There are several kinds of fights over hits. In my opinion, the three basic categories are:
• fights after dirty hits,
• fights after any hard hit on a star player,
• fights after clean hits.
I’m okay with fights after dirty hits. I’m okay with fights after questionable, even clean but hard, hits on players like Modano, Eriksson, Richards, etc. I don’t like fights after normal, everyday, clean hits.
But! There are two subcategories of clean hits. The kind that are normal, common, legal and clean that just piss off the guy that gets hit and the kind that are questionable or result in a scary injury.
I’m with Mike Heika in that I understand fights after clean hits when there’s no way the victim’s teammates know if it was clean or not. A few games ago, against Minnesota, Brad Richards got knocked to the ice by a clean, hard, open-ice hit from Cal Clutterbuck and Steve Ott came in and fought the guy over it. That hit fell into two categories — skill player and questionable hit.
The fans and the broadcasters had the benefit of multiple replays to see that it was a legal hit and Brad wasn’t hurt and everything was aboveboard. Steve Ott didn’t. Plus, you just can’t let players like Brad Richards get hit like that.
Last night, in the game against Phoenix, James Neal made a perfectly normal everyday hit along the boards on Petr Prucha, but poor Prucha suffered a terrible injury. His teammates didn’t get a chance to sit quietly and watch replays from all angles to see if it was the hit or the fact that his head hit a stanchion that caused the injury. It’s too bad that Neal had to fight after a clean hit, but that one is understandable.
The fight after a clean hit that I don’t like is when everybody’s okay and nothing is even questionable and it’s on a guy that can take a hit. Several games ago, Mark Fistric got dragged into a fight with Eric Nystrom in a game against Calgary. That was the fight that Mark got fined for because he hit Nystrom with his own helmet. The fight was pointless, though, because Nystrom was the victim of the hit and just didn’t like it so he picked a fight with Fistric. It was a regular hard hit against the boards and Nystrom went after Fistric. He knew that it was a clean hit because he’s the one that took it. None of his teammates even thought anything about it. He was just pouting.
Those are the kinds of fights after clean hits that I don’t like.
So, to recap:
• Fights after dirty hits — OK.
• Fights after hard/questionable/unnecessary hits on star/skilled players — OK.
• Fights after clean hits that require extensive replays and analysis to determine they’re clean or that result in an injury — OK.
• Fights after obviously clean hits — NOT OK.
Simple enough, right?
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