January 07, 2009

I fight because it's my job, not because I like it.: Georges Laraque writes his final blog of TSN.ca on hickey fighting. It's a fantastic read with some interesting insight on the world of hockey fights.

posted by Punkrockrat to hockey at 10:21 PM - 21 comments

Darn - i meant HOCKEY fighting. Admins, help me out?

posted by Punkrockrat at 10:23 PM on January 07, 2009

LOL! Hickey fighting...I haven't had a laugh like that in a long time.


posted by skifan at 11:18 PM on January 07, 2009

Did alot of hickey fighting in my youth, always tried to keep the stick up and the helmet on...

posted by bobfoot at 11:47 PM on January 07, 2009

"I fight because it's my job, not because I like it."

Then your job is retarded.

posted by Drood at 01:10 AM on January 08, 2009

Georges, you should have titled this blog "I Fight Because It's the Only Way I Can Earn a Half Decent Paycheck in the NHL". I don't know what skill set you have outside of hockey, but if you dislike fighting so much, then find something else to do for a living. If you were not fighting, then you certainly would not be in the NHL.

All of you SpoFites who have looked at the Sanderson post should know my views on hockey fights by now. I think that part of the problem is the use of players like Georges Laraque, who are only marginally skilled in anything other than fighting. (In Laraque's defense, I've never heard of him being a cheap shot artist. His play, while intended for only one thing, is clean.) If there were some way of requiring all players on a roster to actually be able to play the game well, perhaps some of the unnecessary fights would be eliminated. When I first started following the game, star players like Gordie Howe stood up for themselves. They did not require a "bodyguard". Could we ever get back to those days?

posted by Howard_T at 10:41 AM on January 08, 2009

Then your job is retarded.

And so is Shane Moseley's, Randy Couture's, Ricky Hatton's, Brock Lesnar's, Vladimir Klischko's, and Quinton Jackson's? Anyone who fights for a living is doing a "retarded" job? Or is it just a hockey thing you have an issue with?

posted by tahoemoj at 12:38 PM on January 08, 2009

Thanks rockrat for posting this. I think it really helps validate what I have been saying about hockey fighting in previous threads. Georges, like many NHL tough guys, seems like a pretty nice guy off of the ice. And I'm fairly certain that he is not the only North American who isn't positively enamored with what he does for a living. He is good enough at something to get paid fairly handsomely to do it, and I feel the game ultimately benefits from what he does.

If you were not fighting, then you certainly would not be in the NHL.

If Evgeni Nabokov couldn't stop a puck, niether would he. If Lorenzo Neal didn't deliver skull-splitting blocks he wouldn't be in the NFL. And if my accountant wasn't good with numbers, he wouldn't be in his firm. He is lucky to be good at something that pays as well as it does. Enforcer is as valid a job as any other in the NHL, from star center to towel boy. And he does it well, complete with humanity.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:10 PM on January 08, 2009

Not an NHL fighter, but an NHL game.

posted by geekyguy at 04:09 PM on January 08, 2009

Even if that video invalidates my argument to a certain extent....BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ! Hit him with your purse next time!

posted by tahoemoj at 04:31 PM on January 08, 2009

I guess if it were always the enforcer fighting the other team's enforcer, or at least an enforcer fighting someone that clearly took a cheap shot, then I'd agree with fighting having a place. That's not the case, so I'm not for it.

The game can be played without goons that can barely skate.

Not sure I understand the Lorenzo Neal slant. Has he been fighting too? He plays a position well, and what he does is part of the game. There is no penalty for blocking someone. What Laraque does results in a penalty. Now if Neal's job was to go out and fight any player that made a extra hard hit on one of his teammates, then I'd understand the link.

posted by dviking at 05:37 PM on January 08, 2009

The Lorenzo Neal reference was made to illustrate that there are roles in every game/job that need to be filled. For every Alexei Kovalev, there is a Georges Laraque. For every Ladanian Tomlinson, there is a Lorenzo Neal. I guess my point was that to say that George wouldn't be in the NHL without fighting is a statement of the obvious. If Neal wasn't an excellent blocker, he wouldn't be in the NFL. The angle of penalties doesn't invalidate my point. Just because something incurs a penalty doesn't mean that it isn't part of the game.

posted by tahoemoj at 06:23 PM on January 08, 2009

Fighting, like it or hate it, is part of high-level North American hockey. It serves many purposes...it lets the players dictate what liberties will or will not be tolerated when the officials look the other way, it can wake up a lazy bench and swing the momentum, and it excites the fans. You can think we, as a society, should be beyond such barbarism, but we're really not. Sports of today are little better than the coliseums of Rome - we pick a side, root for our side to "kill" the other, and we scream for blood. Sure, it's all metaphorical, but I defy you to find a hockey fan that doesn't smile just a little when a guy gets beaten and bloodied after a dirty hit on a skill player.

