I think I could do without fighting in hockey, but I know I would be better off without the preaching and the Utopian world view being projected by those writers who see a perfect world where hockey is a sanitized game, free of emotion, save for the odd collision that might take place.
Naughty you, I am told by someone who does not like hockey and who thinks I should share the same view.
They tell me to go find my seat in the box, take the little pill that will dull my edges, and be sure to read the nice academic pamphlet that they have waiting for me. It's a study about behavior. All the good homes have read it, or at least, all the good homes were kind enough to distribute it to all the bad homes like mine.
But where are all the people from the good homes who seek to change hockey to fit in a sedated world for the less fortunate? Why aren't they here?
Ah, I am told, they found it undignified to come to a hockey game before. Even now, they still do not want to be seen to be coming to games.
Well, there is that whole thing about helping those less fortunate, so long as you never have to actually socialize with them. Besides, hockey is not their game.
Telling others how to live their lives.
I can see the need for stopping the appointment fighting that once featured the Brashears, Twists, Laraques, Grimsons, etc. But the emotion of the game tells you that referees can only see and call so much. And when liberties are taken, a team either has to take it or say stop. Nothing says stop like a closed fist.
That's a fact. When the Flyers were pounding everybody in the 1970s, Montreal's Larry Robinson said enough, with body checks and, if need be, fists.
Today, there is a certain corner of the elite world that says this is all wrong, telling you they are right and if you disagree, perhaps you really don't belong with them in their sanitized luxury box. But these deep thinkers do not talk to the players union, which seems to be less interested in joining the Universalist hockey circuit.
And the players, in a recent poll conducted by ESPN.com, seems to say they do not want the elimination of fighting in hockey. Perhaps they might if these Univeralists would say just exactly how referees could stop the after-the-whistle actions that seem to contribute to the eventual dropping of gloves. For every time a referee sees an infraction, a few are missed or ignored because they were immaterial to the play at the moment.
That's the rub, or friction, if you will, that has yet to be addressed. Admittedly, it is a tough time for hockey. But that doesn't mean it should be open season on the game. I said at a hockey round table in October that I could do without most of the fighting in hockey, those that appear to be appointment or arranged bouts. As the season has gone on, I have grown less troubled by fights rising out of those transgressions that the referee did not address, or could not see.
Tell me how the refereeing can be improved so the game does not get to the point where an exchange of fists is an option. Work with me on that, and then we may be able to agree on a deal, shaking hand rather than trading shots.
Are the high-minded folks willing to work on a solution or just sit in judgement. In the film adaptation of Mordecai Richler's "Barney's Version," Barney Panofsky's future father-in-law is a vision of contempt when Barney's father, Israel, describes what it was like being a Jewish cop in Montreal, having to make arrests with force -- and without the proper backup another policeman might expect.
The bride's father: "Are you saying you were gratuitously violent with suspected felons?"
Israel: "Gratuitously, no. I always got paid. I ain't going to work for free."
Barney: "He means unnecessarily, Dad."
Israel: "Oh, look. When a fella is young and you give him authority, he likes to push people around. But I always knew that my name was Israel Panofsky. I knew I had to be extra careful and I was -- most of the time."
Bride's father: "Most? Did you ever consider that your career advancement was stunted by your professional conduct and not by imagined prejudices?"
Israel: "I call it as I see it. But you're the one with the mansion on the hill, so what do I know?"
I think I trust the street cop, and the players on the ice, more than those who tend to look down on the people who must get a little dirty to do their job.
But what do I know?