We are like every other hockey fan in that we spend a lot of time bitching that the officials never do anything right. We’re always ready to heap scorn and outrage on some hard-working referee after we get to review his every call in excruciating detail and from multiple angles. So we’d like to take a moment now to appreciate a call made in this evening’s Bruins-Penguins game.
We were in the middle of dinner, up to our elbows in chicken tacos, when our attention was drawn to the TV by the quivering excitement in Bob Errey’s voice. It seemed that Georges Laraque and Zdeno Chara were squaring off to fight, and Errey squealed that this was the bout he’d been looking forward to for weeks. And so the two behemoths struck ye olde boxing poses, and spent a long moment sizing each other up while the officials swept their discarded gloves aside. Then they spent another long moment waving their fists at each other in what they surely thought was a menacing manner. Then they spent another long moment bobbing and weaving in nearly imperceptible, spastic torso fakes. Then they spent another long moment waggling their eyebrows at each other as if to say, “Wanna go? Let us earn our keep by our fists like men!” Then they spent another long moment wondering if they’d turned off their stoves before leaving home. Then they spent another long moment clenching their fists into ever more imposing weapons of flesh. Then they spent another long moment whipping out the financial pages of the local newspapers and reviewing their stock portfolios. Then they spent another long moment waiting for the airplanes passing overhead so the noise would not be a distraction.
What we’re saying is that they spent ages wasting time posturing like a couple of preening, pantywaisted peacocks on parade.
Finally, after everyone in the building had a chance to visit the restrooms, purchase some refreshments, head out to feed their parking meters, smoke a few cigarettes, and get back to their seats, the main event unfolded.
Oh, this massive bout was one for the ages, indeed. How many blows were landed, you ask? Thousands? Nay. Hundreds? Nay. Dozens? Nay. Ones? Nay. The valiant, massive pugilists merely embraced and fell to the ice, spent.
As is the case after these mano a mano exchanges, the two combatants were hoisted back to their feet (in this case it was less punch-drunkenness and more deep-seated, burning humiliation that felled them) and escorted to the penalty box. As is the case in these situations, they were both assessed penalties. As is never the case, the penalties in question were for delay of game.
While Bob Errey’s head may have exploded with outrage at a perceived lack of respect for the reputations of these two giants of fisticuffs, we tossed our tacos into the air and leapt to our feet to give the officials a standing ovation. Well played, gentlemen. Well played. Because, while we have no real beef with the idea of fighting in hockey, there are times when a spade simply has to be called a spade. Chara and Laraque may very well have storied histories of thrilling fights, but this exchange hardly deserved to be categorized as anything other than a pointless cessation of play during which the audience was held hostage by the egos of just two players.
(All of that said, the two promptly tried to fight again as soon as they got out of the box and Chara went down on one punch. Whatever, guys. Whatever.)