I cannot say if this is universal but after witnessing a particularly fighty hockey game we Canadians will say to one another the water cooler the next day, "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out".
In our nation, having grown up weaned on the great sport of hockey, it is no thing for us when a fight breaks out on the ice. It must seem mighty savage to someone new to the game. Of the half dozen major sports in the World hockey is the only one where fighting is considered part of the game. And when coaches want to send a message to the other bench they send out their fourth line and the club's enforcer will deliver it, physically. Brett Harvey's film Ice Guardians explores the controversial role of the enforcer in professional hockey.
Exploring one of the most controversial and provocative positions in the history of sport, ‘Ice Guardians’ journeys into the lives of those who perform what is undoubtedly the toughest job within the National Hockey League today, the enforcer. Very few understand this position and even fewer appreciate what is involved in becoming one. It’s a punishing profession unlike any other, holding little mercy for its candidates on or off the ice. Born out of self policing a game where 200 pound men fly towards each other on metal blades with sticks, the role now finds itself facing the scrutiny of national newspapers, on-line blogs and TV news casts. Due to its violent nature, it has drawn opinions from both fans and critics alike. But what do we really know? What led to its spectacular rise? What purpose does it serve in the eyes of its beholders and what drives them forward in the face of adversity? Ice Guardians steps beyond the hype and heads directly to the source of the debate… the players themselves. Through their eyes, tough exteriors are shed to reveal the humanity behind a role that struggles to maintain its existence.
Ice Guardians is coming to VOD this Friday, March 7th from Upstream Flix and we have two clips to share with you below. In one clip retired referee Ron Asselstine talks about the delicate balance of dealing with enforcers on the ice, especially after a bout. In the other clip one of my personal favorite enforcers former Vancouver Canuck Gino Odjick reflects on his role is getting fellow enforcer Marty McSorley into Los Angeles to protect Wayne Gretzky.