The Cornwall Comets hockey brawl on April 23, 2005 has created quite a stir in the community and has acquired the dubious distinction of being the most violent confrontation in 28 years of sport at the Civic Complex.
However, I remind readers of the Standard Freeholder that as a community, we reap what we sow. You may recall that soon after the Comets start-up, everyone was talking about the “fights” at the games. In a previous letter to this newspaper last Thanksgiving weekend entitled: ‘We Want More Fights in Hockey,’ I pointed out that that a well played hockey game should not need ‘fighting’ to attract fans.
In the Standard Freeholder at that time, there were three references to fighting, basically demanding that there be more fighting in Cornwall Comets games. The sports page, the editorial page, and even a Comets official laid it on the line back then. We want fighting in every game and not just one or two fights either! It seemed to be part of the marketing plan to attract more fans to the games.
Now, after the historic brawl at the Complex last Saturday night, the televised reports of the incident, and the ensuing police investigation, the April 26, 2005 editorial in the Freeholder condemns the game as “goon hockey” and “downright ugly.”
So, you can see what the cavalier attitude towards fighting has brought the team and the community. You cannot encourage violence on the one hand, and then condemn it when all hell breaks loose. You can’t encourage fighting one week, and then oppose it the next week.
I read Stephane Morin’s apology to the Cornwall fans for his part in the brawl. His comments are genuine and believable, but unfortunately he was the ‘enforcer’ who lost his head during the game. In his own mind he was just doing the job that he was hired to do.
There should be no question that fighting in hockey is not the way to go. Just look at the photos of the bench clearing brawl and I think you’ll agree. Is this the type of hockey that we want our children to emulate?
I am sticking to the position that I took last October. Keep violence out of the game, and let the fans enjoy the fast paced and skillful game that hockey has always been.
Encouraging fighting is to walk down a dark road. Last Saturday we saw what happens when the violence escalates. I hope the Comets organization and the media decide to take the high road next year to keep fighting out of the game.