Just because I haven’t been talking hockey doesn’t mean I haven’t been following it. I have. Of course.
I love the NHL. I see that fast start Steven Stamkos and Tampa Bay are off to, the rebound the Kings have made. The absolute heater Alex Ovechkin has been on since the Caps gassed out of the playoffs last year — JUST LIKE I THOUGHT THEY WOULD.
But I’d like to turn your attention to what went down last night in Philadelphia. When two of the toughest dudes in the NHL dropped gloves and squared off in the first period. Kevin Bieksa of the Ducks. Radko Gudas of the Flyers. And the Superman punch heard round the world.
Because we know the impact MMA has had. Conor McGregor taking on the establishment and cashing that 9-figure check to fight Floyd. The Octagon and UFC changing combat sports forever. But one thing I never thought I’d ever see was two tough guys on the ice ready to throw hands. And one of them leaving his skates to land a right-hand hammer heard round the hockey world.
One punch, and one of the toughest dudes in hockey was staring at the lights wondering what hit him. One flying punch to the jaw and Kevin Bieksa just went absolute LEGEND — a 36-year-old D-man who has been dropping gloves for over a decade, breaking out a new trick to send one of the most hated young pugilists in the game to the bench wondering what in the hell kinda sledgehammer was that?
I’ve seen a lot of hockey fights: I’ve never seen a dude leave his skates and landing a shot like that: literally a perfect punch in the perfect spot and gudas was out before he hit the ice.
That’s a punch that might change hockey fights forever. That’s a punch that Bieksa was saving for Gudas, a punch that might’ve drawn a toothless smile from the entire league when they check that one out.
And say what you want about fighting in hockey, that it doesn’t have a place in the game, that it’s barbaric, that it accomplishes nothing… maybe… maybe it has outlived its usefulness… except the next person who leaves the arena when a fight starts will be the first. And the Ducks were getting out-hustled, out-shot and outscored 1-0 when Bieksa and Gudas squared off. And after Gudas picked himself off the ice and took a seat on the bench the Ducks scored SIX TIMES after that, pouring it on for a 6-2 win.
And Bieksa triggered it all. When he hit Bieksa with a one-punch Joaquin email. SINCERELY… Superman.