Al Capone has no place in the NHL
Not to keep picking on my hometown Post-Gazette, but this latest column by Bob Smizik about why the Penguins don't need to trade for an enforcer got a little off track.
By 'off track,' I mean 'batshit crazy.'
On the topic of Georges Laraque's potential usefulness to an NHL team, Smizik writes:
The most famous enforcer in history never skated a shift in the NHL. Frank Nitti, known as "The Enforcer," helped Al Capone rule the street of a lawless Chicago some 70 years ago.
Um, alright. Cool. Maybe I'll Wikipedia Frank Nitti next time I'm bored at work. So how bout that hockey?
The police might not have been able to maintain order, but Nitti, legend has it, could. Nitti and men of his stripe were necessary in that era because the police often were bought off by the mob and subsequently had no power in controlling the criminal element.
Not only is this sentence way, way off topic from anything having to do with hockey, it also makes absolutely no sense. He's saying that because the police were bought off by the mob and had no power, Al Capone had to hire an enforcer to keep order? Is he saying Capone would have relied on the police to keep order in the mob world? Also, wasn't he the one buying off the police? Let's wait and see how this ties in to hockey.
Does the NHL really want the league compared to Capone's notorious Chicago? By suggesting their teams need enforcers, NHL coaches and general managers have made that a fair comparison.
As far as I'm aware, enforcers have more or less been a part of the NHL game throughout its entire modern existence, and I cannot imagine any human being with any shred of a rational ability to comprehend anything who would therefore compare the league to the Chicago mob scene of the 1920s, aside from the liquor bootlegging operation that Theo Fleury probably ran. Holy shit, NFL teams look for linebackers who hit hard?? That's exactly like the fucking Marines! By suggesting that teams need guys who hit hard, the NFL has made that a fair comparison.
The NHL is not Chicago.
Agreed. As far as I know, Chicago hasn't had an NHL team in more than a decade.
It has honest policemen. They're called referees and linesmen. It's their jobs to enforce the rules and they're good at it. They're not perfect, but they're good. Lawlessness does not reign in the NHL. Enforcers are not needed to make the participants abide by the law.
While I agree that the need for the traditional talentless enforcer has all but vanished from the NHL these past two seasons, surely there's not a GM or a hockey fan in the world who doesn't see the benefit to acquiring a notorious tough guy, especially when a Cup run consists of four best-of-seven series within which rivalries develop, vicious physical play occurs, and momentum is constantly thrown back and forth. Rather than concede some kind of rational acknowledgement towards this fact, Smizik spins off on this quarter-baked analogy to Al Capone, then ties it into the NHL by saying referees are honest policemen and therefore, somehow, that means teams don't need guys who can hit, fight, and retaliate.
If, say, Joey Porter and Troy Polamalu do not know how to skate, athletes of their ability easily could be taught. Once they can skate in a reasonable fashion, suit them up. If NHL players are going to blink at the thought of facing retaliation from Laraque, they'll be cowering at the prospect of Porter coming after them.
STEEEEELERSSSSSS!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!! HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!! WOOO!!! WOOO!!! HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!! WOOO!!! WOOO!!!
Now that's an analogy I can understand! Smizik is so right! Screw Laraque, let's fucking TEACH JOEY PORTER HOW TO SKATE!!! Why has no NHL team ever thought of that??? If Smizik just said this right at the top, I would have understood his point immediately, it could have been a three-sentence column!
It's too stupid to comprehend.
I could not agree more, Mr. Smizik. Could not agree more.