Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Thank You Brian Burke

I’m sure that it wasn’t intentional, but Brian Burke’s recent outburst may be a positive thing for those who want to see fighting taken out of the NHL.   He expressed his disappointment in the demise of the enforcer in the league when he announced the demotion of Colton Orr.   It was widely covered by the press and galvanized a lot of people who responded with a significant amount of comments that it’s time to take the goons out of the game.

In case you missed the story, you can read about it here.

Burke’s comments about the “rats taking over the game” made me think about Ken “The Rat” Linesman, one of the dirtiest players in the game.  He could certainly play, scoring 92 points in 1981-82, to go along with his 275 penalty minutes.  But he was a master at the spear, the slash, tripping behind the play and once was charged with kicking a player in the head with his skate.  Linesman played in an era when enforcers roamed the NHL freely – and it didn’t stop him from carrying on with his garbage.   The goons don’t make players accountable; they just slow down the game and take up a valuable roster spot.

If you review some of the 40-plus publications and media outlets that picked up the feed of Burke’s press conference, you can get a sense of the fan’s views by reading the comments after each article.  Below you can read a few of them – admittedly I have only included those that support my viewpoint – but it’s my blog:

“Change happens all around us and it's time to get this fighting nonsense out of hockey all together. Time to focus on skills and leave the fighting to the WWF and other brainless sports.”
  • “Burke ought to know that "accountability” is in the hands of the Refs, and more recently “Mr. Shanahan"- where it ought to be.”
  • “It strikes one as just a little bit perplexing that the hockey traditionalists still believe that the presence of a so-called 'enforcer' on the ice is somehow going to strike fear into the hearts of the 'rats' who take liberties with the rule book”
  • “As long as fighting remains a part of hockey, the rats have already taken over the NHL, the only major professional sport where fighting does not result in immediate expulsion”.

Burke probably did more for this issue than anyone else in the past few years.  He came across as a bit of a dinosaur, moaning about the good old days when players policed the game with their fists.   The fact that he “didn’t care what other sports did” showed inflexibility in facing where the game is going.   Overall there were many more journalists that were negative on Burke’s stance than there were agreeing with him. 

I have read through the comments on about 10 websites that carried this story (CBS Sports, National Sports, ESPN, Vancouver Sun, etc.) and I was heartened to read a lot of positive comments like those above.  Fans – real hockey fans – want to see the NHL ban fighting.   We just need to collect the power of collective speech and action, and we can accomplish that goal.

1 comment:

  1. Burke's comments, while disturbing, were actually a deliberate smoke-screen. Burke had signed Orr to a big contract and Orr simply couldn't play in the NHL. Rather than admit publicly that he had made a mistake, Burke made his big speech about "rats" and deflected attention away from his gaffe in signing Orr in the first place.
    Nonetheless, Burke did reveal his support for the type of dinosaur thinking that prevails in the NHL.