State of Origin Canadian style: Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames

The “Battle of Alberta”, Calgary Flames versus Edmonton Oilers.

 

So there I was settling in to watch the battle of Alberta, it was -35 C outside in the Arctic Tundra, the dog was fed and I made sure that I had a blanket wrapped around me getting ready to enjoy the latest edition of Hockey night in Canada. The game was fast flowing with the usual over the top hyperbole from the commentators. Unlike the AFL in Australia, the Ice hockey (like the NBA) is on every night – there is not the normal build up for a week before a big game say like Richmond playing the Magpies or, even dare I say it, the mighty Green Bay Packers versus the Seahawks in the NFL .

 

So I had a book handy as the game started and every now and then I would raise my eyes to see a good play, a slap shot save, the goal tender’s blocking the point blank shot it was pretty standard ho hum .

 

Then it happened!!!! late in the second period BANG!!! – a Calgary flame player Tchachuk ( whose dad apparently was just as tough for the Winnipeg Jets) lined up Oiler Kassian and checked him into the boards behind the Oiler’s goal. The Oiler’s helmet flew into the stratosphere, the Calgary crowd roared, and then the Oiler retaliated with a series of rabbit killer punches to the back of the Flames player’s neck, pushing him into the ice and continually hitting him in a defenseless prone position . Tchachuk who lined up the Olier with the check went to the penalty box for 4 minutes and the guy who threw a series of punches to the player who defenseless Kassian got off free!!

 

The commentators suddenly started saying now this real hockey – but was it? As someone who loves contact sports and played Rugby at a pretty high level I find this is over the top – There is no place for violence in sport but is this political correctness gone too far?

 

Every year back home in Australia we have the same argument over and over about the overkill that is the Rugby league State of Origin in terms of the promotions showing the violence and massive hits. Let’s be honest the tribal cave man in humanity loves the violence found in sport.

 

So since that hit in Calgary now three days ago the players involved have been suspended and the media is full of people saying wow the passion is back. The game has been in the eyes of many here in Canada been revitalized. But at what cost?

 

As a Richmond tiger fan, I can remember Robbie Muir for the Saints consistently getting suspended, Neil Balme operating just inside the then rules in the 70s, Lethal Leigh Matthews doing the same in the early 80s, Rhyse Jones for the Blues thumping people virtually every game. The list goes on and of course there was the equivalent in the Rugby League: Steve Kneen for the Sharks, Les Boyd for the Magpies constantly getting into trouble. When gentlemen Jim Comans (the NSWRL lawyer) wanted to rid the then NSW Rugby league of Violence in the early 80s I remember the Wests player Bob Cooper getting 16 months for violent play and the Rugby League Week editions I bought were full of comment for and against the crack down on violence in a contact sport.

 

So in Calgary despite all the positivity, re the passion, how many games did the two players get? Two games suspension each. That’s right, two games each!! Now the next day I was talking to someone about the hockey and what was the first thing I mentioned “Did you see the hit in the Oliers game? So what does that say? Am I a hypocrite or just acting on what my humanity informs me? You be the judge?

 

Calgary 5 Oilers 4

 

 

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About Richard Marlow

a humble middle-years teacher in a “middle of the road” private school in Brisbane having being a pastor, a youth worker, a school chaplain, a bank johnnie – 3 different banks, worked in Jails, driven a cab and been in bands amongst other things.

Comments

  1. The violence in hockey got worse when the game spread to the USA in the first half of the last century, as the fans there were more interested in the fights than the plays.
    There is a tension between the Canadian fans who like the fighting and those that don’t.
    Eventually, the issues of concussion and legal liability will catch up with hockey.

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