x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

NHL turns a blind eye to bare-knuckle brawls

One of the more popular videos in the hockey world this week was of a brawl between the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs that culminated with their goaltenders trading punches.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller exchanges blows with Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier during the third period of their pre-season game at Toronto on Sunday. Frank Gunn / AP Photo
Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller exchanges blows with Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier during the third period of their pre-season game at Toronto on Sunday. Frank Gunn / AP Photo

One of the more popular videos in the hockey world this week was of a brawl between the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs that culminated with their goaltenders trading punches.

When two well-padded goalies do battle, it usually resembles a couple of dancing mattresses. Good for comic relief, apparently.

In this case, Jonathan Bernier of the Leafs, who raced across the ice to fight, and Ryan Miller of the Sabres, who seemed a reluctant combatant, actually landed a few blows. Fortunately, neither was hurt.

Naturally, it amused the broadcasters, who laughed, and the crowd, which roared its approval.

No one seemed to care that a bout that preceded the brawl and the goalie duel ended with the Buffalo rookie Corey Tropp being carted off the ice, bloodied, with a broken jaw and a concussion, courtesy of Jaime Devane.

To some of us, such celebration of the calculated violence of bare-fisted boxing in the middle of this otherwise spectacularly entertaining sport is quite puzzling.

Is not hockey dangerous enough? But fighting, obviously, is culturally ingrained, and the National Hockey League doesn’t seem inclined to eliminate it with huge suspensions, as per the National Basketball Association.

All we can do is note that this was a pre-season game, and the players were simply getting ready for the real thing.

May they all be luckier than Corey Tropp, headed for surgery and out at least five weeks.

sports@thenational.ae