Stop tying Connor McDavid to your anti-fighting agenda

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Stop tying Connor McDavid to your anti-fighting agenda
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“Maybe fighting’s not my thing.” 

You might as well call an exorcist with the way those words are going to haunt Connor McDavid.

They’re from a September interview with TSN, in which the Erie Otters megastar was asked what exactly would get him angry enough to fight another player. McDavid said that watching his teammate, Joel Wigle, break his hand in a fight served as a caution flag for his own fisticuffs.

“Maybe if, uh, someone took a good run at me, then maybe I’d have to take exception,” said McDavid.

Soothsayer that he is, McDavid accurately described what led to his fight on Tuesday with Mississauga Steelheads center Bryson Cianfrone, in which McDavid reportedly fractured his hand. Cianfrone checked him hard and then gave him a slash. McDavid went back at him. They wrapped up, Cianfrone dropped the gloves, McDavid followed suit and starting pounding him. A punch or two missed and hit the glass. He skated away holding his right hand and went for X-Rays. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported it was a fracture.

So why would McDavid feel compelled to fight? Someone took a run at him, he took exception and, ultimately, let his emotions get the best of him.

NEWSFLASH: a 17 year old made a poor decision. And now you know why there’s a legal drinking age, restrictions on car rentals and parental oversight of educational savings accounts …

But why focus on that when that soapbox over there looks so lonely?

No, this couldn’t be a personal choice by McDavid to pound the ever-loving crap out of a bully.

This couldn’t be about a 17-year-old superstar taking an unreasonable risk during a game. It could have been sliding to block a shot or crashing into the end boards chasing a puck or skating though the zone with his head down – any of which would have injured him, none of which would have led to a protracted debate about hockey culture.

No … clearly, he’s brainwashed by hockey’s bloodlust for fighting, or he needed to prove his manliness, or, in perhaps the night’s most ridiculous declaration, it was something the scouts wanted to see. Perhaps they’re from some alternate universe where McDavid isn’t cemented as the top pick next summer.

(Speaking of alternate universes: What happens if McDavid doesn’t miss? What’s the discussion this morning? Toughness? Fortitude? An “old school” star who takes care of himself? It truly is a game of inches!)

And so we’re treated to another round of pundits fashioning the latest controversy to fit their agenda.

Damien Cox raises McDavid’s hand to end all fighting in junior hockey. Adam Proteau making ridiculous comparisons between McDavid fighting in the flow of a hockey game and LeBron James getting into a hypothetical fight in an Ohio high school game. “He would’ve been crucified in the press as a thug and a selfish reprobate,” declares Proteau, blissfully ignoring why “thug” is applied in some cases and not others.

(Please note that most of this hemming, hawing and haranguing is trickling down from north of the border, where proud Canadians witnessed their flag-bearer for the 2015 world junior tournament potentially take himself out with a self-inflicted wound. And while there’s never cheering in the press box, we’re sure this emotional demonization of fighting and its conventions in no way coincides with a fear that the best player on a Canadian team that hasn’t won “their” tournament since 2009, and watched the Americans and Russians win in their stead, could be out. No sir. Not at all.)

But wait, I'm confused, anti-fighting people: Wasn’t this one of those “good” fights? The ones born out of emotion and game flow vs. the staged sideshows we have to get rid of?

The ones between “hockey players” rather than “knuckle-dragging goons”?

The ones that, despite the desire from some to “ban” fighting at the junior level, might happen anyway, even with auto-suspensions in place?

Heh … as if any of that matters when the agenda’s been served. Even if fighting didn’t injure McDavid – his decision to fight did.

You know, they call this kid the next Sidney Crosby, but on Tuesday McDavid accomplished something Crosby never did: He fought in juniors.

Oh, Sid was poked and punched and prodded and abused in junior hockey with Rimouski Océanic, every bit as much as McDavid is. He was targeted on every shift. He’d lose his cool, but not his gloves. According to Hockey-Fights.com, Crosby’s first career fight didn’t occur until Dec. 20, 2007, against Andrew Ference in the NHL.

He hasn’t had a fight since the 2011-12 season, and considering his battles with head injuries that’s a more than understandable decision.

So perhaps this was an education for McDavid as well, to the point where he’ll follow through when he says it next time:

“Maybe fighting’s not my thing.”

Give the kid a hand. 

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