Go Puck Yourself

One of the sports we don't talk much about here is hockey, mainly because only one of us actually likes it. And that one is me, so occasionally I'm going to enthral you with a little bit of hockey goodness to pass the time. Sure, it probably won't be very frequent during the Purdue football and basketball season, but it'll happen from time to time.

I'm headed to a New York Rangers game tonight (I'm a season subscriber) and I'm enjoying every ounce I can since Mrs. Money and I will be moving to Houston, Texas in a couple months and so my visits to Madison Square Garden will likely become a bit less frequent.

Yesterday, it was announced that Eric Lindros is expected to retire. He played in the NHL from 1992 until last year and was supposed to be the next Wayne Gretzky. However, Lindros only had three or four truly healthy seasons and, despite being huge and willing to fight, he had a melon more fragile than a crate of eggs. Lindros suffered at least eight concussions and in 1999 a collapsed lung that caused him to lose perhaps half his body's blood and nearly die. When he and his family spoke out against the Philadelphia Flyers, the team and the fans turned on him. He was stripped of his captaincy and eventually traded away to the Rangers, with whom he played for three years.

But Lindros is perhaps best remembered for taking a hit that, while it doesn't look terrible, was the one that gave him perhaps his worst concussion. This is a guy who loved to mix it up and hit people hard. Yet when he skated through the middle of the ice he had a habit that usually is only found in pee wee hockey in that he would skate with his head down. Scott Stevens of the Devils saw him coming, lined up up and.... ka-powie.

Like I said, doesn't look SO bad (well, until his head whacks the ice) but he was truly not right after that.

I know hockey gets a bad rap for fighting but, truthfully, fighting is not a major part of the game anymore. There's an average of less than one fight per game anymore and there are literally almost none in the playoffs. The days where a guy could make a living being a thug and just going out there and fighting no longer exist. And the majority of the "fighters" in the league today get along with one another and are some of the nicest guys in the sport. Witness this battle between two guys who clearly decided before the face-off that they were gonna go and then, note the very end when one combatant skates over and offers a handshake:

Now don't get me wrong -- I'm not a huge proponent of fighting. I think it cheapens the game and is largely unnecessary. However, most guys go out of their way not to hurt their opponent and just try to land some face jabs, etc., and get the crowd into it. It also often fires up teams, but I'm of the opinion that scoring goals fires up your team even more. But the knock on hockey for being too much about fighting is an old notion and really doesn't ring true anymore. In fact, the NHL was the first major pro league to officially outlaw leaving the bench during a fight. If you do so, you get suspended for ten games, I believe, and your coach gets suspended for five games. That's a penalty with teeth and it worked. The last bench-clearing brawl in the NHL -- which was long known for having the benches empty like in baseball or basketball -- was in 1987.

As for what people do like and, in my opinion, should like about hockey, it's the amazing scoring, incredible goaltending, end-to-end action and, of course, the hitting. Oh, the hitting. For anyone who isn't sure about hockey but does like the hitting in football, well, I'm including the below video of the best hits of last season (I'd recommend watching with your volume down b/c the music is headache-inducing). What's amazing about these hits is that the vast majority of them caused no injuries and you often can see the guys scrambling to try to get back up. But, man, these are some blasts:

So that's today's hockey fun. Future hockey discussion will be held at future, unschedule, unknown times.

Back to your regular programming.

Dear Gardner Webb

I'm Looking At You, Jaycen Taylor