The new NHL season just started on Wednesday, but star players are coming out swinging (literally), with a don’t mess with me approach. It is NHL code not to mess with a team’s talented players, and if they do teams have designated enforcers to protect them. But so far this season, the stars have been the ones taking matters into their own hands. Detroit Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk challenged Anaheim Ducks Corey Perry. Datsyuk surprised many fans at his ability to hold his own because he is a former Lady Bing winner, for the league’s most sportsmanship like player… which usually translates into being a wimp. Even the Red Wings’ opponents were talking about Datsyuk’s technique.
“I guess he really can do it all,” said Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. The Red Wings played the Blackhawks on Saturday. “He must be sick of all the trophies he’s collected at the end of every year, whether it’s the Lady Byng or the Selke awards. I’ll have to look out for him in the scrums, I guess.”
In Saturday night’s Devils Capitals game, there was a total of five fights, and Russian all-star Ilya Kovalchuk was at the helm. Devils Kovalchuk took on Capitals Mike Greene. In response, Devils coach John MacLean said, “Mike Green is one of those players trying to get something going, I guess. Ilya is a big guy. He can take care of himself.”
But Kovalchuk himself is not too worried, “Hockey is a contact sport. A fight is part of the contact. Sometimes it happens.”
Although the NHL season has just started, it is too early to tell if the league’s fighting culture is changing. In the past decade, fighting has been on the demise. With the institution of the salary cap, many teams do not have room for enforcers, but as Kovalchuk and Datsyuk have proven… they can take matters into their own hands just fine, and it makes for great TV!