. Eliminate fighting and I'd say a 20% reduction in attendance might be a conservative estimate. So if fighting would likely continue in the minors the players who would be enforcers in the NHL will simply "ply their craft" in the AHL or ECHL. Make less money and probably fight 10 times more. If by some slim chance ALL fighting is eliminated in all hockey levels then what do these guys do for a living? The same psychological issues that they take to hockey now, will simply go to another profession. They will still have substance abuse/depression issues regardless if they dance on ice with their gloves off 15-20 times a year or not. Problem not solved just shifted and we can all sleep well at night knowing we've solved a major problem right?

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