Ice Guardians Review
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For about as long as the NHL has existed, hockey fans, analysts, and the media have debated whether there’s a place in the sport for fighting—whether it’s a necessary part of the game or an aspect that should be banned. And director Brett Harvey’s hard-hitting documentary, Ice Guardians, provides an insider’s view of the controversy.

Ice Guardians takes a closer look at the fighting debate, exploring the history of fighting in hockey, the rise of the role of enforcer, and the challenges of the job. Through interviews with hockey historians and analysts—as well as star players like Brett Hull and notorious enforcers like Dave Semenko (and, for some reason, actor and hockey fan Jay Baruchel)—this eye-opening doc offers an in-depth look at the enforcer’s role on the team and in the league. And, in the process, it takes the time to get to know a little more about the guys who are known more for dropping their gloves than for scoring goals.

Some people watch hockey just for the fights. Some believe that fighting takes away from the game. But, no matter where you stand in this discussion, you’re sure to come away from this film with a better appreciation for hockey enforcers.

For the most part, Ice Guardians is a tribute to enforcers—to the guys who sacrifice noses and knuckles to stand up for their team. While some of the subjects admit that they truly enjoy fighting, there’s more to these guys than just a tendency toward violence. Some admit that it was simply the price that they were willing to pay for a chance to play in the NHL—a way to make it as a pro when they didn’t have the natural talent of a hockey superstar. Others just felt the need to protect their teammates when the referees didn’t.

But the film goes deeper than just the psychology of an enforcer. It also takes a look at the bigger picture, touching on things like sociology, physiology, the strategies of the game, and the dynamics of other hockey leagues to explain where these tough guys fit in—and why they’re a valuable part of the team.

Granted, this film doesn’t cover every aspect of fighting in hockey; it tends to rush through some of the darker sides of the story. And there’s definitely nothing flashy about it. But it does an impressive job of putting the age-old hockey debate into perspective.

Whether you’re pro-fighting or in favor of a more peaceful game, Ice Guardians is worth watching on your favorite team’s next night off. It’s sure to teach you something new about fighting, enforcers, and even the overall dynamics of the game.

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