Six Reasons Why a Fight Shows Hockey Has the Best Playoffs in Pro Sports [VIDEO]
Who has the best playoff in professional sports? Hockey. No doubt. And the line brawl that took place between Ottawa and Montreal in Game Three of their series proves it.
Don't get me wrong -- fighting itself doesn't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs better. It just drives home the point that nothing beats the intensity of the NHL's playoffs for both fans and players. Not football's overwhelming popularity. Not basketball's athleticism. Not baseball's tradition.
And nothing has shown that passion and intensity like the line brawl that took place between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators in Game Three of their best-of-seven series. It started in Game One when Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba injured Canadiens centerman Lars Eller with a huge hit.
Senators coach Paul MacLean echoed a few other old-timers when he said it wasn't Gryba's fault as much as it was the result of an irresponsible pass that set him up to be hit in that spot. Montreal's Brandon Prust called MacLean a "bug-eyed, fat walrus", and the war of more-than-words was on!
With the series tied, 1-1, it all set the stage for the Game Three showdown where the Canadiens wilted under fire, proving Ottawa had gotten under their skin by getting blown out, 6-1, and by dishing cheap shots aplenty, capped off by a line brawl that left a handful of players on each team's bench after everyone else was ejected.
Fans of other sports may wonder -- if a third of your team is thrown off the ice for fighting, what's left to see? A team sport where fighting is allowed? What does it prove? Why is this exciting...?
Fighting takes the steam of some out of the cheap stuff that can happen in a sport where the athletes play a fast sport with sticks. Just watch what starts the line brawl near the end of the video below. That hurts, even with padding!
That fight was a direct result of Lord Stanley's 35-pound pressure-cooker and Montreal has been roasted by it. The Senators intimidated Montreal and the cheap shots bear witness. Teams that can deal with the punishment Ottawa has dished out don't drop to that level.
From a fan's perspective, that pressure makes for a white-knuckle ride. If you're not a fan but want a taste, make a friendly wager with a friend on a hockey playoff game. Frankly, a bet tends to force you to care. So, when the game has your attention, keep tabs on how many emotional swings you go through in the course of the 60 minutes on the clock. You'll see. If that game happens to go past regulation, you'll double the emotion with each sudden-death overtime period played.
Hockey is an incredibly fast-paced game played by large men with sticks trying to control a hunk of frozen, vulcanized rubber that bounces faster than a pinball. Most of those men at the NHL level do this incredibly well.
The old cowboy phrase is "All hat, no cattle". When playoff intensity boils over in the NBA it results in a lot of trash talk, a few hard fouls and some clutch makes or misses, but that's it. Again, not that players should fight, but the level of instensity and game speed that causes a fight isn't the same. It would be similiar even without the threat of getting thrown out if you throw down. Basketball isn't that kind of game.
Besides, if it did lead to rough stuff with players around seven-feet-tall, they'd be injured more by falling than by actual physical contact.
Check out just the first minute of this ridiculous video titled "NBA Fights of 2011 Playoffs" and you'll quickly notice why it's ridiculous -- there are no actual fights!
Look, I love football. But there's a lot more downtime than playtime in the game itself -- 11 minutes of play and 67 minutes of standing around in a typical NFL game, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Sure doesn't lend to the same build-up in tension as hockey.
Football might even be a little healthier than hockey emotionally for most players on the field because, if you're frustrated, it's your whole job to go hit someone on the next play.
That, and no one is carrying a stick.
Nothing against America's Pastime, but there's a reason it's called "pastime" -- it passes the time. Nothing beats hanging out at the ballpark, but if you're looking for intensity and action, the old ballgame is the wrong place.
It should be noted that, of all the major sports, baseball is the one most prone to have a bench-clearing brawl. But it's liable to be the most exciting thing to happen in the game.