Danny Bailey – Staff Writer
On Tuesday, the New Jersey Devils played the Vancouver Canucks.
The close 3-2 victory wasn’t the main talking point the next day, however.
During the game, New Jersey’s Taylor Hall laid a big clean hit on Vancouver’s Phillip Larsen behind its net.
The hit triggered one of the most generic and expected reactions that is tradition to hockey: one of Vancouver’s players came over, threw his gloves off and tangled up with Hall to “defend “ the teammate who got hit, while the rest of the players from both sides come in to form a massive scrum.
This reaction is generally warranted after a dirty boarding hit or a hit that intentionally targets the head.
In this specific instance, Larsen’s head was relatively low and was not looking up, and Hall tried to avoid making the head the main point of contact.
Larsen was laid out and visibly unconscious.
The hit was hard, but it appeared most of the damage done was when Larsen’s head violently hit the ice.
Like stated earlier, a scrum ensued right over top of the unconscious Larsen.
His head was kicked two or three times, one of which was from his own teammate.
The Canucks showed no regard for its teammate, who would need a stretcher to get off the ice.
So this brings up the point: when will players stop fighting after big hits?
You rarely see fights after big hits in football.
You never see fights after disrespectful dunks in basketball.
You rarely see fights after balls hitting batters in baseball.
So why does it continue in hockey?
Unlike the other sports mentioned, hockey has a long and storied tradition of fighting.
For other sports, fighters aren’t even kicked out of games.
In the old days, 4th and sometimes even 3rd lines would be made up of “enforcers”: players whose sole purpose was to hit and fight.
Thankfully over the past decade, we’ve seen that role essentially phased out of the league aside from a few players here and there.
If you truly care about your teammate who was just flattened, would you fight right over top of him or would you clear the area?
Only two of the Canucks players realized that Larsen was still lying down in the middle of the scrum and tried to help, one of which was the goalie, while players from both sides seemed to not care.
I personally think it is time to throw tradition aside.
If you are the victim of a big clean hit, maybe you should get better and pay attention.
Fighting can stay around for dirty hits, but it’s pointless for legal plays.
Olympic hockey is played on a larger rink to keep the focus on speed and skill, as opposed to a more physical game, and it’s still an incredible sport to watch without the fighting.