Great Post .. Island.. and no Toucan.. not joking.. If I guy thinks he's going to take a punch in the head he is less likely to be trying to take a run at your star player .. or players... Gretzky/Semenko Bure/Odjick.. Naslund/Bert ..
and maybe your right you had to be a player to know the code... or a coach .. or an informed fan.. ( been all 3 )
I buy the Semenko thing, but the fighting back then was much different than now. Naslund and Bert? Yeah that worked out...
The thing I don't get is, Neil doesn't have to fight anymore, so there is no effective deterrent. He only has to fight someone he thinks he can take. In the old takes Semenko would stalk and pummel a guy. You can't do that now. I might buy the case pre-instigator, but now it's exactly what you say it is, a code, a formality, and a ritual. None of which means it's effective, because it obviously isn't.
I can't believe how many guys out there are still complete goofs about this sport, it's not that precious fellows. Meant to be enjoyed, while watching, or, even better, playing.