I am a referee and work a lot of local games, mostly upper levels. From bantam (ages 13-14) on up through high school, you always see crap after a whistle in one of the attacking zones. It’s an automatic and it is really annoying. I can usually break them up, but sometimes I wonder why the players even bother with the formalities of a game. First off, they’re loaded up with Amp or whatever energy drink and then they got a coach telling them to hit everything and not to let up, and then they watch YouTube for the latest hockey fights to get their inspiration. Under USA Hockey rules, which is what all but the Capital Hockey Conference plays, officials are supposed to clamp down hard and issue strong penalties and/or game misconducts. Some of the players and coaches are unaware that if they get five penalties in a single game, they’re gone. Coaches are out when their teams get fifteen penalties.
Yet they go out there and think they are playing in the NHL and are expected to throw punches, shove each other, curse each other, and play with their sticks high above the waste at all times. I say this because with all of this going on, how can the NHL think about stopping fighting? It’s not going to happen until, and I hate to say this, a few more players get hurt badly or fatally. And that is going to happen. It might even happen here in Columbus. Last season, I saw a high school player break his composite stick over the helmet of his opponent. This season, a player from Toledo Clay high school was hit from behind and is now in a wheelchair.
Even some of the Chiller Adult League games that I have worked are crazy. I’ve seen men body check women in the co-ed leagues. I’ve seen players smack and break their sticks as close to an offical as they can, trying to make a statement. For what? So they can go to work at a local insurance company or bank or fire department in the morning feeling proud?
And then there is the example of “He showed us up, so we had to get back at him”. Really? Would you beat somebody up if they wore a Michigan jacket in Columbus? Trash talk is one thing, but beating someone up is another and it’s criminal. Everybody hates road rage, but check out some of the local hockey games. Road rage is tame compared to the game on ice.
I linked to the Dallas Covenant game because I think a lot of the coaches are responsible for this kind of stuff. They think that coaching the local bantam team is merely a stopover on their way to the NHL. I recently did a game involving a team from Southern Ohio and as soon as they got behind to the local team, they decided to goad the locals into a fight. It just went on and on. I talked to the coach about his teams’ play, but he wouldn’t be honest with me. His intention was not to have the other team earn their victory, but to make them pay for their victory.
And there are plenty of coaches who think nothing of running the score up and humiliating a bunch of young kids. Read The Dispatch and when you see a high school game with a winning margin of ten goals, that game was stopped right there under the mercy rules.
You can go to any college hockey game and see great hockey with the full understanding that there won’t be any fights. So why won’t the NHL clamp down? Last week, the Calgary Flames knew that the Jackets are essentially without an enforcer, so Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr decided to see what they could accomplish without the puck. Would this happen if fighting was banned?
Fighting is not going to disappear overnight, but it needs to go or be highly regulated. We don’t need take up valuable roster spots with guys who can’t play the game. The game is beautiful and fast as it is. Football players don’t fight, yet I don’t think any of them are sissies because of this. And they don’t carry weapons in their hands.
So watch this nasty video and tell me what you think.