Proteau's Blog: Sunshine falling into darkness

Adam Proteau
By: Adam Proteau
Dec 4, 2006
The Hockey News

Proteau's Blog: Sunshine falling into darkness

Adam Proteau
By: Adam Proteau
Dec 4, 2006
• Six straight losses now for the Panthers, and the inmates are starting to shake their cages a little louder.

“Something needs to happen,” center Chris Gratton said after the Panthers lost 3-1 to Atlanta Friday to fall to 8-15-5.
“It's not my decision, but we obviously need something. It's dead in here right now. It's dead in the (dressing) room and we're playing dead on the ice.”

How ‘bout a few more players-only meetings, Chris?

“We can only have so many meetings,” he said. “The meetings are getting old, and after a while, guys just roll their eyes.”

Now they know how Panthers fans feel when they get together.

• Sometimes I think Coach's Corner should be in the running for best Canadian comedy series. This weekend, Don Cherry told Rantin' Ron MacLean to give his thoughts on the game a rest – then proceeded to drone on and on about fighting's glorious and valuable place in hockey history.

The irony was lost on Cherry, but as that inability hasn't stopped him over the last two decades, it didn't again.

“(Fighting) has been going on for 50 years…100 years,” Cherry said, pickin'-and-grinnin' his way through another Saturday night performance. “Nobody's ever got killed in a fight, but guys have got killed blocking shots, so let's take blocking shots out.”

Nice try, Grapes. First of all, we also had typhoid to deal with a century ago. We figured out a way to contain it and moved our attentions to more vital matters.

Secondly, nobody at my local chapter of The Tree-Hugging, Bleeding Hearts Personhood Of Greater North America & Beyond is stumping to drive blocked shots out of the game.

Here's why: no player tries to block a shot in a pathetic effort to change the game's momentum. No player colludes with the opposition to stage a phony, blocked-shot spectacle immediately after the puck is dropped. Shots are blocked to try and stop goals from being scored. The same can't be said for fighting. End of comparison.

• There's nothing like a night out at the bar with your male friends to remind you there's nothing – no street sign, no ATM bank statement, no security fence posting, no pizza menu – that can't be made into a sexual innuendo. Hell, even the word ‘innuendo' is an innuendo.

• Sidney Crosby once told me enforcer Andre Roy is a fun guy to have in the dressing room. That must be why Lightning GM Jay Feaster claimed him off waivers from the Penguins this weekend. And to me, that must mean Tampa Bay's atmosphere requires a little, ahem, lightening.

Another column, another boring diatribe beating your chest over fighting. Of course you joked that the lack of fighting in today's game couldn't possibly be the reason for the pathetic attendance records and television ratings. No, of course it couldn't be that. Fans LOVE today's skating/power play/soccer match, don't they? Especially those of us who grew up watching the game in the late '70's early '80's (ever see a game from then, sport?) and who have been the foundation for the NHL for the last decade or so. Good idea, alienate us...And I, for one, am so glad that nobody is spending their time talking about the Avs/Wings, Battle of Alberta, Boston and Montreal, or Probert/Domi anymore. No more boring hockey talk to clutter up my day. The NHL has to be the most poorly marketed professional sport and puck heads like yourself are as guilty as anyone else. Thanks for being such an astute columnist, Adam, a real gem. You certainly have an ear for the fans and an eye on the game. When its all said and done, only your mum will remember you, while Don Cherry, right or wrong, will have his exit lamented by fans across North America, Maybe you could write a column on how cool all the head shots are and take odds on how long before a young star gets really badly hurt. You're the best.
- Steve Walsh

Something is very wrong here. Players are not hustling at all. A trade is in the works, but who? Adam do you have any ideas?
- Vic B.

Steve Walsh--amen. So glad those Wings-Avs snorefests loaded with pathetic attempts to change the game's momentum are firmly in the past.
- Mike

Steve Walsh - sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. It lessens the effectiveness of your argument and it makes you appear to be less literate than you probably are. Being sarcastic is the easy part; developing a reasoned coherent response is the hard part. You may not agree with anything or everything he writes but you can't in all good conscience dispute the fact that he does indeed know the game.
- D.S.