Injuries happen, sure...and Sanderson's death was a tragedy, I'll never deny that. But if you eliminate fighting, that opens the door to harder and dirtier hits, which will cause way more injuries. Obviously, the league's punishment of dirty hits isn't a deterrent, because it still happens. But if you know that if you take a run at Saku Koivu, that Georges Laraque will be taking note of your number, you just might think twice.

Now, if you, as a fan, don't like the fighting, please, go elsewhere with your viewing habits and entertainment dollars. Don't ruin it for the rest of us.

What the hell is it with me lately and the page-long diatribes? Must be the economy... =D

posted by MeatSaber at 09:07 PM on January 08, 2009

The angle with penalties does change the point. In football (at every level) facemasking is illegal. Do it and you are charged with a penalty. In hockey, fighting also gets you a penalty.

The difference is, no NFL team has a brute on the bench who's job it is to go out an purposely facemask a player that put a hard hit on a player. NFL players will call out dirty players, and they seem to be able to deal with it. And, to send the goon out to go start a fight with the intent of swinging momentum, or to send a message may work, however, that doesn't make it right. Throwing a bean ball at a hitter's head sends a message in baseball, doesn't make it right, and players do get hurt/killed as a result.

As I said in the other thread, I don't expect the NHL to take action as so many fans seem to enjoy it. It's just not the hockey I grew up playing. So, meatsaber you don't have to worry, I won't ruin it for you. I still have the NCAA!

posted by dviking at 01:47 AM on January 09, 2009

Hockey is a rough sport, and one where emotions run very high. I played it for years so I know what I'm talking about. Fights in tense situations will always happen, and no rule short of long suspensions for first offences will take it from the game. The idea of a planned, tactical fight where a coach purposely sends a goon out to instigate one has no place in hockey, however. The sport will be better when the whole concept is gone forever from our game. Cheap shots exist in all sports, and yet they all have developed ways of dealing with them without resorting to the goon payback system hockey has. If fact, in practice, most goon-instigated fights are payback for perfectly clean hits against "star" players, as if there's an unwritten rule that body checks aren't allowed against the stars. Well Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard never needed enforcers to protect their backs, so what does that say about the pansy-ass stars of today that they all need bodyguards just to step out on the ice?

posted by rocket88 at 12:13 PM on January 09, 2009

If fact, in practice, most goon-instigated fights are payback for perfectly clean hits against "star" players, as if there's an unwritten rule that body checks aren't allowed against the stars.

That's not even close to the truth. Top notch players take clean hits every day without any reprisal. It's cheap shots that warrant notice. You might have played some hockey in your youth, but it's fairly clear that you don't watch today's game, at least not closely. You'll see guys like Ovechkin and Datsyuk go into the corners like anyone else, and Crosby and Malkin both can play a physical game.

As far as calling these guys pansy-ass, wow! They play arguably the toughest game on earth at a professional level. The reason you won't see most stars fight is not that they cannot, it's that they are paid to be on the ice scoring goals and preventing others from scoring them. If you think their restraint is from fear, you really don't know what you're talking about. I don't imagine your years of play involved anything on the junior or professional level, did they?

posted by tahoemoj at 12:34 PM on January 09, 2009

Hmmm...There a a lot of valid opinions in here so far. Let me take them one at a time.

Tahoemoj, the job that Lorenzo Neal, or any offensive lineman in the NFL, does is one that is incorporated into the flow of the game. The blocks are intended to stop defenders from reaching the ball carrier, quarterback, or receiver, and to allow the offensive player to make a play. If the blocks are executed with extra vigor, then the defender is less likely to be able to make a play. Thus, Lorenzo Neal's play could be considered analogous to that of a forechecker in hockey, who makes contact in order to allow his offensive players to make a play. Note that if the football player or the hockey player doess anything against the rules, he will be penalized.

MeatSaber, I agree that fighting is an integral part of North American professional hockey, but my contention is that the use of enforcers should not be allowed. As rocket 88 points out, the enforcer usually is called upon after one of his teammates is hit hard but legally in the course of play. The enforcer has no other role on the ice. The players are expected to skate, check, pass, and shoot in order to score or prevent goals. If a player is not skilled enough to take a regular shift as a forward or defenseman, then he does not belong on the ice as a so-called enforcer.

