Friday, March 06, 2009

Kay's Seven Deadly Challenges #2: "Wrath"

"Walker: From the Middle English, meaning 'This is really gonna hurt'."
Raleigh, NC - September 2007 (Click to embiggen)

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Wrath, according to goes well beyond the usual anger. It's an all consuming rage that for all practical purposes blurs the boundary between humankind and the "lower" beasts. So does a hockey fight really qualify as a demonstration?

I think in some cases, the fisticuffs that take place during a hockey game are probably as much symbolic as anything. Frequently a player on one team will call out a player on the other and the two will engage in an impromptu bout simply to get some energy going for their respective teams. There's no question that the fans are energized when the gloves come off (don't believe me, just watch 'em sometime). This is not an instance of wrath. This is mostly showmanship.

But that's not the only reason a fight will break out on the rink. And in cases where the fight is sparked by a perceived cheap shot -- particularly one aimed at a star player, the situation is a good bit different. Take a run at an opposing team's captain, or their goalie, or one of their high-value players and you've just invited a beat-down. There will be no ceremonial dropping of the gloves and dancing around looking for an opening. Somebody's gonna step into you and dispense some swift and brutal justice unless you're already headed to the sin bin or the locker room for your transgression. And even a sentence from the guys in the striped shirts is no guarantee.

And every now and then a game just gets so contentious that there's very little provocation needed for the fists to fly. Take this game between Carolina and Columbus for example. I'm not really sure how it began, but by the end of the second period it had escalated to a point where both penalty boxes were overflowing. It got so bad that with 22.6 second remaining in the second period, the referees (after breaking up yet another brawl) sent both teams to the locker room and the last few seconds of the second period were played after intermission. I gotta tell ya. I've seen a lot of hockey games. Hundreds of them. But I don't ever remember seeing that happen before or since.

I'd love to tell you the story behind this battle between Scott Walker and Ron Hainsey, especially since Hainsey isn't one to collect a lot of penalty minutes. But the truth is, this was such a common sight during this game I simply can't remember what started it. But given that Scott Walker doesn't unload on somebody without due consideration, I have to assume Mr. Hainsey was guilty of some infraction or other. This game got so over the top that even the Canes' mild-mannered goalie Cam Ward took a poke at somebody. And this? N.e.v.e.r H.a.p.p.e.n.s.

Is it truly wrath when it happens in the context of a sporting event? Take a look at these faces and decide for yourself. Oh. One other thing to factor into the decision tree:

This was a pre-season game.Violence Unsilenced

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Kay said...

Great Wrath post Mojo!

And that is why I love hockey... well there are many reasons why I love hockey, but the fighting is waaaaay up there on the list.

Robin said...

Aah, I love it when you talk hockey...

After twenty years in Israel and a vast many improvements in the quality of living here there are very few things that I still must do without, and sadly hockey is one of them. I can't even watch the games on - it's not available out of the US, and you can forget finding anything beyond the occasional late night clip on Eurosport... As a born and bred NYR fan it was a very hard thing to get used to.

Shadow said...

ooooh, boxing on the ice has become expected, hasn't it....

Pagan Sphinx said...

It it's "symbolic" do you think they pump themselves up beforehand and then make it a point to let out the aggression by means of punches?

While I like the game of hockey (I had a boyfriend in high school who played hockey and then an adult boyfriend who STILL played hockey. I never understood the fighting. shrug.

maryt/theteach said...

Mojo, it sure looks like wrath/anger! Isn't hockey a really dangerous sport? Lots of cuts and bruises? Mine''s up! :(