The NFL used to be the most violent of the four major sports in America, but with advent of new rules to protect quarterbacks, helpless wide receivers and the overall prevention of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the league has become soft.
Of course you have to acknowledge that boxing and mixed martial arts are the most violent sports in the world, but that’s the whole point isn’t it? It’s specifically designed around pummeling your opponent to the point of a knockout.
But has the NHL surpassed the others as the most relentlessly violent of the four major sports?
In the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” trailer – a film directed by Quentin Tarantino that takes place in 1969 with the Charlie Manson murders as the backdrop – there’s a moment when infamous martial arts legend Bruce Lee says to stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), “my hands are registered as lethal weapons. We get into a fight – I accidentally kill you – I go to jail.”
It’s true on the streets, but which sports can you do that and escape scot-free?
But if the same thing happened in the MLB, NFL or NBA, when you consider that two players fighting each other isn’t allowed – they could get brought up on manslaughter charges if they accidentally killed their opponent.
But in the NHL, that wouldn’t fly because taking off the gloves and throwing down is a part of the game. Sometimes it’s silly and uneventful, but occasionally you’ll see something incredibly violent with thousands of fans chanting, encouraging it to happen.
That’s what happened when a 19-year-old Andrei Svechnikov of the Carolina Hurricanes egged on 14-year veteran Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals into fighting him during Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.
The youngest player in the NHL playoffs goaded Ovechkin into fighting him. You can see the moment when the Capitals’ future Hall of Famer gives him a look saying, “are you sure you want to do this?” And then you can see Svechnikov nod yes.
They exchanged blows, but clearly Ovechkin overpowered Svechnikov and actually knocked him out. It was so bad that not only was he knocked out and not only was he in concussion protocol, but they had to take him to the hospital.
You can watch the video here. And it’s important to note Jason Mcintyre clearly doesn’t know anything about hockey because in the NHL, this is perfect legal.
Ovechkin knocked this guy out. In the streets this is assault and arrested and maybe jail timepic.twitter.com/5llQ4lKFG0
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) April 15, 2019
Svechnikov made the biggest mistake of his life challenging Ovechkin in that moment and in a perplexing twist of fate; the young Hurricanes player – a native of Barnaul, Russia – grew up idolizing the Capitals star.
Why would he want to fight his favorite player? To establish some weird form of street credit? To show masculinity and prove his worth to his idol? It’s very bizarre.
Needless to say, most fans believe he got what he deserved.
Here are some of the funny responses to the video.
Charmin soft pic.twitter.com/d0HakLsuiN
— PKO (@PK01972) April 16, 2019
Dood… 😬😬😬 pic.twitter.com/IdcqjrVTdK
— KELLY V. 🏒🎶🎙🎸🛫🏝🇯🇵🇹🇭🏈⚽️🏌️♂️🎾🚵♂️🏊🚣 (@RecklessKelly77) April 16, 2019
— Mike Van Zuiden (@vnzdn1) April 16, 2019
Except the guy who got knocked out literally asked for the fight.
— Patrick Lahr (@PatLahrDC) April 16, 2019
Quick lil’ google for you. It’s not assault with two willing combatants. pic.twitter.com/FGcm6P89JL
— Oil Demon Darryl J (@DJordatron) April 16, 2019
Ovechkin was empathetic to Svechnikov after the game when he said, “First of all, I hope he’s OK. Yeah, I’m not a big fighter, and he’s the same. He asked me to fight and said, ‘Let’s go.’ I hope he’s OK. You don’t want to see a guy get hurt or something. And you just go a different way.”
And it goes without saying that Ovechkin accidentally killed him then he wouldn’t be charged with manslaughter.