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CAPACCIO: Fine, call me a goon

By Sal Capaccio
Twitter @SalSports

OK, you can call me a goon.
Or a thug.
Hooligan.  Animal.  Even small-minded.
Whatever fits, I’m it.  I guess.  Because I admit it.  I still like watching fights in hockey. 
Don’t mistake.  I’m not even saying I don’t mind them.  I actually like them!  I get excited when I see one about to go down.  My adrenaline starts pumping when the gloves go off and two guys square off.  I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, no matter the team he plays for.  And I’m not cool with outright attacks on unwilling or unsuspecting participants.  But two guys who know the deal and are willing combatants?  Let’s get it on.  Line brawl in Vancouver? Give me more camera angles.  Goalies going at it?  Fun stuff.
I know.  I’m a brute.  Go ahead and say it - to my face!  Because people like me only want to fight you, and see fights.  Sure.  We don’t appreciate the game for its artistry and skill.  OK.  We don’t care about the long-term health of the players who make it such a great game.  Whatever.
Or maybe we do, yet understand there’s always been an element in the sport that also makes it unique and, yes, violent.  I’m not only ok with that, but actually miss the types of battles I used to see as a kid that got me to sit up in my dad’s recliner.
There aren’t as many fights anymore.  But when they happen, I get that same rush.  In fact, I still enjoy the anticipation of a “here-we-go” situation.  After all the talk following Milan Lucic running Ryan Miller a couple years ago, everyone knew something would happen the next time the Sabres and Bruins met.  I wanted to be there, and was.  And early in the game, when Lucic was on the ice and Paul Gaustad jumped over the boards, I couldn’t wait.  The adrenaline started pumping and the smile showed up.  I think my own fists may have clenched and raised an inch or two.  Here. We. Go.  It didn’t matter the result of that one, I might as well have been fifteen years old again, watching Kevin Maguire take on Jay Miller in the playoffs. 

If that makes me a thug, I’m guilty as charged.  But I don’t think it does.  It just makes me a fan.  A fan of the game no different than the guy who hates fighting and wants it gone forever.  Like many fans do now.  Like many media members do.  Like a lot of the people within the game.  Like many former players, even those who made their living (and a good one) getting punched in the face every-other night.
I understand why those people want fighting gone completely.  I just don’t agree with them.  If it happens, I’ll still watch the sport, of course, with no less interest than I have now.  But I’ll miss it.
And before you comment below or tweet me something about setting examples for kids, or what you’re supposed to tell your child when he or she sees a fight, or question how I could possibly take this stance as the father of a newborn who someday may want to play the sport – let me address all that right now.
It’s simple.  I watched a lot of hockey growing up.  Saw a lot of fights.  Yelled at the TV or while in the stands at the game for whatever Sabres player was fighting to “beat the crap out of him.”  And I turned out just fine.  I have a college education, a job I love, a wonderful wife, and a happy, healthy baby boy.  I didn’t become a mass murderer or even a wife-beater or child abuser. 
I understood these guys were doing something that was (even then) a small part of the game, was often part of their job, and that they understood what they were doing.  It didn’t mean I wanted to do it every time my buddies and I put a street hockey game together.  In fact, just the opposite.  I saw fights and knew I never wanted to be the guy involved in them.  I hoped to never get my face punched in, and had no desire to try and do that to someone else.
When it comes to sports (and frankly most things in life, like drawing, which I’m horrible at), I enjoy watching people do things I can’t. And more interested and entertained watching people do things I’m unwilling to do.
I like watching hockey fights and make no apologies about it.  I want fighting to stay a part of the game. 

So, call me a savage.  I’m fine with that. 
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some bench-clearing brawls in baseball to watch on YouTube.

Follow me on Twitter: @SalSports


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Topics : Sports
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Locations : Vancouver
People : Jay MillerKevin MaguireMilan LucicPaul GaustadRyan Miller