Blood on the ice puts asses in seats. Hockey is not a combat sport in the sense that the physical domination of the opponent’s body isn’t its explicit goal, but combat is an intrinsic piece of its appeal and identity. American football and rugby similarly use the force of colliding bodies to control territory and strategic momentum, but neither sport regularly allows individuals from opposing teams to take their gloves off and rough one another up. The great cinematic stories about football and baseball are almost biblical parables about aspiring heroes and fearless leaders — “Field of Dreams” and “Remember the Titans.” The great hockey movies are entertaining romps about charming rapscallions hitting each other — “Slap Shot” and “Goon.”
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