NHL GMs have signaled their intention to eliminate "staged" fights -- those fights that occur right after a faceoff. I've already explained why I don't think the new rule will work. But there's another problem with the idea: most hockey fans don't seem to mind "staged" fights at all.
Instead, many (even most) fans seem to want to get rid of meaningless fight, the ones where two guys square off for no reason beyond padding their stats and justifying their ice time.
But does every so-called staged fight that happens right off a faceoff fall into that meaningless category? No. In fact, some of most memorable fights have been "staged".
Ah well. Let us not mourn our friend the faceoff fight. Instead, let's celebrate him. Or it. Whatever, let's get to the fight videos.
Here's a hastily assembled list of my top ten fights in NHL history that happened within seconds of a faceoff. Enjoy them now, since apparently the league has decided we won't be getting any more.
#10 - Belak vs. Brashear
Let's star the list with a recent bout. Journey back with me in time, all the way to... Monday.
As you can tell by the reaction in Nashville, this sort of nonsense is just killing fan interest in the southern US.
#9 - Twist vs. Odjick
A solid bout between two of the most memorable heavyweights of the early 90s.
This fight is so staged that the shocked commentators start speaking in some weird moon-man language!
#8 - Stock vs. Peat
A pair of cruiserweights make the highlight reel. This is the highest rated NHL fight on hockeyfights.com
Incidentally, this is last time Canadian hockey fans would hear the terms "PJ Stock" and "highlights" without cringing.
#7 - Avery vs. Tucker
Sure, these two guys hate each and have a long history. But I think we can all agree that it would be far better to force them to wait until somebody actually did something during a play to cause a fight, like throw a questionable hit or otherwise anger the other team. Because neither of these guys would ever do something like that.
And yes, I'm still mad that nobody signed Tucker, Avery and Jaarko Ruttu last off-season and formed the R.A.T. line.
#6 - Probert vs. Kocur
This isn't the first Probert/Kocur fight -- that happened when Probert was still with the Wings and Kocur had gone to the Rangers. But this time, Kocur is back with the Wings and Probert is on the other side.
To this day, it still doesn't feel right to see Probert in a Hawks uniform. He'll always be a Wing. In fact, let's move right on to...
#5 - Clark vs Probert
Anyone who's familiar with this blog knew I'd find a way to work Wendel Clark into the list, even though he almost never fought right off of a faceoff. This is from Probert's much-hyped return to Canada after his drug-related legal problems were resolved. It's also the most memorable fight in the Clark and Probert series.
After this game, Probert went to the Supreme Court to ask that his ban on entering Canada be reinstated.
#4 - Crosby vs McLean
OK, just kidding...
#4 - Shanahan vs. Brashear
The brash young heavyweight champion is challenged by the grizzled, respected veteran standing up for his team. Awful. You can even hear the MSG faithful screaming their disapproval.
Not sure what Ward did to deserve that cheapshot. Probably said something along the lines of "Watch out for Wade Belak in about two years".
#3 - Lemieux vs. McCarty
Fighting two seconds into a game? How contrived and meaningless! You can even see them planning it out beforehand. Obviously nothing could have happened between these guys to cause them to want to fight.
Incidentally, the pre-faceoff chatter involved a bet that the loser of the fight would have to keep playing until he was 50.
#2 - Flyers vs. Senators
This memorable series of fights started off with a Rob Ray/Donald Brashear tilt that spilled into a line brawl. That turned out to be just the start of the fun, as a series of "staged" fights followed until both benches were virtually empty.
By the way, that clip is the most-watched hockey video on youtube, and it's not close. Apparently somebody forgot to tell over 12 million viewers that hockey fans hate this stuff.
#1 - Domi vs. Probert
This is round two. In the first bout, Domi made his name by handing Probert a beating in Detroit and then skating off the ice doing the "I have the belt" gesture. The rematch was hyped for weeks, was the hottest ticket in New York, and provided one of the most memorable moments in MSG history.
In hindsight it's a good thing Probert got the decision, since if Domi had won in front of the MSG crowd he might still be celebrating today.
RIP faceoff fight. You've provided some memorable moments over the years, and you will be missed. Just try to understand when we all have to pretend to be happy to see you go -- after all, we wouldn't want the media to call us unenlightened.