While watching Sunday night's Penguins-Blackhawks game, the second period offered a glimpse into why hockey needs to have fighting as a part of it. Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik hammered Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews with a legal hit that leveled Toews into the boards and ice. Toews left the ice in obvious pain, holding his left arm and did not return to action.
While Orpik is a heavy guy who plays a heavy game, the Blackhawks did not engage in a retaliation to defend the play against their Captain and one of their key players on a roster that has already lost Patrick Kane possibly until the beginning of the playoffs. It is not a case where Chicago doesn't have the type of player who will engage in such an act, either. Brandon Bollig, Sheldon Brookbank, Bryan Bickell, Brent Seabrook, and Andrew Shaw have all dropped the gloves for the Blackhawks in their time with the club. Shaw attempted to confront Orpik, but to no avail.
But with two teams who have already locked up spots in the playoffs, where is the mentality that although every point matters, wouldn't it be best to lay off the top guys?
It wasn't evident to Orpik and it called for an answer from the Blackhawks which did not come. Why? The Blackhawks are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and have been less than impressive in their past eight or nine games. And now you lose your Captain for who knows how long and there's no response? That can't happen.
Understandably it is a different game from the time when players were strictly on the roster to be enforcers, goons, hitmen, etc. But there is still the room for players to police themselves on the ice. That is why the league only gives players five minutes to think about what they did in the penalty box rather than suspend and fine them like every other major sports league. Players advocate for the fights to stay in the game each and every year, because each year the question comes up.
The fights should and will stay a part of the game, Chicago missed the memo Sunday night.