Last night, my friend Rolf and I went to see the Laval Chiefs play the Verdun Dragons at the Bell Centre. These teams play in the Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey, billed in a recent Montreal Gazette article as “the most violent hockey league in the world”. In case you don’t quite get what this league is about, the Laval team wears the exact same uniform as the Chiefs in the movie Slapshot.
Surprise — there were 6000 fans who had paid $15 a ticket to see a bunch of aging former juniors who never made the show, and NHL journeymen who can hardly skate. Boring first period: no goals, no fights, and the teams got booed off the ice. Clearly, the league commissioner came into the dressing room and gave the teams the what for, because they came out flying in the second. At least 15 fights, two full scale brawls. With 0.4 seconds remaining, the Dragons main enforcer punched the Chiefs goalie in the head, sparking utter mayhem. Not only did the goalies get involved in the brawl, but so did the coaches and trainers. There were many ejections.
Third period: Fewer fights, on account of most of the serious goons having been thrown out. Consequently, the fans took it upon themselves — there were 5 brawls in the stands during the period, with another one getting going in the concession area as we left after the game ended. These events answered the question I’d been asking myself as I walked into the rink, namely, “why are there so many cops in here?”
This game was at least as entertaining as any given mid-season NHL clutch-a-thon. When they are actually playing, the game flows better than most NHL games, since the players aren’t very good at defence, plus the league uses tag-up offsides and no-touch icing.
UPDATE: This is too weird. John Lofranco at Maisonneuve appears to have had the exact same experience, one month ago.