Every goaltender at some point has seen the glamorous highlights of a NHL goalie fight. The crowd is going wild, your teammates are cheering and your adrenaline is pumping. You get goose bumps just thinking about it.
My purpose in this article is not to glorify and advocate goalie fighting but to offer reasons why every goaltender should avoid this type of conflict at all costs.
The best place to start, I believe, is to describe how these things typically get started and to address some of the explanations offered for why a goaltender gets into a fight.
The most common way for this altercation to begin between goalies occurs when your team is involved in a line brawl. One goaltender sticks his nose into a scuffle and the opposing goalie is obliged to race down and “even” things up.
The first reason any goalie will give you when asked about why they go into the scuffle is predictable.
” My guy was getting killed and I had to step in to help.”
I have rarely if ever saw a player getting so viciously thumped that I felt I needed to jump in. In fact most of the fighting related injuries I have seen are caused when the goalie escalates things and gets involved. However, if your teammate is unconscious and he is getting his head dribbled, that is a different story.
Another common reply when asked why a goaltender gets into it with a player is:
” He was in my crease” or ” He ran me”
Although it may feel right at the time, no player is ever intimidated to stop running a goalie especially if it is the 170 lb scrawny goalie doing it.
I need to clarify one point. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t a pacifist when I played and I’m not now. However, an intelligent goaltender looks at the big picture and can control their emotions. Let the players on your team who “specialize” in this area earn their money.
Now lets get into the reasons against getting into these types of altercations.
1) Effectiveness – In the smallest of percentages does a goaltender ever accomplish anything positive for themselves or their teammates. Typically all that happens is you get tossed out of the game.
2) Lost opportunity – Imagine if the game the NHL scouts came to see you play was the one you were suspended for. Is your career worth that risk?
3) Serious injury – We rarely see or hear of catastrophic injuries in fights but they do happen. Starting a string of concussions because you lost a fight is not a smart thing to do for someone trying to make a living at the game.
4) You aren’t that tough – We all like to think we can handle ourselves and are quite tough fighting wise. In many scuffles, you don’t end up fighting a 140 lb goalie. You end up fighting a 260 lb gorilla.
In conclusion, for selfish reasons and for simple intelligence reasons avoid fighting at all costs. The risk is too high for the reward.
Copyright © 2004 Stephen McKichan