The NHL is known as a hardcore, gritty league in which they allow fighting and huge hits with no targeting type penalties. If you do break a rule, even if it’s swinging a stick at a guy’s head, they usually put you in the Penalty Box for a couple minutes and then move on with their day. Do they have it right or does every other league have it right?
Pittsburgh Penguins Center Evgeni Malkin swung his stick near the head of Philadelphia Flyers’ forward Michael Raffl and not only did he get ejected from the game but then he got suspended for 1 game. In the hockey world, it was plenty of punishment, or was it? The Flyers’ Raffle spoke out against what was perceived as light punishment and some others were upset as well. However, generally speaking, this was not an abnormal punishment in the hockey world. In fact, I don’t often see players getting ejected in the NHL, at most there’s a 5 minute major in the box.
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How are things like this handled in other leagues? Let’s take baseball for instance, where if you as much as look at a guy funny, your next wild pitch will get you sent to the showers. In football, many people aren’t even sure who you’re allowed to hit and how you’re allowed to hit them. In basketball you could shove a guy and get kicked out of the game these days. Or at the very least a flagrant foul and hefty fine.
It wasn’t always like that in those leagues, we all remember scenes from the 70’s and 80’s of basketball players knocking each other out, clothes lining each other, hard fouls and more. Who doesn’t remember in the NFL the massive hits by those players like Dick Butkus and of course in baseball hitting a batter was nothing out of the norm.
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When did this all change? Did we become more civilized? Did the various leagues think it was bad for business? Maybe we’ve become softer, or on a more positive note less barbaric. Whichever side of the fence you lean on there’s no disputing most of us remember these fights and incidents more than we remember the small things from game to game through the years. So it’s at least entertaining to us.
Personally, I’d like to look at it this way: fighting works for hockey but with other sports it doesn’t. I’ve heard people say that they allow fighting in hockey to reduce players from hitting with their stick or even worse their skate. If you agree with that reasoning for allowing them to fight, then maybe Malkin does deserve a longer punishment.
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About the Author:
Beck is owner, janitor, author and show host on 12 oz Sports Radio. Catch his periodic articles and online.
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