By: Joe Rozycki
This is the first installment of the Best of Mavs Hockey series, looking back at some of the greatest players and moments as we prepare for Season 10 of Mavs Hockey…….
Some hockey players are fighters. Some hockey players know how to fight. There may not seem like there’s much of a distinction between those two statements, but when put into context, there’s a world of difference.
Fighting in hockey has been quite the hot topic over the last decade. As the leagues try to do their best to improve the safety of their players, the game has always been enforced by the players on the ice. I think all too often, we associate the policing of the game with the violence of the game. You can probably tell by now which side of the line in the sand I currently reside on, but to me, there is a big difference between the two.
In Kansas City, we’ve had the privilege of seeing several players that can throw hands with the best of them. When I was putting together my list for the fan voting, it was nearly impossible to narrow that list down to just four players. Everyone has their favorites, and there isn’t really a wrong suggestion.
While this team has had many incredible moments over the last nine seasons, two of those moments came from gloves being dropped and two skated warriors going to battle. The first happened on November 13, 2009, as the Mavericks made their debut in front of the Orange Army in the inaugural home opener. The puck dropped, and the gloves soon followed. A behemoth of a man with “Lewis” stitched across his broad shoulders threw punch after punch, and with each one landing on the head and body of Jordan Little of the Wichita Thunder, this fan base fell more and more in love with hockey in just a matter of seconds. The Mavericks went on to win in a shootout, but that moment is talked about more that the outcome of the game, and rightfully so. Carlyle Lewis, later dubbed The Grim Sleeper, instantly became a Mavs legend.
As talented as Lewis was, he still came in as the runner-up for the title of Best Fighter. That honor has been bestowed upon the one and only Colt King. We’ll get to King’s wicked combat skills in a little bit, but I want to reference my opening statement to this piece. There are fighters, and there are players who know how to fight. King was not a fighter, and he struggled with that stigma throughout his career. People forget how talented of an offensive player he was. He had multiple 20+ goal seasons. He is currently eighth all-time in goals scored in franchise history. He was a key cog to the Rapid City Rush winning the Central Hockey League ChampioshopHe was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses because he could skate well for his massive frame and was nearly impossible to clear from the front of the net. He could shoot, pass, skate, hit, and so much more. Arguably, his best quality on the ice was that he was a distraction. The opposition always had to keep an eye on him regardless of where the puck was. I’ll say it again, King was not a fighter, but that man sure knew how to fight.
King had several memorable bouts before even joining the Mavericks prior to the 2012-13 season. We all witnessed his incredible abilities several times during his tenure in Kansas City, but it was his final fight in a Mavs sweater that has earned him this distinguished title of Best Fighter bestowed upon him by the Orange Army. It was March 7, 2014. The Mavericks were in the midst of their best season in franchise history, and would eventually win the Governor’s Cup with the top regular season record in the Central Hockey League. Coming to town were the hated Allen Americans, with the towering Garrett Klotz in tow. There was much build-up on social media prior to the contest, but the majority of the game went without incident. Then, with just under six minutes to play in the game, Klotz tried to line up Mavs forward Mike Ramsay for a big hit against the board. Ramsay was able to avoid most of the contact, but Klotz lifted his knee into the midsection of Ramsay for a kneeing penalty. Unfortunately for Klotz, this infraction wouldn’t be your normal blown whistle and slow skate to the penalty box, oh no.
King saw the entire incident unfold before him, and was already skating towards Klotz before he even made contact with Ramsay. As Klotz turned away from the boards, he was met by a shoulder from King. These two immovable objects collided, sending King onto the ice. A shove from Klotz as King rose to his feet would be the final straw. The gloves came off, and what we witnessed over the next 15-20 seconds wasn’t violence. It was a symphony of hockey justice. It was a moment of the superhero standing up to the super villain. It was Goliath versus Goliath. Not only was it the best fight I’ve ever witnessed in person, it was one of the greatest hockey moments I’ve ever witnessed. Far too often, things are built up and the anticipation is so great that the actual moment falls flat and withers in disappointment. Not this time. King versus Klotz exceeded any expectation set before it. We’ll never see another fight like that again.
Colt King wasn’t a fighter, but man, he could fight.
The Best of Mavs Hockey series continues. Be sure to follow @MavsInsiderJoe on Twitter to cast your vote on the next contest: Fastest Skater