Also, MeatSaber, I seem to have the same problem with page-long screeds. In my case, I retired from my job a couple of months ago, and now I'm starting to get bored. Maybe I should go back to work and give my fellow SpoFites a break.

posted by Howard_T at 12:35 PM on January 09, 2009

OK, the whole Neal thing. I guess I just didn't make my point clear. It was only that not everybody can be a glamor boy in the world of pro sports. I could easily have used a lineman as an example, but I chose a fullback. I thought he was a great example of a player who filled a niche role in helping an outstanding skill player be his best. His blocks are intended to allow another player to make plays. Exactly. Georges' job is also to allow his star skill players to make plays, without the fear of a dirty hit or a slash.

If a player is not skilled enough to take a regular shift as a forward or defenseman, then he does not belong on the ice as a so-called enforcer.

Every enforcer in today's game takes shifts. Usually they are on the fourth line and get the least ice time on the team, but they do skate. Way back I pointed out that the demands of today's game involve having an enforcer who can also play the game. There is no player in the NHL who cannot skate, pass, forecheck, and backcheck. Some are better than others, but every player, even an enforcer, can do it. The four-line nature of the game as it is played todey requires this.

the enforcer usually is called upon after one of his teammates is hit hard but legally in the course of play.

Again, feel this is incorrect. See above.

posted by tahoemoj at 04:23 PM on January 09, 2009

My main problem with the enforcer is that he's often being sent off the bench with the sole purpose to commit an act that is against the rules. As with Neal, if he was being sent in to purposely facemask another player we wouldn't stand for it. We wouldn't tolerate a relief pitcher that can pitch fairly well, but in reality is only on the team to come in and throw bean balls at a player on the other team that had slid into third too hard, or took out the second baseman in a double play situation. So, just because the goon can play hockey at some level doesn't really change the situation.

I don't think that the enforcer is sent very often for clean, but hard hits. But, then again, it is all about perception. What I view as a clean hit by my player is viewed as a cheap shot by your team.

I'll end with this, even the most highly protected NHL player is one tough dude. The game is very demanding, and I would never call a hockey player pansy-assed, regardless of what level they were playing.

posted by dviking at 06:24 PM on January 09, 2009

OK, pansy-assed was merely a relative term compared to the players of old (before enforcers were necessary). Obviously they're all tougher than anyone in this thread, myself included. The argument that fighting is needed to prevent cheap shots is just plain wrong. As I said above, every other sport manages to keep dirty play to a minimum without having a player dedicated to fighting. Hockey can do the same if it wants to. I don't think any true hockey fan would find the game less interesting or enjoyable if the goons or the fighting went away. If repeat fighters (say >3 per season) were given long suspensions, and teams were prevented from filling those roster positions during the suspensions (i.e. one fewer dressed player on the bench), every goon would lose his job overnight. Hockey would be just as much fun to watch and play, and there would be one more NHL job per team for players who actually deserve to be there.

posted by rocket88 at 06:49 PM on January 09, 2009


As far as the use of enforcers, I'm with you 100%. I'm all for players giving payback on a dirty hit, or a teammate stepping in to give said payback if the victim is unable. Enforcers aren't needed, but since they are there, now, my pointsin my earlier post stand. Would I like to see an enforcer-less NHL? Absolutely. However, the league will have to come down a lot harder on dirty hits, especially when it's, say, Bertuzzi or Chara on a guy like Crosby or Datsyuk. Not because those guys are "dainty superstars" or "pansy-asses," but because of the size disparity. Clean hits are clean hits, and warrant no punishment if the recipient happens to get hurt. But if a huge hulk of a man must resort to dirty play, then throw the book at him if his victim is injured. My idea...if a hit is ruled dirty, and the victim gets hurt, then the offender sits out as long as his victim. End a guy's career, you end yours as well. Guys like Rob Blake and Niklas Kornwall can level you with a crushing, clean hit, and they're not that big. If you have to play dirty, you don't belong in the NHL.

I blame the Oilers for the enforcer, though. Sure, there were goons in the NHL before then, but they almost made it a requirement. Would guys like Brown, Semenko, or McSorley have even had NHL careers without Gretzky?

posted by MeatSaber at 06:58 PM on January 09, 2009

If 3 fights per season was the benchmark, 101 players would so far be suspended this season and 51 more players are only 1 fight away. Last season (07-08), 156 players would have been suspended. So, on average, there would be about 5 empty roster spots per team per season. That seems to rule out the "fourth line can't skate goon" thing.

posted by BoKnows at 04:54 AM on January 10, 2009

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