During the 2011-12 season an anonymous player, we call The Silencer, weighs in on NHL issues for GGSB. In his second installment, The Silencer, weighs in on the Asham-Beagle fight and fallout.
I think everyone would agree from locker rooms, to bar stools, and media outlets that the celebration after the fight on Asham's part was wrong and to put in his own words "classless'. For how wrong the incident was, he was completely right in the way he handled the situation after the game and the apology that followed. Although I might not have been as forgiving if it had been Steve Ott or Matt Cooke. Was the reaction after the fight solely on adrenaline? I believe so and I think most players believe the same thing. Players, in general, think Asham plays a hard nosed game and is respected around the league as an honest player. As angry as a lot of people were in the gesture that Asham made, the bigger issue at stake for most people was the knockout of Beagle and the questions that arise from that situation. One of the questions that I hear is, have the nature of fights changed? For me that is a two-fold answer. The first part is that this particular incident for all intents and purposes is why there is fighting in hockey. It was a fight between two willing combatants, who were upset with each other during a physical game and a fight broke out. The unfortunate part was that Beagle was the less experienced fighter of the two, he was playing a physical in your face kind of game which he needs to play at this time in his career and when you play that way sometimes a line is crossed or you get a little carried away and you have to be ready to drop the gloves. Nobody likes to see the way it ended but hockey can get your juices flowing and your temper flaring and sometimes the only way to get it out is fighting. The second part is that some of the fights in our game seem staged or are just a sideshow, a UFC kind of event that really does not bring a whole lot to the game of hockey. Not sure that it has completely changed in that respect, but there seems to be more of it and the effects of these fights seem to be more harmful than good. Another question that has come up is that is there more knockouts now? Well like everything else guys are bigger and stronger and again there seems to be more staged fights now, with the biggest and toughest guys going at each other, which when those guys connect it is pretty scary. Now do these fights have any impact on the bench or does it change the momentum? I think it definitely has an effect on the bench. Nobody wants to see anyone get seriously hurt, especially your teammate. If it is a physical game and your guy beats up an opponent there is something that makes the whole bench feel a little taller, a little bigger and a little tougher. At the same time I am not sure it gives you momentum or makes you play better. There are times that it fires your bench up but that doesn't guarantee that we will play better. I think there are better ways of getting momentum than fighting, something as simple as a good shift in the opposing team's end can give you some. The elephant in the room question is whether we should keep fighting in hockey? I believe you do, and I think the most of the players do, as long it is for the right reasons. The right reasons would be two willing combatants who in a physical and emotional game, are upset with each other. I would rather see that, than two guys either swinging sticks at each other, running each other from behind or head-hunting with an intent to injure.