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The Hockey News

Word around the campfire is sports video game giant Electronic Arts (Madden, NHL 08) is in talks to buy Take Two, the company which runs maverick gaming imprint Rock Star, they of the Grand Theft Auto series.

Guys, I’m way ahead of ya. I’ve already got the perfect idea for your first title.

Call it NHL Fightz – note the edginess of the ‘z’ – a game built around fisticuffs on ice.

Enforcers are some of the most beloved characters in hockey, so why not capitalize on that by making them actual characters?

The concept would be simple, akin to the classic Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out from the halcyon days of Nintendo. Your character – customized by you in terms of hairstyle, tattoos, trunk and arm size – tries to make a name for himself by battling through the NHL’s tough guys. Take on the likes of Cam Janssen, Scott Parker or Raitis Ivanans before facing a “boss” such as Brian McGrattan, Derek Boogaard or Georges Laraque.

Along with buttons for punching and grabbing an opponent’s sweater, there would be button combinations to swing an enemy around like Wade Belak does, or, naturally, jersey the other guy. The bouts would be based on the tried-and-true video game standard of a life meter and would have to last longer than the real thing, since an NHL scrap usually ends after 30 seconds to a minute.

You could even have different divisions. Sick of fighting George Parros or Donald Brashear? Try out the middleweights and give Mike Fisher or Jordin Tootoo a go.

Consider yourself old school? The classic division lets you duke it out with Tie Domi, Bob Probert, John Ferguson and Dave ‘The Hammer’ Schultz.

I’m kinda getting really excited about this concept as I write it.

Though the idea of fighting over and over may seem too repetitive for some (and mouth watering to others), each pugilist would have different strengths and weaknesses and the legendary status of games such as Street Fighter 2, Royal Rumble and Punch-Out prove repetition isn’t a bad thing in gaming.

Along with the standard fight-your-way-to-the-top storyline, there would of course be a two-player component where you could play as one of the NHL enforcers against your buddies and while we’re at it, why not a special “line brawl” online component, where you and five friends take on all comers?

This, of course, opens the door for the tantalizing possibility of goalie fights – dibs on Ray Emery!

Personally, I don’t see how this can miss. The exposure it would give hockey would be incredible. And don’t tell me the NHL or the Players’ Association wouldn’t be on board; Don Cherry has had licensed permission to sell videos of hockey fights for two decades now and other than some awkward rapping by Grapes about Steve Yzerman, those tapes were gold; any rink rat worth his salt had at least a couple Rock ‘em Sock ‘em editions when they were kids.

If the NHL was against fighting, it would ban it with automatic suspensions or expulsions, like the NBA does. Since it doesn’t, the league must be OK with fighting, so let’s have some fun and capitalize on it.

Round One: Fight!

Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to His blog appears Wednesdays and his features, The Hot List and Year of the Ram, appears Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

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