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Great article on Boogeyman


Guest mkscrewy
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just started reading it, but pretty fascinating so far. this is part one of a series of three.

http://www.nytimes.c...wl.html?_r=1

This is must reading for hockey fans. I've read both installments and it has changed my perspective on fighting. A lot of enforcers retire with a lot of physical problems and more worrisome, they often end up with psychological disorders and substance abuse problems as well.

I remember Dave Brown's comment about what it is like to be an enforcer (to paraphrase): "How would you like to walk into your office and have someone punch you in the face? That's what it's like". I had not truly considered how difficult it is to be an NHL enforcer. Brant Myhres is quoted saying something similar in part two of the series: “Imagine you go pick a guy that’s 6-4, 220 pounds, and say, ‘Why don’t we meet here on the street in two days, and we’ll slug it out and see how it goes?’ I guarantee you’ll be a mess.” They are under a lot of stress.

The stress combined with multiple undiagnosed concussions and the availability of narcotics to take the edge off make these guys prime candidates to become substance abusers. Because their hockey skills are so limited, they know that acknowledging an injury might cost them a roster spot and perhaps even end a career, so they go out and get pounded every night, doing even more damage to their bodies and their brains. They are cannon fodder.

Makes me wonder if it is worth it at the NHL level. I feel comfortable saying right now that it isn't worth it at the junior hockey level. It may be tradition and it may sell tickets, but it clearly isn't in the interest of the long term health of still developing brains. The idea of 16 year olds getting into multiple, bare knuckle scraps and risking head injury is completely insane.

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this is part two

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/05/sports/hockey/derek-boogaard-blood-on-the-ice.html

the videos on the left sidebar are worth watching. interviews with Todd Fedoruk on addiction, being an enforcer, getting his face broken by Boogaard; interview with DJ King reviewing video of one of his fights with Boogaard. A lot of great work done in this series.

Link to the videos:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/12/04/sports/hockey/boogaard-video.html

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It has been a part of my stance for quite some time. It is time for the role of "enforcer" to end in the NHL.

I agree that it would be an acceptable outcome to have fighting so long as it wasn't the same guys beating each others brains out all the time. However, I'm not sure how you end the enforcer role without ending fighting altogether. If you increase penalties, enforcers become even more useless than they already are and you effectively end fighting. I think you get the same result if you tack on a suspension after a certain number of fights. You end fighting.

Whatever rule changes occur, I think you need to do it at both the major junior level as well as in the North American pro leagues. Getting rid of it at the Canadian major junior level is essential IMO because this is the level at which fighting becomes an acceptable and inseparable part of hockey. Not only that, but I think it is unconscionable that kids under 20 and as young as 16 are involved in very risky bare fists fighting.

Banning it or severely curtailing it somehow is going to be resisted by a lot of teams because of the huge draw fighting has. I would imagine GM's for minor league teams in particular in marginal markets wonder if they can survive without fighting. A lot of fans like the fighting better than they like the hockey and eliminating it almost certainly means a substantial reduction in viewers.

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Posted Today, 05:25 PM

Quote

I've read both installments and it has changed my perspective on fighting.

It has been a part of my stance for quite some time. It is time for the role of "enforcer" to end in the NHL.

I gotta say after reading these articles I'm beginning to feel the same way. When I was growing up, there weren't any hockey fans in my family. My brother and I were the first, and fighting was a big part of us getting into it in the mid '80s. My mom's family lived on 9th and Spring (still do) but I'm not sure how big the Flyers were in Chinatown back then, or even when they won the cup. My uncles were Philly fans, but not Flyers fans necessarily (you all know what I mean). Anyhow, the fighting and aggressiveness really drew us into the game. I had a Hextall jersey and my brother had a Dave Brown jersey, which my nephew now wears around. I still love a good fight in the game, but I'm not so sure I can fully enjoy it as thoroughly as I once did. We always hear about guys like Boogaard who are great personalities off the ice, soft-spoken, great with kids and fans etc., and on the ice are like cornered wolverines. And we always hear about how fighting isn't in their personality and how there's this mental hurdle they have to get over to get geared up for fights, pacing in the locker room, an obvious physical and mental strain when they know they have to fight—like Myhres's quote and Dave Brown's paraphrase above.

I knew and read about all of this before, but I really think I didn't get it like I do now, reading Boogaard's notes and the mental and physical tolls exacted and exacerbated every night and every season, with the pressure of the job (and losing it) and expectations from the fans and teammates compounding it further. It didn't really seem quantifiable until this series of articles and videos, which obviously I think are quite good. I think about guys like Boogaard as a kid, growing up with dreams of an NHL player, scoring goals, getting their team to the Cup, and then having to make that shift to where the only way they'll make it to the NHL is with their fists, and making that decision at 16-17-18 years old. I'm finding myself agreeing with HF101's perspective more and more: I don't think fighting should be taken out of the game but maybe it's time to change the culture of the NHL and begin reducing the role and importance of the enforcer. I don't know what this would mean for other leagues in Canada, but it would probably take a lot for a movement like this to take place—probably a complete cultural shift. But you read about guys like Boogaard and Rypien this past year dying of prescription drug abuse, whether or not they mixed alcohol in with it or whatever, mental issues of depression, changes in personality and I have to ask how many guys would say it's worth it? I'm sure there's a few present and past enforcers in the NHL who would say they'd do it all over again, but how many (like Somerfeld) wouldn't?

