The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL, by Ross Berstein

This book was pretty good in that, I really had no feel for what is happening on the ice when a fight breaks out, and, as the title implies, how retaliation works.  After finishing The Code, I think I have a much better idea.  There are great stories from former (and current) NHL-ers, as well as a history of fighting in hockey.  Discussed are the ethics of fighting in PeeWee, Juniors, and College hockey, as well (Spoiler:  It’s really not tolerated).

I did enjoy the book.  The only thing that I had a hard time with was that there were several points that were overstated, or at least stated too many times.  I should have written down an example of this, but I’m not really being paid to do this, so I didn’t have to :).  It just felt like there were several times that I was reading the same thing, over and over, almost to the point that it felt like the book had a page-limit quota.

But, on record, I’ll go down as having really enjoyed the book.  It was quite eye-opening.  One of the most important things I learned is that (from the author’s perspective) fighting is oftentimes useful for defusing what could be a more dangerous play on the ice (such as high-sticking or boarding a player who’s head is “not on a swivel”).  Another thing that’s interesting to note is that sometimes a fight that occurs on the ice is used to solve the differences of completely separate players.  Example:  A skilled guy from another team checks a skilled player he’s playing against, dangerously, into the boards, such as (in my case of interest- Logan Couture).  Couture might not be in a place to fight and he might be too valuable to fight.  Instead, a tough guy from San Jose, like Douglas Murray or Scotty Nicol will take on one of the opposing team’s tough guys.  Even if neither player was involved!  This settles down the game and puts things back in order.

Being a relatively new hockey fan (I’m going on about 3 years of intense interest), this kind of stuff helps me to make sense of what happens during a game.  I recommend the book, but you might have to push through parts that seem to be rehashed.

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