“Thrashing is as ambivalent as abuse changed into praise. There is no pure abstract negation in the popular-festive system of images; it tends to embrace both poles of becoming in their contradiction and unity. The one who is being trashed or slaughtered is decorated. The beating itself has a gay character; it is introduced and concluded with laughter.” - M.M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and his World
The laugh is a key to understanding the festive-beatings of time past: as a liminal stage of praise and humiliation, in other words laughter symbolizes a break in everyday world rather then being part of the world. Just as the festival of fools, the 'hockey fight' has a gay character which is introduced by the cheering laughter of the fans in the building. It is not a normal beating (in the course of the game, like a scrum) but it is outside the world of the game. The humorous roar of the crowd and the two circling combatants signal a break in the world of the game, and what occurs exist outside the game. It ends with another roar, as well as friends slapping each other on the back and laughing in enjoyment/disappointment around TVs around the country.
Like the beating that occurred in medieval festivals, the 'hockey fight' shares another characteristic: that of both death and regeneration. The blood and pain very much symbolize the death of the fighter, while the ability to regenerate your team (bring them back to life) is inherent in the 'hockey fight' as well. Bakhtin links this to the fact that beatings where attached to the fertility of the marriage beating and intercourse: I am just going to let you use your own imagination and the image of grown men wresting around on the ice. While this is not an rigorous examination of the beatings of the carnival and the 'hockey fight' I think we can see the continuity of the festival in the sporting event.
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Well here are the last of the stats I created last year: PiM/GP and PiM/60. This time I sorted them by position and ranking of PiM/GP, even though I think PiM/60 is a better reflection of both its use to judge fighters and to examine which non-fighter/pest take too many penalties. Those which will be back are in bold and the question marks in italics.
So what can we learn about this:
- First, Gilbert is the least penalized player twice in two years. This has value: we have a Dmen entering his prime, that does not take penalties (either Lazy or Aggressive) which harm the team. I am assuming next year, Gilbert will be on the PK (actually I would hope he might make second tier PK since we are going to sign at least one veteran defender, right Tambo?) and this low PiM/60 means he will be available more often then not to attempt to kill them off.
- Second, Johnson should not be signed: we have multiple players in the same PiM/60 (around 2.5ish) and every one of Johnson's penalties were Lazy (not one Aggressive penalty in 19 games with the Oilers). Smid, Whitney, and, possible Strudwick, all demonstrate the same amount of interest mixing it up using aggressive penalties (Whitney +0.05, Strudwick +0.01, Smid -0.08 differentails while Johnson has a -0.42!), but they actually fight and sucker-punch opponents.
- Third, our forwards grit needs to be addressed. Of the players that averaged over 1 PiM/GP or 0.1 PiM/60 (and we will add Jones since he is close to these numbers in a very small sample size), only Zorg has the ability to stay healthy. JFJ and Blarney Stone have excellent numbers for middle-weights or pests (see judging of fighter last year), but all of them- plus Zorg- are clearly out of heavy-weight PiM/60, but their AP/60 and differential would have them close to the top ten of last year. I won't harp on this since this will be one of the next posts in this series. The problem is that most of these four players are injury prone and we need more of them.
- Fourth, I like Brule/Cormie/Gagner's numbers. We got some small players with moxy. Granted Gagner's AP numbers took a significant dip this season, but he still has more APs the Penner (at least 50 lbs his senior). Comrie and Brule add a little skilled grit to the line-up, and this should be under consideration for next year. I really think that Brule has the ability to turn into a second liner offensive pest: which is something this version of the Oilers will need in a couple years. I'd be worried of an overpayment, but if he keeps tracking well on his Pts and AP/GP numbers next year he is well on his way.