The sad part about the incident in Harbour Grace on Saturday night is that that particular brand of nonsense will continue to happen just as it has for the last 40 years simply because the fans take the game — and it is just a game — far too seriously.
I’m not saying Glen Legge deserved a water bottle off his noggin, but I can’t help but feel he is partly to blame for his own injury. If he had simply watched the game, cheered on his CeeBees and gone home out of it, he would have escaped injury. But he didn’t, choosing instead to join a group of man-children who wanted to continue “razzing” the Blades as they left the ice on their way to the dressing room. And yes, I’m aware that if it wasn’t Legge it would be someone else — maybe a child or senior — leaving S.W. Moores bleeding that night.
But that itself sheds light on a bigger issue in senior hockey; what is acceptable conduct for fans? I don’t mind people cursing on a referee or opposing players and coaches, I’ve got something of a potty mouth, too. But some people — generally those who have had a few too many cups of draft — take it way too far. And they do so without any regard for the other fans around them, families, seniors and those who want to enjoy the game without some boorish fool shouting in their ear all night. The only way to curb that is for the teams, arenas, leagues and Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador to determine what’s acceptable fan behaviour and what’s not and enforce it. Strictly. Otherwise, you’ll be reading about incidents like this 40 years from now.
Had a chance to catch up with Randy Pearcey not too long ago, and the Hall of Famer offered up some interesting comments on a few subjects relating to the Avalon East, the Blades and senior hockey overall:
On the last place Bell Island Blues, who have just one win this season: “There’s a place for them, maybe in an intermediate league or something. But they can’t play at this level and it takes a lot away from this league.”
On the one-fight rule, which sees a player ejected from a game after a fight: “It has to be discretionary,” Pearcey said. “The ref can made the decision to toss a guy for fighting, but if he gets jumped, it’s not a fight on his behalf. If you see a guy goading another guy into the fight, throw him out.”
On Steve Pearson, a healthy scratch for the Blades’ last number of games: “He’s got to buy into a system of defensive-offensive hockey. He’s a great offensive player, but he’s got to be responsible in your own zone.”
“There’s a place for him on the team, but he’s got to come with the attitude that if the coach wants me to play D, I’ll play it. I’ve got 21 players who’ll play any position to win a Herder. If Steve is that way, he’ll get to play. If not, he won’t.
“A team is better than one player.”