Not everyone was in peak form when the 2013 NHL season finally began.
But the goons were ready.
As soon as the puck dropped, so did the gloves.
The early games featured plenty of tussles, as the old-timers call them, and nobody was surprised.
While long-term trends show fights on the decline in the NHL, only a fool would expect the imminent extinction of the enforcer.
Fighting isn't tolerated in other team sports. So why does it still thrive in the NHL and throughout the hockey world?
There's no simple answer. But it helps to understand how deeply the fist fight is ingrained in the roots of the game.
Photo: Anaheim's Matt Beleskey and Vancouver's Aaron Volpatti have a go (Harry How/Getty Images).