I Went To The Fights And A Hockey Game Broke Out (Writer’s Workshop)

I followed hockey for a little while when I was in seventh and eighth grade. Never played it myself, because I can’t skate, and I’ve only been to one NHL game in my life (in 1970, Blackhawks vs. Canadiens). If there’s nothing else on TV besides hockey, and that happens to be where Mary stopped flipping around (she controls the remote in our house about half the time) I’ll watch it. Mary likes to read romance novels about hockey players (*ahem* to all you romance writers) and likes to watch them skate.

blackhawks-logo
Chicago Blackhawks logo, copyright Chicago Blackhawks (source: Amazon.com)

Thinking back on it, I wonder whether I was all that into the game or if I just wanted to see the players get in a fight and beat the crap out of each other. The Hawks had an enforcer named Keith Magnuson who did a better-than-average job of getting in fights. All of them did, to varying degrees, but Magnuson was exceptionally good at it. He managed to rack up 1,442 penalty minutes, many of those for fighting. He played ten years, and managed to spend over two games’ worth of minutes in the penalty box each year.

In the almost-30 years we’ve lived in Atlanta, we’ve had two hockey teams (the IHL Knights and the NHL Thrashers), neither of which is here any more. The Knights played here for four seasons before moving to Quebec, where they were the Quebec Rafales for two seasons before folding. Most notable about the Knights was that that they had Manon Rhéaume, a female goaltender who played 24 games in her seven-year IHL career. The coach of the Knights was Gene Ubriaco, who played for several years with the Blackhawks, mostly as someone who would serve bench penalties. The Thrashers were here from 1999-2011 and are now the Winnipeg Jets (the second incarnation). Before that, Atlanta had the Flames from 1972-1980 before they up and moved to Calgary. Suffice it to say, Atlanta isn’t a hockey town. Wasn’t much of an anything town when we moved here, come to think of it: the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks were all pretty awful when we got here. (The big cheer at Braves games was “Go Braves! And take the Falcons with you!”)

I only follow baseball now, the White Sox and the Braves. There isn’t a whole lot of fighting in baseball, but when it happens about seventy guys end up on the field, with both benches and bullpens clearing. There have been a few doozies, but I’ve only been at one game where a fight blew up. Back in 1968, Bill Melton of the White Sox slid a little too hard into Dick McAuliffe of the Tigers at second base, and McAuliffe, who had a temper problem anyway (in baseball terms, he was a real red-ass), took exception. Both benches and bullpens emptied for that one, but surprisingly, no one got thrown out.

I could go on, but there ain’t enough time…

The prompt was “Write a blog post inspired by the word: fight.” How’d I do?

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

26 thoughts on “I Went To The Fights And A Hockey Game Broke Out (Writer’s Workshop)”

    1. The great thing about being at the game is you don’t have to listen to the announcers talking nonstop. I like to listen to baseball on the radio. You can do other things while you listen to the game. I felt the same way about hockey, especially in the days when they blacked out the Blackhawk home games on TV.

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  1. I like the Blackhawks of Kane and Toews, but I preferred Hull and Mikita in the 1960s. I played defense for three years in Wilmette League and went to Tam O’Shanter Summer Hockey School near Toronto to be taught by NHL players. It was fun, but I quit when I hit high school and everyone got bigger than me.

    There’s way more fighting today than there was when Bobby Hull won the Lady Byng for least penalty minutes / sportsmanship. But there have always been enforcers.

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    1. There haven’t been too many 5’9″, 140 lb. defensemen, either then or now. The Hawks of the Sixties were legendary. Only won one Stanley Cup, and that was in ’63, but they had some great players: Bobby and Dennis Hull, Stan Mikita (who now suffers from dementia, by the way), Jim Pappin, Whitey Stapleton, Pit Martin, Eric Nesterenko, Glenn Hall until expansion, Tony and Phil Esposito (not at the same time), Gilles Marotte, etc. etc. And Magnuson was a fantastic enforcer.

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  2. Never got into hockey but watched a few minutes of “Slap Shot” the other day when hubby was flipping channels (he ALWAYS controls the remote here). I know it was an exaggeration but yeah, lots of fights. Good work on the prompt!

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  3. I can’t say that I’ve ever watched an entire hockey game. Watching the puck makes me dizzy – it’s so small and fast, the cameraman does a good job, but it’s like my eyes can’t keep up. I can’t imagine watching it in person.

    I prefer baseball. I like the slowness, and the fact that I can do other things while it is on the TV. In person, I watch as the strategy of the defense takes place (not always presented well on TV).

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    1. TV broadcasts focus almost entirely on the pitcher and hitter and don’t show what’s going on in the infield or outfield until something happens there. Occasionally you’ll get a split-screen that shows the pitcher on one side and the runner on the other, but that’s more confusing than anything. And I notice that with a fly ball to the outfield the cameramen tend to follow the ball instead of the fielder. They don’t do it on a popup, they shouldn’t do it on a fly ball, either.

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  4. Love your title. That’s a great line. I have only been to one hockey game. Too intense for me. Everything fans love about the game, just made me anxious!

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  5. Love your title! I’m not a sports fan at all so can’t really make any relevant comment about hockey. Except that it’s big news here in Vegas because we just got a hockey team (Golden Knights) and a hockey arena built. That’s all I got. Enjoyed your post, though!

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  6. Great post! I am not a hockey fan. I am a fan of football, golf, Nascar and tennis. Atlanta is an interesting city for sports, meaning the teams. They are pretty middle of the road, but it takes time to make the big time. I was hoping the Falcons would win the super bowl.

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    1. I think you can say that about almost any multi-sport city. The Falcons at least got to the Super Bowl, while the Braves had a pretty lousy season (though things are looking up) and the Hawks are doing all right, but not lighting the world on fire. Before that, you had the Braves with all their divisional wins, while the Hawks and Falcons weren’t very good. It’s cyclical.

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  7. We don’t really watch sports, though I have seen a stray Super Ball here and there. Many kids look up to sports figures, so I think modeling a attitude of good sportsmanship is quite important. Especially in light of the general trend in our society to cope with issues with violence, even killing. (And thanks for leaving a comment on my Chocolate Memories post.)

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  8. Wait, they make romance novels about hockey players? That’s actually pretty funny. Let me tell you about my son – Green Machine 16. He’s 8 and a ladies man. No, he really is.
    He says “Mom, I don’t get it. The womenS love me. There’s Olivia B and Kaitlyn and Samantha all fighting. They say that they’re my boyfriend but I only like one womenS. That’s all you’re allowed to have.”
    It cracks me up.
    He’s never been in a single fight at hockey although he spends time in the box. He doesn’t like it when you rough up the goalie πŸ˜‰
    Anyways, baseball fights are something though eh? I get a kick out of them all rushing the field or when they kick dirt at the umps. It livens the game up a bit. It’s a good summer sport. Go Tigers!

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    1. Did you ever see the Tigers when Sparky Anderson was the manager? He was a classic. I guess any manager will put on a show when it’s needed. The current record for being thrown out of games is held by Bobby Cox of the Braves; he overtook Earl Weaver of the Orioles in his last season.

      Surprised you haven’t seen the hockey romances yet. Mary likes them. I guess romances now include all sports; she was reading a baseball-related romance and was asking me about some of the jargon (e.g. “what’s the infield fly rule?”). I can’t help her with football, though…

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