Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dec. 2, Clash of the titans

From "The Hamilton Spectator", Dec 3, 1992.
Unlike many other heavyweight fights, this was certainly one battle that lived up -- or down, depending on your point of view -- to its advance publicity.

And while last night's epic scrap between Detroit Red Wings' tough guy Bob Probert and New York Rangers' resident pit bull Tie Domi was the lead item on nightly sportscasts, the reviews won't be nearly as favorable from NHL president Gil Stein.

Domi stirred up a controversy earlier this season by telling the Toronto Sun he was planning a rematch of his Feb. 9 bout with Probert at the Garden. Stein warned against the fight, but Probert and Domi were on the ice shortly after the opening faceoff and squared off at the first opportunity. Probert cross-checked Domi at the neck three times after a faceoff, and the much-anticipated battle was unde way just 37 seconds into the game.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Probert rained 47 punches on the 5-foot- 8, 198-pound Domi, who was at a severe disadvantage in terms of reach and was able to get off only 22 left-handed punches because he was hanging onto Probert's jersey with his right. Domi eventually went down from a chopping overhand right. Unbowed, the Rangers' "Pocket Pugilist" waved to the madly cheering crowd and smiled as he skated to the penalty box.

Told after the game that Probert hit him with 47 punches, Domi said, "He could've hit me with a thousand. It doesn't matter to me. The bottom line is we won the game and got two points."

Domi knew going into last night's game what he had to do, and he did it. "I did want to get into the game a bit (before fighting)," said Domi, who had some redness on his left cheek and a scrape on his forehead but nothing more. "But what can you do? The whole building started jumping. I could feel it, and my adrenaline started pumping."

Rangers Coach Roger Neilson thought Domi provided a needed spark and disagreed with the suggestion fighting gives the NHL a black eye. "I think it's great; it's exciting," Neilson said. "Part of the reason those guys are in the NHL is because they're such tough players. They drop their gloves; they have their fight; they go off to the penalty box, and the game resumes. I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all.

"(Domi) stood his ground against a bigger guy. I think it pumped the team up a lot."

By the way, after the fight, a hockey game broke out. In case you're interested, the Rangers edged Detroit 5-3.

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