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I don't know that you can do away with fighting in hockey. The need for self policing is always right there beneath the surface. I do not see the need for a guy who is nothing but an enforcer on the ice either. It would be easy enough to weed them out of the league using the rules they already have in place and if you watch Shelley and the penalties he draws(on himself), it is evident that they are already are sending a not so subtle message to the NHL level teams.

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I don't know that you can do away with fighting in hockey. The need for self policing is always right there beneath the surface. I do not see the need for a guy who is nothing but an enforcer on the ice either. It would be easy enough to weed them out of the league using the rules they already have in place and if you watch Shelley and the penalties he draws(on himself), it is evident that they are already are sending a not so subtle message to the NHL level teams.

There is no evidence to suggest the league is trying to end or even discourage fighting. While the trend is down the number of fights is still substantially higher now than it was in 2005-6. I would guess that the league isn't interested in reducing it because it isn't in the economic interest of the NHL, minor affiliates, or major junior hockey, all of which would suffer loss of viewers/gate receipts were fighting to be curtailed or banned. The players union isn't going to do anything to discourage fighting because to some degree, the union consists of players who are willing to risk permanent brain damage because fighting is their only ticket to the NHL.

Fighting will end only when the public decides that fighting should be banned or severely limited and its moral outrage reaches the point where it is uncomfortable for the league.

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There is no evidence to suggest the league is trying to end or even discourage fighting. While the trend is down the number of fights is still substantially higher now than it was in 2005-6. I would guess that the league isn't interested in reducing it because it isn't in the economic interest of the NHL, minor affiliates, or major junior hockey, all of which would suffer loss of viewers/gate receipts were fighting to be curtailed or banned. The players union isn't going to do anything to discourage fighting because to some degree, the union consists of players who are willing to risk permanent brain damage because fighting is their only ticket to the NHL.

Fighting will end only when the public decides that fighting should be banned or severely limited and its moral outrage reaches the point where it is uncomfortable for the league.

I did not say the league was trying to end/ban fighting. I said they are starting to discourage the use of enforcers through the tools they already have in hand. If you ban fighting all together, the inevitable bad blood boil over between a rivalry will end up in an uncontrollable donnybrook with all parties involved and no way that the refs on the ice can hope to control it. Something that would actually help is getting rid of the instigator penalty. Then the cheap shot guys like Cook, Avery, Tootoo, Torres would have to answer the bell for playing over the edge. The league is protecting their play with the instigator penalty.

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This 3 part article put a lot into perspective about the game and fighting.

Would a non-fighting league saved Derick's life? Maybe, maybe not.

I think the doctors need to be more responsible on what they are prescribing. In addition, enough with the cover ups. If a player is rehab for substance abuse then let it be known. That could have saved his life. If there would have been a more watchful public eye on the player and the staff, maybe this could have been avoided.

What do I think of fighting in the NHL? I am ready to take some sh!t for this, but ban it. It's that simple.

Edited by Bertmega
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Would a non-fighting league saved Derick's life? Maybe, maybe not.

He would have had a completely different life, most likely living in a small town, unheard of in Western Canada.

I think the doctors need to be more responsible on what they are prescribing. In addition, enough with the cover ups. If a player is rehab for substance abuse then let it be known. That could have saved his life. If there would have been a more watchful public eye on the player and the staff, maybe this could have been avoided.

Quite frankly, I question the medical ethics of most people associated with professional teams. The Flyers have had incident after incident, not all of which went to court, but some that did. LaPerriere coming back was ridiculous, for example. And ended his career.

Doctors are professionals with professional organizations that are expected to do some regulation and policing. Ethically, they should be on the hook to make such oversight happen.

Realistically, the league needs to pull it's collective head out from its collective posterior.

What do I think of fighting in the NHL? I am ready to take some sh!t for this, but ban it. It's that simple.

I don't know how to ban "the enforcer" without banning fighting, but I would be in favor of ending "the enforcer" role. Players who stay up all night the night before - repeatedly - knowing that they will have one role tomorrow - to fight - is not, IMO, hockey.

An Arron Asham or Chris Kunitz (or Mike Richards) who drops the gloves "when needed" is, to me, a different story. If you want to make it a 5 with automatic game misconduct, I could go with that.

The Boogaard case is a horrible story. As is the Fedoruk saga, etc. And there are many players for whom the "only path" to the NHL was fighting. I'm sorry, but that path, again IMO, doesn't need to be there.

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@radoran

He would have had a completely different life, most likely living in a small town, unheard of in Western Canada.

Quite frankly, I question the medical ethics of most people associated with professional teams. The Flyers have had incident after incident, not all of which went to court, but some that did. LaPerriere coming back was ridiculous, for example. And ended his career.

Doctors are professionals with professional organizations that are expected to do some regulation and policing. Ethically, they should be on the hook to make such oversight happen.

Realistically, the league needs to pull it's collective head out from its collective posterior.

I don't know how to ban "the enforcer" without banning fighting, but I would be in favor of ending "the enforcer" role. Players who stay up all night the night before - repeatedly - knowing that they will have one role tomorrow - to fight - is not, IMO, hockey.

An Arron Asham or Chris Kunitz (or Mike Richards) who drops the gloves "when needed" is, to me, a different story. If you want to make it a 5 with automatic game misconduct, I could go with that.

The Boogaard case is a horrible story. As is the Fedoruk saga, etc. And there are many players for whom the "only path" to the NHL was fighting. I'm sorry, but that path, again IMO, doesn't need to be there.

You hit the nail on the head. I think that the enforcer role needs to be gone. These guys really contribute nothing to the game and yet they put themselves out there night in and night out. For what? Maybe the team gets fired up? Maybe not.

It's not worth what they do to their body in the end.

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