That's it. I'm never attending another NHL hockey game. No more dazzling hat tricks, laser-guided passes from just inside the red line, heart-stopping breakaways or edge-of-your-seat power plays.
No more games until the madness stops. And by madness I mean: The National Hockey League still allows fighting in 2010, and that's wrong. I won't buy a ticket or accept extra tickets from anyone until the NHL bans fighting.
It won't be easy because I love watching hockey in person. But it's a stand I'm willing to make. And it's very straightforward.
What pushed me to make this resolution? Well, I just watched a fight between the Chicago Blackhawks John Scott and L.A. Kings Kevin Westgarth that occurred over the weekend at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The video is below. Watch this outrageous savagery and explain how gushing blood and blatant violence has a place inside the game. Watch the "ice girls" nonchalantly scrape fresh blood off the ice and explain how that's not a twisted scene.
I didn't always feel this way. I used to subscribe to the Old School hockey theory of "it's part of the game" and the "players police themselves." All that has ended.
I was at a Kings game last spring and my 8-year-old daughter had to sit through one of these sanctioned fights -- and it deeply upset her. The crowd stood on its feet, cries for blood were heard, and everybody watched two men circle each other before unleashing furious fists. After a few scary moments, my daughter sat down so she didn't have to watch.
I literally felt sick to my stomach. What had I done? This was supposed to be a fun night out with Dad -- not a sickening display of brutality.
Of course, in typical NHL fashion, after the fight ended and a few minutes of game clock had passed, the fighters returned to the ice as if nothing happened.
My daughter, a ravenous sports fan like her father, couldn't believe it. She knows that if two guys are caught fighting in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and soccer-- they're ejected immediately.
Why was it different here? Why no sense of right and wrong? She adored the game itself. But afterwards, on the drive home, she kept asking: Why do they let them fight like that?
I tried to explain how hockey believes fighting and brawling is part of the game, but it was a lousy, outdated answer. And this is coming from somebody who absolutely loves the sport of boxing. And my daughter has watched a little boxing without flinching.
When I asked her, 'well, why doesn't boxing upset you like this?' She said, "But that's the whole point of boxing. That's what the guys train for. This isn't."
You know what? She's right. I want you to watch this video below. For those who crave a good hockey fight, you'll love it. For those with weak stomachs, you'll hate it. But I want you to watch it and ask yourself: Why in God's name does the NHL still allow its referees to stand by and watch its players literally bash in another guy's head?
Nowhere else in the organized sports world does a referee see a fight brewing and not step in. Yet after an NHL assault is done and the blood has been scraped off the ice, both fighters are given five-minute penalties before they return anew. It's sick, it's wrong, and I can't support it anymore.
Difficult to appreciate on TV, hockey is a fascinating sport to watch live. I love a hockey arena. The precise skating, the phenomenal speed, the crisp passing -- and (yes) physical play along the boards.
But I won't ever be back. Not until the NHL says enough is enough.