Hockey Enforcers: Between A Rock and a Hard Place

Hockey enforcers were born in order to add just a little more gusto to the game of ice hockey. Their job is to be the tough guy, the one that they fear in order to prevent any false telling of a play to the referee. This list of hockey instigators is a long one…

1) Stu Grimson

2) Rob Ray

3) Terry O’Reilly

4) Bob Probert

5) Tiger Williams

And the list continues…

Our world today has warped the sport watcher’s perspective on violence within games. What difference is there in brawls outside of a game and in one? Hockey enforcers are put in a difficult situation. Take this article from CNN for example:

Hockey enforcers have died. In fact, their history isn’t exactly a positive story. They’re placed underneath a spotlight for all of the NHL community to see. Their career, their love for the game, and their personal beliefs and ethics are put on the line. Many enforcers are unhappy and to the worse extent, depressed beyond belief, that regardless of their wants, they have to fight. They commit themselves to violent acts for what? Because they want to or because they have to? According to the CNN article, George Laraquat hated to fight. He was a hockey enforcer that was pressured into doing this job that continued to make his life a jail cell. He was trapped within a sport that he fell in love with and here it was spiting him for everything he was worth. As many call it, it was a love hate relationship.

Take this quote from Laraquat: “It’s the night before, the day of the game, before it starts,” he said. “It’s the shivers that it gives you, the worry in the head and the brain. It’s when you go to a movie and you can’t watch it because you’re thinking the next game about having to fight Derek Boogaard or someone like that. Or you don’t feel well, but something happens and you have to go out there. … It’s that pressure that’s nonstop that you live with.”

In what way is this right? To take away a man’s belief and throw it out the window? Is it right because the crowd loves it and it’s “just a game”? There are three sides to this story. One side are the spectators, who want this so bad they bang in encouragement. Their love for the game of hockey feeds off of a rush of adrenaline that is picked off of the competing players. They see no long term effects to this, they just want to see a good beating. The worse, the better.

The second side is the hockey enforcer. They’re living a lie to themselves and to the world as they know it. Men that drown themselves in alcohol as a solution to numb this feeling of loss and detachment from the outside world. They have the respect of the fans, but for nothing more than because they can throw a good punch. Long term effects contribute to many enforcers’ deaths, ages ranging from early 20s to late 30s. A short life lived due to a few seconds of entertainment.

The third perspective is the NHL business. The attraction is a money bringer. They thrive in the millions that are brought into this national business. Is hockey not the same without the on ice fights? To throw out the sentiments of the players, to turn their heads when an enforcer dies, to look down when it’s clear that what many cheer on is wrong…is it not clear that a player’s ethics are being ignored? Their life is an expensive pawn. Hell with their happiness, bring in the money.

The debate runs on…to have enforcers or to not have enforcers? To have fights or to not have fights? The death list won’t be stagnant for long. The need for violence continues to increase quickly. Has culture molded a love for human ferocity? How does this affect our ethical behaviors in everyday situations?

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