When it comes to the continued presence of the goon in hockey, we have only ourselves to blame.
We have made the notion of the goon amusing. We’ve turned them into cartoon characters. “They’re great guys! They’re so popular in the dressing room!”
On Monday, the New York Times profiled Washington’s Tom Wilson.
On Tuesday, Wilson broke Zach Aston-Reese’s jaw and concussed him.
Goons are criminals, not hockey players. They go on the ice to menace and provoke fear. Their job is to hurt people.
If they did that on the street, they would be arrested. Nothing is amusing or fun about a goon.
But yet, we romanticize.
We rate the best fighters. The Hanson Brothers are still a thing. Gordie Howe was a great player, but old-time hockey proponents tell stories about Howe breaking somebody’s face with an elbow, then laugh about it. What’s funny about breaking somebody’s face with an elbow?
I mentioned the Hanson Brothers. Maybe that’s where this started.
The move “Slap Shot” made violence in hockey funny. But what happened to Aston-Reese isn’t funny.
Goons aren’t good people. They’re goons. They have no honor. You can’t have honor, or respect for your opponent, and do what Wilson does.
If hockey won’t get rid of them, let’s at least see goons for what they are: No-talent lumps of excrement that substitute violence for actually being able to play the game.
One of those no-talent lumps of excrement regulates player safety in the NHL. When he played, George Parros had no function besides endangering player safety.