Landing a clean shot like this rarely happens in a hockey fight…
You can fight in hockey. You’ll get a penalty for it, of course, and an extra one if you instigated it but you can do it. The act of fighting will not lead to a multi-game suspension as what would happen in other sports.
Rarely do hockey fights yield highlights that MMA or combat sports fans are going to find newsworthy but Kevin Bieksa might have done just that last night. The 36-year-old from the Anaheim Ducks has clearly dabbled in some MMA training.
Fighting in Hockey
Many sports fans don’t understand how fighting has become a regular part of hockey in North America. The international game rarely involves fighting and when it does, it usually involves players from North American leagues.
Fighting became a way for teams to protect their stars in the first half of the 20th century. Teams could target the best player on the other team and attempt to take him out of the game by slashing, hitting dirty, or any number of dirty tricks. In response, teams started to employ “enforcers” to stop dirty players from going after the team’s top scorers.
For a few decades in the NHL, every team had an enforcer who would usually just fight the other team’s enforcer. Now with the expanding knowledge of concussions, however, efforts are being made to eliminate fighting from even the North American version of the game.
A Normal Hockey Fight
Most of the time, hockey fights are harmless. The dangerous aspect of a hockey fight is usually not the person coming at you but the possibility of falling and hitting your head on the ice.
In general, most hockey fights involve each guy grabbing onto the wrists, jersey, or shoulder pads of their opponent. The result is two guys throwing tiny punches which are about 90% wrist.
In some instances, however, two hockey players have decided to forgo trying to pull the other guy’s jersey over his head and just had a stand-up boxing match on skates. That’s what happened last night during a game with the Anaheim Ducks and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Check out this video of Kevin Bieksa landing a superman punch on Radko Gudas of the Flyers in the tweet below:
Bieksa one punched Gudas with a superman punch pic.twitter.com/C6arqp7PMC
— Wheeling Problems (@wheelingprobs) October 25, 2017
Kevin Bieksa Lands a Superman Punch
Here it is again from another angle:
Kevin Bieksa superman punch pic.twitter.com/r8PZs3jchF
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 24, 2017
While Bieksa isn’t putting his whole body into the punch as you would normally see an MMA fighter do, it is about as good as you can expect him to do on skates. The footwork normally associated with striking is a little different on a sheet of ice.
Longtime NHL enforcer, Georges Laraque, has been known to frequent Tristar gym in Montreal. George St. Pierre played hockey growing up in the city as most Canadian kids do as well.
The most notable former hockey enforcer currently involved in MMA is Steve Bosse. While Bosse never made it to the NHL he played professionally in the North American hockey league for 7 years while also fighting professionally. He retired from hockey for good in 2009 and currently has a 2-1 record in the UFC.