Raptor Writings: The red mist – anger in ice hockey

Originally published in the Lancashire Raptors matchnight programme 10/12/2011 vs Sheffield Senators

“Oh come on ref, are you blind? Should have gone to Specsavers!” Sound familiar? We’ve all done it, the official has made an error so glaringly obvious that you, the guy at the end of the block and your dead Grandma has noticed it. Or perhaps it’s that one guy on the opposition, you know, that one guy who seems to get away with everything. He’s just slashed your best defenceman behind the play! How does he get away with it? He’s such a goon!


Hockey is a very aggressive game; lots of crashing into each other and people skating around at 30-40mph holding deadly weapons will see the odd temper fray now and again. Fighting is part of the sport as a result some say because it’s arguably better than people swinging their sticks at each other like some recreation of the stick fighting scene from Slapshot. That fire and fury goes into the stands as well, the audience caught up in the gladiatorial contest before them. It’s fun to get involved, to get into the cheering so your team against your rivals. Make sure you do it as well, get behind the boys who go out and play in your colours!


The only problem is sadly, sometimes people go too far.


Jack Robinson’s hockey career was effectively ended after spearing an opponent in the face whilst playing for MK Thunder against Bristol Pitbulls. Robinson was suspended for 60 months (5 years to you and me) by the EIHA. The Thunder released Robinson before his punishment was announced by the powers that be.


Also this past weekend we saw the worst the fans have to offer as well. American forward Jon Pelle returned to Cardiff to face the Devils as part of the Belfast Giants this weekend. The Giants ended up winning the game 4-2 in Cardiff’s “Big Blue Tent” but Pelle came in for some less than friendly chants and was subjected to a tidal wave of abuse on Twitter. In the space of 24 hours he’s been accused of everything from high sticking a man in the face to being a money grabbing egotistical “weasel” (word changed from what the person actually said, children might be reading) and all for nothing more than he was playing for the wrong team it seems.


A song by the rock band Pillar has the lyric “we’ll give everything we’ve got for the love of the game” but that’s just the problem. Hockey is just a game. The number of tragic deaths this summer be it Boogaard, Belak or the tragedy at Yaroslavl should have driven that home but some seemed to have not learned that there’s more to life than this sport. Love the sport, cheer your team till your throat is horse and your face is blue but always remember; it’s just a game.


They shake hands at the end for a reason. It’s because the battle is over…for all of us.


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