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Patrick Hruby

Atlantic Sports Roundtable: the NHL, violence and ratings

National Hockey League playoff ratings are up. So is violence within the sport. Coincidence? In this week's Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we tackle the question:

Patrick Hruby: ... Hockey fans like violence. So do the people who play and run the sport. This is no great secret: just watch "Slap Shot." The NHL fined Weber a whopping $2,500 for bouncing Zetterberg's head like a basketball; Nashville coach Barry Trotz publicly praised the play; the team's promotions department reportedly put out a celebratory head-smash video and dubbed the practice "Webbering." So it goes. Gary Bettman and company have never seriously cracked down on fighting and brutality. The league might be dumb to put teams in places like Phoenix; it isn't stupid ...

Hampton Stevens: ... Let me also note the wild irony of how the NHL should be celebrating, toasting their new ratings boom, but instead found the black fly of controversy in their chardonnay. This week the NHL's COO told the Globe and Mail that his office is getting complaints from angry sponsors—especially in Corporate America—who don't want their products associated with the extra-legal violence on ice. In other words, thuggery is hurting the game ...

Jake Simpson: ... The near-universal approval of the fight-filled first week of the NHL playoffs, from fans to coaches to Patrick himself, is honestly mind-boggling to me. I didn't grow up with hockey and I don't consider myself particularly violent, so maybe I'm just not the sport's target audience. But I watch hockey because the fact that a goal (a rare and valuable commodity akin to runs in baseball) can be scored at any moment is thrilling. I don't watch to see hair-pulling, or cross checks to the throat, or absurdly tone-deaf excuses by the increasing numbers of players who appear hell-bent on seriously injuring their peers ...

Read the full article at the Atlantic Online