MacIntyre and Vukota Discuss Fighting in the Game

| Jason Feigel

The Last of the Enforcers

The last time Steve MacIntyre tuned in for three full periods of NHL hockey was the final game of last year’s Stanley Cup final. The man known as “Stevie Mac,” a 6-5, 250-pound titan, regularly protected teammates when hits got out of hand. He was Howe’s hero growing up. He was a hero to plenty of other youngsters, too. He hardly recognizes the sport with so few players like himself on the ice.

“I hate to say it,” he said, “but the game I grew up loving is a game I no longer watch because of it.”

It still boils MacIntyre’s blood to see a player “taking liberties” on the ice and not having to answer immediately for it. Each team deserves to have a player like him to take care of it, says the former Edmonton Oiler, Florida Panther, Pittsburgh Penguin and Utah Grizzly.

The powers-that-be at the NHL have handcuffed guys like MacIntyre, he said, and unfortunately are weeding out that spot on the roster. The number of fights per game in the NHL has dwindled drastically over the last decade. According to HockeyFights.com, over 41 percent of NHL games featured a fight during the 2008-2009 season. Percentages have dropped every year but one. Just 25 percent of games see two fighters tangle so far in 2016-2017.

The main draws of hockey are the goals, the saves, the hits — and for some, the fights.

MacIntyre’s last year of professional hockey was in West Valley City with the Grizzlies in the ECHL. One of the most notorious fighters in hockey history said he’d choose to go to an ECHL game or NAHL game over lower-bowl seats to a primetime NHL game any day of the week.

“Those guys were trying to play their guts out to get that next step,” he said. “Me, as an old guy, I was just trying to look out for these young little farts.”

One of the NHL’s all-time tough guys, Mick Vukota, doesn’t believe fighting needs to be a spectacle, but it has its place in the game.

“It’s not professional wrestling,” said the former NHL and Grizzlies enforcer, “but I do believe that the passion of the game should evoke emotion. Sometimes you get pissed off and you fight. The rules allow it.”

More great quotes and stories in here. Well worth the read.