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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Monday, May 22, 2006

Chief Justice Roberts Is Misinformed About Hockey Fights

Today, the Supreme Court, in its opinion in Brigham City v. Stuart, compared the role of a peace officer to that of a hockey referee, noting that "an officer is not like a boxing (or hockey) referee, poised to stop a bout only if it becomes too one-sided."

As far as I'm concerned, this raises two problems. First, Chief Justice Roberts is wrong - it's often the linesmen (not the referees) who break up fights, and they frequently stop a fight before the participants even begin throwing punches (admittedly, sometimes to my dismay). NHL Rule 41(f) specifically notes that while the referee tells the combatants to stop, it is the linesmen who physically separates them.
Any player who persists in continuing or attempting to continue a fight or altercation after he has been ordered by the Referee to stop, or who resists a Linesman in the discharge of his duties shall, at the discretion of the Referee, incur a misconduct or game misconduct penalty in addition to any penalties imposed.
The other issue that the Chief Justice's comment raises is a more serious one - the fact that people who don't follow hockey think that the NHL is a bunch of thugs on skates who only go around pummeling each other. (I'm assuming Roberts isn't an avid hockey fan, but you can try to prove me wrong.) This is far from the case. The new NHL rules seriously cut down on the amount of fighting in the league. The NHL has a reputation of being a goon league, which it isn't - there's an unbelievable amount of athleticism on display, especially with new rules opening up the ice.

Someone please send the following videos to Chief Justice Roberts:



And then please note this one:


Zdeno Chara, who stands 6-9, 260, pairs off with Vincent Lecavalier (6-4, 223), who is normally a big guy, but not compared to Chara. Chara has the chance to throw a knockout punch as Lecavalier tries to escape into the fetal position - but he doesn't, even though the ref is late to intervene. Instead, Chara shows some serious respect for his opponent, who is one of the best players in the game, one of its most marketable stars, and not a guy who typically goes out to fight.

While fighting is still a part of the game, it's not what hockey is all about.

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