I'm going to preface this article with a 100 percent honest statement: I think fighting in hockey positively contributes to the game in more ways than one.
I think it creates excitement. I think it creates a type of loyalty between players and among fans that makes the game intriguing. Who hasn't stood on their feet at a game asking their guy to take an opponent out? Strength, and let's be honest again, a type of violence, is a part of the game we've come to know and love.
I'm also going to say this: Bench clearing brawls are entertaining. I love to see the passion in players that makes them get up off their bench to go help their fellow players and to stand up for their teammates. This is why I admire what Pittsburgh's Eric Godard did on Friday night.
Godard saw a guy, New York's Micheal Haley, going after Pittsburgh's goalie, Brent Johnson, and knew that someone had to step in. Haley skated down the ice to challenge Johnson while the refs were busy dealing with a brawl at the other end of the ice.
Forwards don't go after goalies. Neither do defencemen. It's an unwritten rule and code of NHL. While Johnson has proven he's more than capable of taking care of himself, the behaviour of Haley was completely out of line.
Knowing his teammates on the ice were more involved in the big brawl down by the Islander's net, Godard took matters into his own hands.
I understand why Haley wanted to make a statement. He's a recent call up from the Islander's farm team. Guys who don't have the skills of players like Sidney Crosby, Taylor Hall and Jonathan Toews often try to provide a physicality to their play that makes them fan favourites and shows coaches that they're willing to take and make the hard hits to play the game they love.
But Haley had nothing left to prove. He had already taken down Max Talbot seconds prior to his altercation with Johnson. His team was humiliating the Penguins on the scoreboard. He disgraced the game and he disgraced himself.