A great game doing itself no favors
I like hockey but I admit I don't know everything about it.
Quite the opposite.
That said, I don't think a game is supposed to start like this.
The Rangers and Devils don't like each other--a point the video makes obvious. And, the bad blood spilled Monday night in Madison Square Garden dates back to other crimes, real or perceived, that the teams committed against each other in their most recent previous meeting.
The Devils head coach chose to put a line of goons and cement-heads on the ice at the start of the fray. The Rangers coach knew what was coming, screamed obscenities across the bench to his New Jersey counterpart about the tactic--then responded in kind by loading up his lineup. The home team gets to make the final line change, and the fuse was lit.
The argument about fighting in hockey is as old as the game itself. The college game doesn't allow it and I don't miss it as I watch it. In the pro's, its explained as something that the sport needs so players can police themselves. In a game that has a hiarchy of skill players, role players and goons, it almost makes sense.
Then last night happens, when a coach sets out to orchestrate on-ice revenge--not by outscoring the other team, but by slugging it out. The game does itself no favors because scene like last night's are what will be seen most often on ESPN and elsewhere, not the 60 minutes of intense, playoff-like hockey that followed.
Sometimes, the game is it's own worst enemy. It's worse when those who are supposed to know better do nothing to keep bad things from happening.