About a week ago, Phoenix Coyotes enforcer Georges Laraque worried that the role of fighters is nearing extinction in the NHL.
Well, based on his conduct Thursday night against Los Angeles, it can't come soon enough.
While wearing a televison microphone for the game, Laraque inadvertently made a mockery of his chosen art and completely undermined the dogged efforts of those who maintain that fighting has an important part in the sport.
With a faceoff just outside the Phoenix and the Coyotes ahead 3-2 in the 14th minute of the first period, the 6-foot-6 Laraque ambled over to L.A.'s designated goon, Raitus Ivanans, and inquired politely if he might possibly interested in fisticuffs.
"Wanna do it?" said Laraque, without a trace of anger, a curse word or any indication that the invitation to scrap had anything at all to do with something that had happened within the game.
There was no argument, no schoolyard jabbering back and forth, no "I'm gonna knock your teeth out" or claim that revenge was at hand for a previous injustice.
Best of all, when Ivanans accepted, Laraque happily said, "Ok," then offered a terribly menacing threat.
"Good luck," he said breezily, and as soon as the puck was dropped, the two dropped their gloves and wasted everybody's time for 45 seconds.
See, if the NHL wonders why it struggles to find TV acceptance in the U.S., one of the reasons is because of pro wrestling silliness like this.
It was a phony fight, pure and simple. The punches were real, sure, but those guys in the squared circle really jump off the top rope, too.
If Gary Bettman wanted to make a statement about the integrity of the sport, he'd immediately suspend both players.
The beauty of this incident is that it proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that all the cliches offered by those who believe fighting is so crucial to the sport are complete baloney.
Neither Laraque nor Ivanans was trying to stop the opponent from "taking liberties" on their teammates.
It wasn't about keeping the sticks down. It wasn't about stopping guys with visors from "running around" and hitting everything in sight. It wasn't about "policing" the game to keep it fair and clean.
It was a rather pathetic attempt by both men to legimitize their increasingly dicey existence as NHL players.
How else would Laraque make $1.1 million per season? In what other line of work would Ivanans pull down $450,000 per? Without fighting, of course, neither man would ever have earned a position in the league, so it is in their interest to try to perpetuate the myth that fighting is an integral part of the game.
All those ex-players and former coaches in the media, of course, are in on this dirty little secret. They know this kind of fake confrontation is part of the NHL every night.
But they don't want to be the whistle blower. So they continue to mouth the propaganda.
The truth is that playing the game itself is incidental to these enforcers, and their little insiders deal is evidence of what goes on every single night with enforcers.
Their phony fight made a joke of both players and the job of the professional thug.
And in so doing, it makes a mockery of the NHL.