Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/13/13 at 05:55 PM ET
from Colby Cosh at Maclean's,
Shot-blocking has its specialists, just as fist-fighting does. When we are denouncing fighting, we argue that the George Parroses of hockey must be forced to quit for their own sake—spared the lucrative temptation to risk life and health in the name of entertainment and vicious machismo. Shot-blocking, much more obviously than fighting, is not something a sane person would do for fun.
But how are the death-defying shot-blockers regarded? It should suffice to point out that the official league statistics do not tabulate the fights the game “tolerates,” but do count blocked shots. Commentators, even coaches and general managers, cite the figures and praise the league leaders.Maclean’s corporate sibling Sportsnet once included shot-blocking as part of a slapped-together “Grit Index” in a digital graphic.
Even the kind of relatively evolved hockey commentator who tut-tuts disapprovingly at an honest scrap will revert to old-timey type when some courageous plug stops a Chara one-timer with a face or ankle or scrotum. It is “taking one for the team,” which is precisely the unhappy, self-sacrificing behavioral pretext that is unanimously decried when Parros gets an owie. How can manly bravado be an ugly vestige of Neanderthality in one context and a stony old Roman virtue in another? Try explaining that one to your kids.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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