I’ve always watched a lot of hockey. I’ve watched some of the best players, playing their best games. I’ve seen great fights, and stunning upsets. I’ve cheered as my team has overcome the hardships, and lamented their fall when they didn’t. I’ve seen great careers cut shot by massive hits.
Hockey has always been a rough sport. Fighting, body checks, and slams are a very real part of the game. But they are not the problem. The hockey played today is very different from what I watched as a child. Now there are rules to protect players, instead of other players. Guys go out dressed in hard plastic, as if going to war, not in soft padding, meant only to prevent the body check or puck from breaking bones.
It’s not just hockey, but everything in which we no longer know how to take a hit, preferring instead to shield ourselves in armour than learn that life (and hockey) is rough, and will bump you around, leave you battered and bruised, often bloodied, but not down.
Now, we look for the easy way out, we try to avoid pain, and look at how we can move along… and that urge in hockey has spurned a rash of cheap shots, late hits, elbows, and other insane bullshit that shouldn’t find itself in our game.
But when I sit and watch, and I wonder 2 things… Are the Refs watching the same Game I am? And what the fuck is the NHL brass doing? The game is now played in a world where star players can do whatever they wish (Just look at the Shea Weber shot), but Coaches are raked over the coals if they point it out. No more are the season ending injuries a rarity, and often caused by stupidity (A La Lindros skating across the line with his head down), but now the hockey goon has taken on a new, and more sinister, light.
Now, instead of fighting, we have late hits. Instead of solid checks, we have elbows.
We don’t have hockey anymore, we have a sport where a team can trade a shitty player for 5 games, to take out the other teams best for half a season.
It’s the easy way out. Life, and hockey, is tough. But we don’t make anyone learn that anymore. And god forbid someone try and teach them.