In the War Room with Warfel: Time to turn your eyes to the Stanley Cup playoffs


By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

With the Stanley Cup playoffs for hockey set to start today, is the time when I will stand on my soapbox and say hockey is, in fact, the most aggressive professional sport.

The only other sport I think comes close to the level of aggression is hockey is rugby and while rugby certainly has professional leagues, it is not as well known as hockey.

Fans of football might argue and say you have guys running into each other just for a ball.


For people on the football train, let me give you just one reference as to why hockey is more aggressive than the NFL.

In 1989 in a game for the Buffalo Sabres against the St. Louis Blues, Sabres goalie, Clint Malarchuk, had his throat cut by a skate.

Now, there is footage of the 27-year-old bleeding out on the ice on YouTube for those of you who don’t believe me, but if you’re squeamish of blood – I would not advise watching it.

His throat being cut required 300 stitches and just 10 days later, Malarchuk was back on the ice for the Sabres as a substitution.

I cannot recall an instance in any other sport when a player received such a devastating injury and returned back to the sport, let alone played 10 days later.

Malarchuk said he had nightmares and struggled with depression after the incident and I am in no way heralding him as the poster child for toughness in the NHL, however, the NHL is a league full of men who do not care and many hockey players lose teeth playing the sport.

If you ever feel insecure about your smile, just look at pictures of hockey players smiling. If they have all of their teeth, they are likely the goalie.


Hockey is also a sport where fighting is not uncommon. In the MLB, if a brawl happens, everyone is put on notice. In the NBA, both players, when caught fighting, get suspended. This is not the same in hockey.

In fact, in the older years of hockey, there were players teams would deem as their “enforcer,” who would be the guy who would pick a fight if the other team did something to hurt your team.

Fighting is considered a major penalty in hockey, but since it takes two to tango in a fight, both players normally end up in the box, thus negating the advantage of having extra players on the ice for either team when a penalty is called.

For fans wondering what sport to turn to after the NCAA men’s basketball championship game, I would highly recommend turning your television to the hockey playoffs later today.

Looking not just at the aggression of the sport as a whole, but the intrigue behind some of the teams in the playoffs themselves – you have the Blues, who were in last place by points in the NHL on January 3, but with the help of their rookie goalie Jordan Binnington, and a franchise record 11 game winning streak, they are in the playoffs.

You have the Las Vegas Golden Knights in only their second season in the league playing to avenge their loss in the finals to the Capitols last year.

You have the Tampa Bay Lightning, easily one of the best teams in all of hockey this season.

Regardless the storyline or team you want to follow, for fans looking for another playoff like the NCAA tournament to turn to with the MLB season still young and the NBA still having a little more than a month left, look no further than the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Adam Warfel, Sports Editor, can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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