Cam Janssen could've been somebody. He could've been a contender for the top hockey enforcer of his generation, maybe even putting his name on a list with the great fighters such as Tie Domi, Joey Kocur and, of course, the Grim Reaper himself, Stu Grimson.
Instead, his sport went all peace-love-and-happiness on him, the pansies in the league office making tough guys like him increasingly unimportant. So now Janssen, a kid with
endless guts and a mean right hook, rides the Devils' bench most nights.
Janssen weighs in as well...
"You take (fighting) out of the game, it's not going to be hockey any more. It's going to be soccer with sticks!" Janssen says. He is 22. His lip is swollen from a teammate swiping him in practice. "At least now, a guy knows if he take a run at somebody, he's got to step up and pay the piper.
"The guys will go crazy if there's no fighting," he says. "The fans will go crazy, too."
The NHL thought limiting fighting will make the sport more mainstream. It would be hilarious if it weren't so sad. The nerds who run this sport figured without the brawls, some little old lady in Peoria would find Versus on her cable system and declare, "I'm going to give this beautiful sport a try!"
The result, like much of what Gary Bettman has done, is the opposite. Attendance is down in
several markets, and they'll need a breakthrough in nanomathematics to compute recent TV ratings. The lack of fighting is not the main reason, but the farther this sport gets from its roots, the closer it gets to irrelevancy.