Bird's Eye View - You call that a fight?
Ted Bird, ctvmontreal.ca
Published Monday, March 8, 2010 11:42AM EST
I think I figured out why so many of us enjoy a good hockey fight. It's because we have to sit through so many BAD fights before we finally get to a good one. And they don't come much worse than the Ryan O'Byrne-Rich Clune tilt in the Canadiens game in Los Angeles Saturday night. Get a load of these apples:
What's with the knock-knock punches to the back of the head? I wouldn't want O'Byrne to be responsible for burping my baby, because if that's all he can bring, the poor kid would be perpetually gassy.
That's not to say there aren't good hockey fights. But they're few and far between compared to the hockey fight heyday of the 1970s. Part of the problem is that today's players are so burdened with equipment that they aren't much more agile than two heavily-armored medieval knights who get off their horses, throw down their weapons and get into a fistfight. Come to think of it, maybe that's part of the solution towards making fights more consistently entertaining. Let one player on the ice from each team carry a sword, mace, or battle axe instead of a stick. Just thinking out loud here.
Happily for the brutality-starved masses, there are hockey fight websites dedicated exclusively to separating the pugilistic wheat from the chaff. Fans of a good dust-up don't have to endure a seemingly endless series of de facto Greco-Roman wrestling matches on ice. Modern technology allows us to skip the undercard drudgery and proceed straight to the time-honored hockey spectacle of a couple of flat-faced warriors going toe-to-toe and giving as good as they get.
No disrespect to O'Byrne and Clune. Their mutual malice was undoubtedly sincere, but trying to apply the Marquis of Queensbury rules on skates is a dodgy venture at the best of times, because there's as much or more effort expended on not losing your balance and falling over as there is on inflicting punishment on one's opponent. It's a little bit like trying to juggle meat cleavers in the dark or playing tennis during a hurricane.
Still, John Ferguson must be spinning in his grave.