WWYDW Summer Debates: Does fighting belong in (Canucks) hockey?

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
9 months ago
Welcome back to WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet that runs as excellently as a good truck.
Speaking of truculence, it’s still a buzzword in NHL circles, and not just because Brian Burke said it that one time. The Florida Panthers just went on a Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals on little more than rambunctiousness and pugnaciousness, and the only reason they fell short was because they ran into one of the few scummier rosters in the league.
The regular season is one thing, but the playoffs are different, and in the playoffs, there’s a handful of traits that seem to be intrinsically tied to success; size, grit, toughness, and plain ol’ nastiness.
And yet, there’s also one thing that seems to largely disappear come the postseason, and that’s fighting.
Even in this, one of the most contentious playoff seasons in recent memories, there were just 13 official fights through 89 total games. The players were scrappy, sure, but they weren’t really scrapping, and that’s worth thinking about.
It’s especially worth thinking about as we prepare to turn the page onto another new Vancouver Canucks season, and one in which the team’s primary 2022/23 protectors in Luke Schenn and Kyle Burroughs are no longer on the roster.
This has, naturally, led to some debate about whether the Canucks are “tough enough” for 2023/24. And that’s a worthy debate in and of itself. But this is Summer Debates, and we’ve got nothing but time on our hands, so let’s open it up into a much bigger question that has been ongoing for more than a decade now.
This week, we’re asking:

Does fighting still belong in (Canucks or NHL) hockey?

Make your case in the comment section.
Last week, we debated:

Who is the hardest-hitting Canuck in franchise history?

Your arguments are below!
It’s gotta be Raffi Torres. He hit to hurt when that was still semi-legal.
Yup, that’s a no-brainer…
There are some huge hits in our history, from many other players, but Raffi was the most consistent in hurting people. In the end, he even knocked himself out of the League.
Gerald Diduck.
Hockey Bunker:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
Mattias Ohlund. Ohlund was an “end of the line hitter,” if he hit you it was like you ran into a wall and he dished out those hard clean open ice hits against fast players, shifty players, stars, everybody.
My favourites are the multiple times he hit wingers in the offensive zone at the blue line as they were trying to break out. Boom, game over.
Honourable mention to the underappreciated Dana Murzyn. He usually started games to set the tone, often dishing out some big hits on that first shift when the puck was in the Canucks’ zone, especially below the goal-line or in the corner. Some fans may have called him a pylon, but opposing players hated to play against him.
speering major:
It’s not Edler, but people forget he used to crush guys early in his career. I think he changed his game after back surgery.
Maybe not the hardest hitter, but nothing’s better than a Hilliard Graves Hip-Check!
Pound for pound, I’m going with Michael Peca.
Tony Smith:
I always loved watching Ed Jovanovski crush guys, and he had the fists to back it up.
Jim Sandlak. “The House.” Look up “Sandlak hits Davydov” 🙂
Lots of big hitters to choose from.
But the two that are neck and neck at the top are Michel Peca and Raffi Torres. They would litter the ice with other players’ equipment on a regular basis.
They played fast and vicious, and if you weren’t looking up, you got put to sleep.
Andrew Alberts would have been, if Bettman didn’t hate him so much…
Seriously, though, you have to say Torres. If you had your head down, you’re playing with your life.
Peca was another, but nowhere near as consistently deadly.
The best hit in Canucks’ history is the Trevor Linden hit on Jeff Norton. The force of the hit shattered the glass into thousands pieces and Norton was propelled right into the laps of the fans in the first row of seats.
Overall, Raffi Torres provided the big hits on a regular basis and was feared by the opposition.
Stephen Tang:
I think the award goes to Jim Sandlak … think his nickname was either “Refrigerator” or “House” for that reason! The king of jarring open ice hits has to be Mike Peca.
Earl Martin:
He didn’t hit a lot, but the most explosive hits were made by Bob Dailey. That may be because he was huge for the era he played in, but when he hit guys they flew backwards.
I don’t think the Canucks have had too many guys that struck fear into their opponents. Peca might be one. Linden would finish lots. Edler and Ohlund got into the mix. Torres was decent here, but he didn’t do it all the time — he stands out for his efforts during 2011 Cup run. Jovo was good. Lots of guys were good, but none really stand out.
I guess I’m going to go with Linden as he played hard most nights and brought it. Others had bigger hits, but I don’t think the rest did it as often or as consistently as Linden did it in a Canucks uni.
Brian Phillips:
Good discussion. Lots of good ones. I’m giving my vote to Dave Babych. He was so strong he would stand up forwards at the blueline, and it was like watching someone sprint full speed into a tree. Raffi Torres runner-up.
Alan Hans:
I’m going with Cam Neely, a small sample size here in Van, but overall, his hits were epic!
Pavel Bure launched Shane Churla into another dimension.

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