Friday, February 23, 2007
Birth of an American Hockey Fan Week Five: The Fight
Let me just start this off by saying I missed this fight. I’m not proud of it, I’m not going to make any excuses, I’m not even going to say anything derogatory about the Bruins. I’m just going to say that this was my one big opportunity for a gong show, my one chance to stand up in a bar and scream and shake my fist in rage, and instead I was in my pajamas with a cup of tea, watching the highlights on SportsCenter, gently waving my mug around in mild idignity. If I learned one lesson, it’s that I should never, ever miss a game of hockey, ever again.
That being said, I think SportsCenter did a halfway decent job of getting the highlights of the game across—as in, what game? There was a fight! And a shootout!—and some webrounding today has filled in the missing blanks, those blanks being alternate angles of dudes punching each other. Now it’s no secret that I’m in this partially for the fights (American Boxing Fan? Call me.), but I had no idea how massive a brawl could get, and how accepting, even encouraging the officials, coaches, and commentators are when it comes to the use of fists. Sure, Drury went down thanks to a late hit—a minor hit, really, I’ve been groped worse on the subway—but the second the commentator called fair game on some retribution, it turned the ensuing free-for-all ballbreaking into a justified, almost noble cause. Hell, even after the fight, after the penalty minutes, the delay, the stitches, the shootout, Lindy Ruff (nicknamed Lindy McKickYourAss by the Earl after I amateurishly stated that “Lindy Ruff” sounded like a girl’s name or a swing dance) was still roaring about codes of honor. And that’s what makes hockey great- grudges get held, motherfucker.
And this wasn’t just a hastily thrown together slapfest. This was cold, premeditated, first degree fighting. The Sabres adjusted their lineup specifically for melee. I had no idea that ability to punch a guy in the mouth was considered a measurable tool in hockey, but I’m glad for whoever did the research. The sheer scope of the fight required viewings from multiple sources, and if a dozen guys all trying to spill blood on the ice weren’t shocking enough, when Ray Emery took his helmet off and revealed that there’s a black man playing hockey, well, I damn near shit my pajama pants.
Now, I know we’re talking some Montague-Capulet shit here, but I’m just a little bit in love with Emery right now. Not only does the man remain standing in a fight with a left wing, he actually tears his gloves off in the manner in which one would envision when using the phrase “the gloves came off”. On top of that, the look of sheer, carnal glee on his face as he made the trek across the ice to wail on Biron says “I don’t get to do this nearly enough”, and he kept it there all through his followup match with Peters. Have you ever seen a man smile as he’s getting punched in the face repeatedly until tonight? Has any single display of emotion more fully embodied the sport? I’m a Sabres fan, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a proud night to be from Ottawa, and they don’t get a lot of those.
As for the shootout…jesus, who cares? What a fight.
Birthing Status: Asking for an Epiderral