Is fighting sometimes a sham excuse just to pound another guy? Sure. Should out and out goons, with little or no ability to play the game be a dying breed? Yes. However, something the pacifists seem to miss is that the two guaranteed events to get fans to stand up and cheer are goals and fights. Adam, you call fighting a "pathetic" way to change the momentum. Yet, many times it does just that. Those firewagon Oilers teams had their share of toughness, which allowed Gretzky and Kurri to make such glorious magic. Finally, you want to talk about declining attendance or whatever, fighting draws fans. A lot of those fans that say they don't watch because of fighting wouldn't watch the sport anyway. Go to Youtube and search for hockey fights. You get 3539 hits as of 12-4-06. Entering hockey goals yields 2614 hits. There's also plenty of guys that are more than willing to lay borderline hits that result in injury, but who will not drop the gloves afterwards-like Bobby Holik and Darius Kasparaitis
- John Saquella

Adam, I have always been a fan of your blog and your writing. However, even I think the non-stop crusade of yours to see the end of fighting is getting a little tired. I have to agree with many of the hockey and Adam fans I see writing feedback to you that fighting has a place in the NHL. What is wrong with dropping gloves to try and change the momentum of the game you are playing? If two guys are willing to drop 'em, I am all for it. So why are you on this "no-fighting kick" lately? Are you using it for ratings? The same way Cherry uses his political incorrectness for ratings? If that is your angle, I'm sure you will see the irony in poking fun at Cherry for his antics? Enough is enough, I think I will stop reading your blogs for now. If I see a headline including the words "white flag already" I will check it out. Until that day, I have heard enough.
Aaron Coughman

I don't know where the Steve Walshes of the world come from and I hope I never find out. I love hockey. I remember watching my first Leafs game, getting my first pair of in-line skates at Christmas followed by my first set of goalie pads, my first house league championship and my first year playing floor hockey in middle school. Never, not once, did I watch or participate in a game so I could "enjoy" a fight. To me hockey is about speed, agility, quickness and unbelievable moves like Sergei Makarov splitting Team Canada's defence at the 1987 Canada Cup followed by Gretzky to Lemieux to win it all. The most exciting hockey I have ever watched has always been international best-on-best competitions followed by memorable Stanley Cup Finals like Edmonton-Philly, -Boston and -Carolina. Why is that when the best hockey is being played, there is almost zero fighting? Because the best players are playing and the thugs are where they should be - in the press box or glued to the bench. Every other team sport somehow manages to operate with a complete lack of fighting. Why is that fighting enthusiastists think hockey should be the exception? First, I want to see goals and saves. Don't waste time with two idiots who are only the ice because they punch well. Second, is anyone going to point out what kind of message this sends to kids? Do you want your kid solving his/her problems with fisticuffs? Use your heads! And make sure they use theirs too! PS Steve, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Managed to do that without fighting too. (Well at least on the field.)
- Rob Wakulat

I think for me anyway hockey fights are a guilty pleasure, similiar to watching "the simple life." I'm sort of torn on the whole issue of fighting in the NHL. I enjoy a good fight, especially a goalie fight, but i recognize that it isn't really going to attract a lot of new fans. Another reader commented that he sees the best hockey during International competitions or during memorable playoff series and that during all of those games there is virtually no fighting. I don't think this is a coincidence. I've only been alive for 26 years and watching hockey for about 15 of those years. I've read a lot about the history of the game and it seems like there was a time when physical intimidation was necessary, but I think the game is naturally evolving to a point where goals change the momentum of a game more than a fight will. I was watching a game on Versus the other week and saw the debut of "the rail cam." I think this shows the speed the game moves at and I really think marketing the game's speed will attract more fans. Also the incredible skill it takes for players like Ovechkin and Crosby and Malkin to do the amazing things they do will also attract more fans. Adam, I respect you for standing for principle on this and taking so much "stuff" from meatheads. I don't think fighting will be banned anytime soon, there are just too many people who fervently support it. I think a cause that you really should take up would be the headshot controversy. I know players get hurt in fights, too, but the injuries players seem to be getting from hits to the head seem much more serious. I love reading your blog and and hearing your thoughts on all things hockey. Thanks...
- Peter

I agree with you Peter. Soccer is just slow hockey. I believe hockey could and should be as popular as soccer, and I'm still mystified that it's not. As to fighting, I've been a fan since the 1970s and believe me, I've seen some real donnybrooks in my time. But the bench clearing brawls are just a waste of time. You'll never be able to do away with fighting in the's a part of it's history, it's very fabric. Sometimes a scuffle does a lot to clear the air after a cheap shot. Where I draw the line is when a bunch of players vent their frustration over poor playing or goaltending by causing a melee. I'd rather watch "Planet of the Apes"...the Mark Wahlburg version.
- Chris
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Proteau's Blog: Sunshine falling into darkness