News Blog: Don’t mess with Texas… or the NHL

Adam Proteau will return April 2. In his absence, the The Hockey will feature several guest bloggers. Up today is editor Edward Fraser:

• Any one of the eight teams that make the playoffs in the West could make the final and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash, but for plenty of reasons there’s a lot to be said for the Dallas Stars.

The Dave Tippett-led squad, 8-1-1 in their last 10, plays the perfect style to be successful in the playoffs and if Marty Turco can finally shake his post-season jinx and the blueline can stay healthy (“Hey, has that bubble-wrap suit come in for Norstrom yet?”) it could be a deep run in the deep south.

When they’re all in the lineup, no team has a better, deeper, battle-tested defense corp than Dallas. And when coupled with a defensively-responsible group of forwards, all of whom buy into a well-coached system, it makes for a team that can win 1-0 on any given night (something the Stars have done on four occasions this season), a fact that grows more important with each passing round.

Simply put, the Stars, who walloped the lowly ‘Yotes by an unconverted touchdown Tuesday, have given up the fewest goals in the NHL this season and, if my ol’ book of sports clichés reads true, defense wins championships.

Only slightly less important than the man between the pipes and the team’s dedication to stopping goals is the fact no one seems to be taking the Stars very seriously, drowned in the pool of ink given to the Preds, Wings, Sharks, Ducks, Canucks and, recently with fervor, Wild.

A team given little respect is a team motivated. A team paid little respect is a team most dangerous.

If the Stars came up against the Sabres, the odds-on favorite in the East is one of the few teams Big D doesn’t matchup well against. But it would be a fitting finale with Buffalo having an opportunity to finally wash away the eight-year-old memory of Brett Hull’s skate.

• Holy overreaction, Batman (check the spelling, I mean the fictional winged nut who fights crime, not the functional wing nut who fights for the good of the game owners).

One guy, who, according to the number of metal plates holding his face together, isn’t all that skilled at chucking knuckles to begin with, gets his block knocked off and we’re holding candle-lit fighting protests outside the UN?

Come on.

Is this really that big of a deal? Or any more of a big deal than it was last week, a year ago, or even 10 years ago?

I really couldn’t care less about fighting in the NHL and, if I can extrapolate the findings from our recent puck poll to serve my own point, I would suggest more than a few fans are right there with me.

I love violence. The bloodier the better. But the reason I’m not all for regular hot goon-on-goon action is because hockey fights – excuse my colloquialism – pucking suck.

If I want to satisfy my blood lust, I’ll cue up the latest mixed martial arts match (see UFC).

I’m not going to turn away from the TV when the gloves are dropped on the ice, but it just doesn’t excite me to watch two well-trained, 6-foot-5 guys who look like they belong in the film 300 twirl around on skates for 45 seconds.

It’s true a spontaneous tussle between two players motivated by passion rather than justifying their paycheck is marginally more entertaining, but it still can’t hold water versus the true blood sports.

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All that said, I don’t buy the suggestion the NHL will gain more fans if the league abolishes (or cracks down on) fighting; nor do I believe the sport will fall apart with unchecked high-sticks and elbows as far as the eye can see if they do.

It’s the referees’ and chief disciplinarian’s job to keep these acts in check, not the players’ job to police themselves.

My sole internal debate regarding fighting concerns the growth of the game I love so much. And right now I believe it would do more harm (via the loss of current and potential fans) than good to get rid of it, so I say hurrah for the spectacular status quo.

If you insist on something being done, let’s work Mike Brophy’s framework for change. The only idea intelligent, non-woe-is-me idea I’ve read in long time.

Yes! Thank you! Someone finally takes us seriously. I have heard so much about how the Stars will flop because of A) Their lack of offense (we actually have 4 guys who could finish the season with 20 goals) B) Our goaltending (If Turco doesn’t pull through, Mike Smith was brilliant in last years AHL playoffs) or C) Our health. (I can’t argue there, we must be the only reason hospitals in Texas stay alive). This time, however, we will disprove everyone and go a long way. How we’ll fare against Buffalo in the Finals, I’ll leave it to you to decide.
– Josiah Hunter

About time a hockey writer outside of the Dallas Morning News said what Stars fans already know. I only have two remaining concerns about the Stars – their lack of intensity early on in many games and whether or not Turco and, if needed, Smith can hold down the fort when it counts. If those two issues are resolved, see you in the finals.
– Alex

Fighting is insignificant compared to the mean-spirited intent-to-injure hits that are given in center ice and against the boards. Fighting, almost always, involves only two, usually willing, combatants….
– Dale Spencer

your comment on if you want to see fights watch ufc.the mass huge majority of dont want to watch fights on ufc,we want hockey fights,because ufc dont have hard body checks,goal scores making sweet awsome goal,goaltenders making sweet save,defensmen protecting there end like junk yard protective junk yard dogs,those all some of the reason the mass huge majority dont want see ufc fights,the mass majority of fans are warriors and will never change.i now you wont print this because its only going to be what you and savard want,not what us mass majority wants.reallity check,the sport is not really going to grow that much if there is fights or there is no fights,because there just isnt simply enough ice rinks in the us for the sport to grow.reallity check,when there was a lot of fights all arenas did not sale out,last couple o f years there hardly any fights still they dont sell can we please stop hearing all the bitching and complaining and just play hockey and have fun,like the old days please!!!stop making gary bettman feel bad for listning finally to the mass mayority of fans that love passionly the fights.thanks
– kevin