Before I start, let me say I'm reading a book (something I don't do often) called The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL. It made me respect enforcers even more than I already had. It's a good book if you want to learn about fighting in hockey, but it does get kind of cheesy when they keep referring to "The Code."
So lets start with a fun fact. Did you know before the 1960's the NHL did not have separate penalty boxes? Just imagine Jody Shelley fighting George Parros in a epic battle. Both bloodied up and after the fight they sit right next to each other, except for a brave little official between them. Now that would be interesting.
From the book I'm reading I came across an interesting quote I would like to share:
That paragraph has just summarized the enforcers role in hockey and why fighting needs to be apart of the game.
Most fans will be shocked to hear this, but it's true: almost every time two heavyweights get into a fight, they didn't start it. No way. It escalated from something way down the line and finally wound up in their laps. Maybe a rookie was trying to show he belongs by doing something stupid, or an agitator was carrying his stick too high. It could be anything really. And everybody on both benches knows it's coming, too. That is just the way it is. A series of events led up to that point, and the enforcers would have to end it so that the game could calm down again. And when the fight was over, it would have a sobering effect on the guys back on the bench, who could then get back to playing good, clean hockey. So, that is what we did: we made sure guys played clean because if they didn't, things were going to get ugly.- Marty McSorley
Back to Jody Shelley vs. Boris Valabik... Here's the fight occurring at 14:43 in the second period:
Here's another look at the fight, from another angle, recorded by FTF's very own Mr. K!:
Now when I first saw this fight I was very happy. I haven't seen a heavyweight battle in a while and this one was great. The fight started right after a face-off in the Thrashers zone. Both fighters grab on to each other. They both threw some jersey jabs for some time until Valabik slowed down. Both fighters threw some rights. Shelley eventually threw one right that dropped Valabik. Shelley, being a good guy, stopped punching once Valabik was down. You could also see the ref pat Shelley at the end of the fight. Shelley gets the win for dropping Valavik.
And now for a normal poll which hasn't been seen for a while: