I don't like Wayne Gretzky. There. I said it. I just got some scowls from some people, and others perked up their ears. People ask me why I don't care for Wayne. Simple. The way I enjoy the game. What I really enjoy about the game. What I like seeing. I love seeing a goal being scored, but to be honest I'd rather see a couple of bone crushing hits on the ice.
Which is why I'd rate Mike Grier far above Wayne as a player I'd idolize. Grier falls under my "Substance without flash" category. Being a brutally to the point kind of player really gets my attention. And Mike is all about that. Scrapping along the boards, laying people out with a crunching hit and causing havoc on the other team's offense. I like that.
Sure Wayne could score goals, but did you ever once see him throw a good hit? How about a decent hit? A mediocre hit? Yeah I didn't think so. Does Wayne strike you as a guy that would fight along the boards? Power his way in towards the net? Drop the gloves?
This is what I'm talking about. The way I see the game is very much 2-way old time hockey.
Now thanks to the Gretzky era and the NHL's move away from the goonish 70's we got the role player. Guys that only do one thing. Not every player falls into this, but it seems so many do. They are good at defense, or scoring, or fighting, but rarely more than one of these things. When you think of the great players, and I mean GREAT players, they were good or proficient enough at every aspect of the game. Bobby Hull had a massive slapshot, scored goals like no other left winger, and he was no stranger to a scrap. But 20 years later his son scored, but I can't see Brett fighting anyone older than 10. Can you?
I'm actually going somewhere with this so stay with me. The first thing I really wanted to point out was role players. Now we have them locked down. Right? You're still with me? Cool. Because now I want to talk about a different role player- The Goon. Goons come in one size-ridiculously giant. They usually have the stickhandling skills of a 4 year old, the shot of an epileptic, and the hockey sense of a kitten. They are there for one reason- to fight the other team's Goon.
Don't get me wrong. I love a good hockey fight, but watching two goons that shouldn't be playing at the Jr. High level slugging it out while eating up a real roster slot does nothing for me. I don't see how they could bring any momentum to a team by winning or losing. Look at it this way "If Derek Boogaard got KO'ed by George Parros in the street would it be news?" Fuck no it wouldn't. If Jarome Iginla got into a drunken fist fight with Ryan Smyth would THAT be news? It better be!
In the "new" NHL, if we can get rid of hooking and holding can we deep 6 the Goon in favor of letting real players fight their own fights against other PLAYERS? Every other role player is taking a hit from some where. Scorers aren't defensive enough, they don't skate through traffic. defensemen don't score enough. Whatever. The list goes on and on. But everyone turns a blind eye to the fact that there is really only a handful of fights on the ice that have fuck all to do with real player enmity. Mostly it's just two cement headed jerkoffs center ice wailing on each other because they are completely useless at every other faccet of the game!
Go back in time with me for a minute. You remember Bobby Probert? I bet you do. You should! Anyway. Sure the guy fought like a badger with rabies, but do you realize he was good for a point every 3rd regular season game and more than a point every other playoff game? Domi scored about a point every 4th regular season game and a point about every 5th playoff game. Sure they were somewhat cement headed and brawlers, but they were PLAYERS. They enhanced their presence on the ice with fighting not by making it the only thing they didn't suck shit at.
Now here's a REAL NHL worthy fight. When Iginla fought Derian Hatcher in the 03-04 Playoffs that was a real fight. When Lecavillier fought Chara, that was also a real fight. Real players stand up for themselves. Period. When a team captain fights a first pairing D-man that's a real fight. There's something on the line other than a free trip back to the press box or the minors.
I don't see how this problem of goon on goon boredom will get fixed unless it is a 30 team coach pact to leave the douches in the minors. Anyway, I know you're probably thinking "Whip dee damn doo doo! Another fighting blog!", but I had to get that shit off my chest. I just want to watch meaningful fights on the ice. I guess that's my bitch, if I wanted to watch two meatheads throw punches I'd watch the NBA.