by Joe Tasca on 10/05/11 at 12:30 PM ET
Outside of a Game 7, it doesn’t get any better for a hockey fan than it does on opening night. The anticipation of the greatest game in the world returning to the forefront for another nine months is a tantalizing thought, to say the least. On top of that, the league always presents several showcase games.
Should the NBA lockout continue deep into the winter, it’s quite conceivable that hockey will be the only major sport in operation come early next year. Let’s just say I’m not particularly broken up about that possibility. The NHL will cross that bridge again this summer.
Damien Cox thinks hockey fans should focus on the re-birth of the Winnipeg Jets and the eventual return of Sidney Crosby as we begin the new campaign. It’s a lovely suggestion, albeit a fruitless one. There’s little doubt that the debate over head shots and fisticuffs will continue to dominate the headlines, especially if another star player gets his bell rung early in the year.
Nobody wants to see players get hurt, regardless if their skill level. But as I pointed out in my previous column, we have to accept the fact that horrible injuries are simply part of the game. There’s virtually nothing we can do about it. Guys will lose eyes because of high sticks. Guys will lose teeth because of pucks to the mouth. Someday a player will probably die from a severed jugular vein or after hitting his bare head on the ice. Then what? Does that mean we’re all going to shun the game and stop watching?
As human beings, we like to think there’s something we can do to prevent all bad things from happening. But what I’m trying to say is that, there will be those rare occasions in pro hockey when players are laid out, unable to get up. Players are taught to finish their checks, and as long as they’re allowed to do so, you’re playing with fire. That fire is what attracts us to this great game.
Someone who doesn’t know or care about the game is always looking for an excuse to bash the shit out of hockey. I say the hell with ‘em. Hockey is a violent game played at a very high speed in an enclosed space by athletic, padded men holding weapons in their hands. How, exactly, are we supposed to prevent injuries? It’s easy for us to sit behind our computers and dump on a guy like Brendan Smith for doing what he did, but my point is, what he did happens in every pro hockey game. The result was catastrophic, but to me, it’s a by-product of an incredibly violent game.
If we don’t like it, we don’t have to watch. But we do. I think it’s because we like controlled violence. But that’s an oxymoron. We love fights, but we don’t want to see anyone killed in a fight. Think about how idiotic that mentality really is. The fact of the matter is that, by allowing fighting (and body checking, for that matter), the distinct possibility exists that someone will indeed get killed on the ice. How can you deny that? Yet, if we don’t deny it, why do we support that type of activity in our game? It’s because we accept the risk that fighting brings to the table. In many ways, we turn a blind eye to it.
Hockey is beautiful. Hockey is ugly. That’s why we love it.
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About Tasca's Take
Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.
Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.