I love fighting in hockey and I think it still serves a huge role in the game today. It polices the game, it gives guys an opportunity to get a call up to the NHL that they might not have gotten if it weren't for the fact that they're willing to go to bat for their team, and then of course it's also entertainment. You'll never in a million years see me write a blog about how fighting no longer has a place in today's game. I have too much respect for the guys who have the stones to drop the mitts and put their bodies on the line in front of thousands of people to tell them that their job doesn't belong in the game.
With that being said...I'm just so sick and tired of seeing every big, clean hit these days end with a line brawl. It's a top 5 worst thing about the game today. I mean just look at this reverse hit from Nathan MacKinnon. It's a thing of beauty. It's absolute textbook.
MacKinnon is just a couple feet away from the boards with his feet standing still when he sees Palat coming towards him. At that point it's either hit or get bundled. So he lowers his shoulder and drives it straight through Palat's chest. There's nothing dirty or predatory or anything wrong with that hit whatsoever. It's just a case of one guy being bigger and stronger than the other. It's a contact sport but apparently some people forget that from time to time.
So in what world should Nathan MacKinnon ever have to fight back after landing a textbook check like that? Especially when it's a tie game with just over 5 minutes left in the 3rd period. I get that maybe some guys didn't have the best angle of the hit in real time and all they saw was Palat grabbing his face but still. You see how confused MacKinnon was because he didn't do anything wrong. All he did was make sure he didn't get completely steamrolled into the Tampa bench.
Luckily MacKinnon was smart enough to just get himself out of there but imagine if Tampa had rushed him before he had a chance to start backing away. And then imagine if this were a Stanley Cup Final game which this matchup could very easily be this year. If MacKinnon gets caught up in any scrum there and has to sit in the box for any amount of time in the final 5 minutes of a tied game in the 3rd period just because he leveled a guy cleanly, that would be the biggest joke. I get wanting to stick up for your guys but at some point you need to realize that if your teammate is playing on the tracks, he might get hit by the train every once in a while. Not the train's fault.
P.S. - Tampa won their 11th straight and now I'm really starting to hate these pricks.