Interesting read about the Penguins’ Bobby Farnham, the life of an NHL grinder, and the role of fighting in the NHL.
There’s another way of looking at hockey fights. It isn’t just about protecting the stars, really, but more so about allowing non-stars to stay in the game.
Hockey players and coaches love lesser-skilled brawlers who get called up because they’re willing to do whatever it takes. They love coaching and being teammates with guys who care nothing for themselves and only for the team, and fighting allows players like that to stay in the sport, all the way up to the pros.
Farnham isn’t 6-foot-7. He has ability, but he doesn’t possess rare vision or skill. He’s a normal-sized guy who made it because he was willing to work harder than anyone else and sacrifice his body.
Watching Farnham, who is an exceptional athlete but still human, is very different than watching Crosby or Malkin. A normal person could never be Malkin. But there is a reality, maybe one in a million, where he could be Farnham.
Farnham and other hockey fighters, the scrappers who work hard and chew up minutes on the fourth line, they are the ones who make hockey greatness attainable, and for that, we love them. We demand players like them, even, because without guys like Farnham there’d only be slick-handed skill guys and me-first goal-scorers and fast, technically sound, levelheaded defenders and who wants any of that?
Fighting exists so that guys like Farnham can exist. In that way, it is beautiful.