I’ve wondered off and on over the years about how I really feel about fighting, and I’m asking myself again with all the buzz about the George Parros incident. It seems I’ve always leaned towards fighting.
But I can’t stand the goon stuff. The guy who can only fight and not much more. And I’m not smart enough to figure out the staged stuff.
I just think that many who are now clamoring for a total ban on fighting didn’t mind at all seeing someone like Wendel Clark and Marty McSorley getting into a beauty. Or Larry Robinson teaching Dave Schultz a big lesson.
The Broad Street Bullies won two Stanley Cups through thuggery and scrapping with a serious amount of talent thrown in for good measure. But it was the Canadiens, who played the non-mugging kind of game, who put a stop to the nonsense in Philadelphia. Great hockey trumped fighting. And a good Larry Robinson fist to Dave Schultz’s face.
That was some serious goon stuff the Bullies were dishing out back then. And it went on every night in the WHA too. I think both have played a major role in the evolution of goonery.
Remember those sensational games in the 1987 Canada Cup when Canada and Russia met in the finals and Wayne Gretzky set up Mario Lemieux for the winner in game three with less than two minutes to go? There was no heavyweight goon on either team. No staged fights. But that wasn’t real life. It was a much anticipated Canada-Russia match up when the rivalry had meat on its bones.
But if the rules would’ve allowed, maybe a good tussle between Rick Tocchet and Sergei Svetlov would have added to the lore. And many who now say they want fighting out of the game might have whooped and hollered back then if some nastiness really had cropped up.
I don’t think fighting will ever end, even if someone dies from it. But somehow it has to be curbed and the only good solution I’ve heard so far is from Bob McCown on Prime Time Sports who suggested the NHL make it so goons must be paid the league maximum, which is about $12 million or so a year. How many teams would carry one then?
The sight of George Parros trying to sit up with that concussed look on his face was disturbing to say the least. But George was hired to be the muscle, to add an element the Canadiens haven’t had and were going nowhere without, and it’s a tough job that can have some dark moments. I can’t imagine doing this job. I have a really sensitive nose.
I was happy to see George signed, and I just got finished saying we need goons out of the league. But if he could be a preventive measure, dropping them in only the truest of situations, without the staged stuff, and throwing in some hard work that results in a scoring chance now and again, then what’s wrong with that?
So is it fighting or no fighting that I want? I want the Wendel Clark, Larry Robinson, Clark Gillies kind of fights. No staged stuff. Just an honest disagreement now and again that helps our team win.