Posted on: February 5, 2011 11:16 am

NHL Fights vs Hits in the NFL

On Wednesday, February 2nd, I watched the Pens v. Isles’ game. As a Penguins’ fan, I loved watching this game, a 3-0 victory with Pittsburgh’s two best players out with injury. It was at times a chippy game with a lot of minor cheap shots from both teams … at other times, it was downright violent. It’s hockey, people, it happens! Especially when one team is dominating the other …


Near the end of the game (16 seconds left), Islanders’ goalie Rick DiPietro deemed it necessary to step out of the crease and take a cheap shot on one of the Pens as he skated past. The unwritten ‘CODE’ of hockey states that a goalie is not to be engaged unless by the opposing team’s goalie, so a scrum ensued involving many players from both sides while DiPietro leaned on the goal and laughed. It was at this point that the Pens’ backup goalie, Brett Johnson, who had played lights out all night, took matters into his own hands. He skated to center ice and called DiPietro out. To his credit, DiPietro slowly skated out to meet Johnson, while discarding his equipment. What happened next will be celebrated in Pittsburgh for years to come, and vilified by opposing fans and those who decry hockey altogether. Johnson knocked out DiPietro with one left hook!


I have to admit, Johnson earned my respect. If you cheap shot someone with 16 seconds left, in a game that has already been decided, you have to pay the price … and pay the price DiPietro did. It’s unfortunate that he will miss many games with facial fractures, but what if his cheap shot had injured the Penguin who was innocently skating by? Frustration is not a good excuse for DiPietro’s actions.


Cory Giger, writer for the Altoona Mirror and host of ‘Sports Central’ on ESPN Radio’s local affiliate, posted a blog on Facebook written by Bob Smizik. With all due respect to Cory, who apparently agreed with the blogger, the article is a complete farce. Either Smizik is not a hockey fan or he has some kind of agenda. In his blog, Smizik uses a fairy tale example involving the Packers and Steelers in the Super Bowl in which Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers meet at midfield to duke it out following a cheap shot by Rodgers taken on Troy Polamalu during an interception return. He is attempting to make the point that professional football involves more civilized participants than does hockey. Mr Smizik, this is complete garbage.


Hockey is the only professional sport in which each and every player carries a weapon at all times (their sticks). If one watches closely, there are constant cheap shots taken using these weapons. Players are slashed across their hands and wrists, they are cross checked from behind, they are tripped and whacked across their ankles and feet. While these incidents do not always cause injury, the constant repetition of these hits does take a toll. Unless each game is reviewed and swift punishment is instituted for every stick related offense in the forms of fines and/or suspensions, there will always be fighting in hockey. Sound familiar?


Allow me to compare this to football. James Harrison of the Steelers has become the poster boy for hitting related fines in the NFL. Whether or not you are a fan of Harrison or the Steelers, one must admit that not all of the hits that resulted in fines were worthy of such punishment. If one watches the replays closely, it is easy to see that there were times when the player on the receiving end of said hit ducked his head at the last instant, AFTER Harrison had begun his tackle. It is my opinion that if the NFL continues on this course of action, the game will change, and not for the better.


I watched many, many, MANY professionall games over these most recent decades. One thing became clear to me, and to any observant fan, was that the players ‘policed’ themselves. If a defensive player took a shot that was perceived to be cheap or overly violent by the opposition, that player had better place his head on a swivel for the rest of the game, for the offensive linemen of the offended team would surely be taking retribution. Men like Conrad Dobler of the Cardinals, Mike Webster of the Steelers & Jim Langer of the Vikings would seek out the ‘offender’, and literally truck him into the ground or clothesline him as he rushed the passer.


Whatever happened to REAL MEN in the NFL? When these O-linemen were taking care of their own, you saw less cheap shots, less devastating injuries and significantly fewer concussions. This leads me to ask two questions. First, should both leagues change everything that has made them a great watch for the fans? If you answer yes, then perhaps you should contact your local cable provider and request ‘The Twiddlywink Channel’! Second, could the NFL learn a lesson by taking a page from the NHL? ABSOLUTELY! Police yourselves and allow the suits in the league to worry about the Collective Bargaining Agreement so we don’t lose football!


All of which leads to my final prognosis ….

LET HOCKEY ALONE! They are doing just fine …..



(my signoff seems inappropriate after THIS blog! Lol)

Category: NHL
Tags: NFL, NHL
Posted on: February 13, 2010 9:24 am

2/13/10; What Now? (Post Super Bowl Rut)

We are now one week removed from Super Bowl XLIV. What now?

Twenty-five years ago at this time, I would be in a rut. I might be watching some NCAA College Basketball, I was REALLY into Duke back then. The NBA could hold my interest for half a game or so. If it was an Olympic year, like this year, I would catch some of that as well. I rarely watched hockey, heck, it was rarely on TV anyway. I would not be all that interested in The Daytona 500, although I would watch a few laps and try to catch the end of the race next week. Perhaps a little PGA golf would make its way onto my set. And even though the Pittsburgh Pirates were going through a downslide, I would be paying attention through my local sports page (The Altoona Mirror). There were periods when some of my friends would rent a court and we would play a little hoops, but as far as spectating, I guess my main interest at that time would have been catching AAHS boys and girls basketball games as they neared post-season play.
Post Super Bowl RUT? YES

Twenty years ago was even worse. College and NBA basketball held about the same place in my heart. There was more hockey on the tube and Mario Lemieux finally was getting some help. The winter of 1990 was a prelude to the back to back Stanley Cups the Pens would win the next two seasons and this was the first time I really paid any attention to the NHL's regular season. It would be another five years before I developed any interest in NASCAR beyond the 'catching a few laps' mode. And even though the Pirates were playoff favorites during this time, I paid little attention to the off season. Even local high school sports held little interest for me during this period.
Post Super Bowl RUT? YES

Ten years ago, I began to find sporting events that grabbed me during the winter lull. I had finally started getting into NASCAR racing and looked forward to Daytona nearly as much as the Super Bowl. I finally had the internet, so this time of the year was full of paying attention to everything that was going on in MLB leading up to Spring Training. I watched every Duke basketball game that was on the air, which led me into watching more games of many varied teams. The NHL was in its own lull for me personally, Mario nearing the end and Sydney Crosby not even on my radar yet. But, I would begin to chart the NFL draft within a week of the Super Bowl. I watched quite a bit of golf and had somehow morphed into this guy who loved watching the Winter Olympics. My kids were getting to that age, and I was spending time watching and coaching my son play basketball in addition to taking him to local games. Truly, my children filled the void for the most part.
Post Super Bowl RUT? Yeah, I guess I still had it

Now I find myself in 2010. I have absolutely no interest in the NBA at all. College basketball does not hold my interest for long either. As I age, I find the lack of discipline and teamwork to be a shameful development in the sport. I still enjoy watching high school basketball when there is no "I" in "TEAM". I am paying some attention to everything leading up to Daytona, but it does not hold a place in my life or heart that it once did. Golf has become boring if they are not playing in a Major Tournament, so this time of the year is bland. I am no longer that guy who charts the NFL draft constantly, I'll wait until a week or so before the draft.

So WHAT DOES hold a former sports junkie's attention as I face middle age?

I am VERY into The Winter Olympics. For some reason I find the winter portion of 'The Games' to be more interesting than the The Summer Games. I love watching hockey now, and not just the Pens. As I age I find this game to be refreshing, I guess it's the fact that even though there are 'superstars', no team is successful without involving the WHOLE TEAM. I am watching what is going on in baseball, every team. And yes, I am the eternal optimist, hoping and praying that this is the year the Pirates break through and win at least 82 games. And lest we forget recruiting for NCAA football!

The thing is ...... I am soon turning 46 years old. I am remarried with six children between us. I have my work, and dreams of starting my own business. I find myself starting to plan where I would like to live when all the kids are self sufficient (Myrtle Beach, here I come). My priorities have changed. I still love sports, but there is just so much more to life. It took me all of this time and one failed marriage to learn this. If it sounds pitiful or stupid that it took me so many years to get to this point, please do not judge me. I have friends, and know of many others, who are so locked into sports that it takes precedence over everything else. I look outside of my home here in Central PA and see a driveway that badly needs attention after three feet of snow has fallen while I have been at work all week. There is college and high school issues concerning the kids to deal with. And I still need find time to make sure that my wife knows that she is the most important person in my world.

2/13/2010, Post Super Bowl RUT? I love the NFL & The Super Bowl, but I know that there will be another year (God willing), and football will return. I don't even miss it. So ......

In a rut? Well, yea. Snow, snow, snow and work, work work will do that to a man. But not because of sports. Please take my advice, if you ever find yourself in a rut because your favorite sports season has just ended, open your eyes and look around. The worst 'RUT' one can ever find themselves in is the type that isolates your world .... and as great as sports are, there is so much more out there.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com