FIGHTING: WHAT COST TRADITION?

Robin Brownlee
March 21 2011 09:38PM

Is it time for the NHL to eliminate fighting?

I've heard that question asked 100 times if I've heard it once in the last 28 years or so writing about hockey for a living, and I've always had the same reaction. I'd look at the Goody Two Shoes asking it like they were some sort of drooling fool, scowl or roll my eyes and say, "Hell, no." Quite often, followed by a barely audible, "Sissy."

When somebody raises the topic or poses the question now, I find I'm not reacting the same way. I'm not sure when my opinion on bare-knuckles fighting changed, and I'm not certain exactly how far it's shifted, but the question no longer offends me.

I don't see the possibility of taking the act of "dropping the gloves" out of hockey as some sort of sacrilegious assault on the integrity of the game. I don't perceive posing the question as a misplaced bit do-good-ism, as a query to be dismissed off-hand because it clashes, rather mightily in my particular case, with the way I've always viewed fisticuffs.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'm now of the opinion it's a question that is at least worth asking, even if some of you out there are bound to roll your eyes and utter, "Sissy."

TIMES CHANGE

When people used to raise the issue of fighting, I'd say," It's part of the game." It seemed like a handy default answer. Hockey players have been punching each other senseless since the first puck hit the ice, so, in that regard, yes, it's part of the game.

Then again, having goaltenders play bare-faced was once part of the game. I'm old enough to remember it. If you're in your 20s or even 30s, think about that. Goaltenders used to face shooters bare-faced -- slap shots, screened shots. Pile-ups in the crease, skate blades, sticks. Now, if a goaltender loses his mask, the referee blows the whistle.

Having players play without helmets was once part of the game. I used to figure that was a personal choice by players and so did the NHL -- use of helmets was grandfathered in and bare-headed players, Craig MacTavish was the last, disappeared. A bad thing?

Take something as basic as the netting required in the end zone of rinks to protect fans from wayward pucks. After 13-year-old Britannie Cecil died after being struck in the head by a puck in a game between the Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames in March 2002, the NHL mandated safety netting would be installed in rinks. There was great debate.

"Netting? We won't be able to see" or "You can't put netting in. We've never had netting." A young girl died but there was still debate. Do we give netting a thought now?

Times change. And when people are permanently injured or even killed because of what we do and how we do it, even allowing for reasonable risks that are inherent in a game like hockey, they should.

PART OF THE GAME

I don't like what doctors found when they looked at Bob Probert's brain. I'm uncomfortable Raitis Ivanans hasn't played a game since a Steve MacIntyre punch dropped him like he'd been shot in the head. There was a time when I wouldn't have given the brain injuries suffered by Probert and Ivanans a second throught. Part of the job.

Framed in what we're learning about brain injuries suffered by athletes and the long-term effects of those injuries, I'm wondering if we should take another look at what we consider "part of the game."

I'm conflicted about that. I've always felt something of a kinship with hockey tough guys, players who take up that last spot or two on a roster because they're willing to bend noses and kick ass, to take care of business and ride shotgun, to put themselves in harm's way.

Guys like Rudy Poeschek, the toughest player I have ever known, and Georges Laraque, a sweetheart away from the rink who I know well and spent many years on the road with. All the hammers, really.

I admire them and always have. Now, I fear for them, well-paid for being ruffians or not.

SECOND THOUGHTS

This isn't knee-jerk stuff for me. As long-time readers at Oilersnation know, I did the tough guy gig as a lacrosse player. I scrapped some as a hockey player. I had boxing gloves and a heavy bag hanging in my garage from the time I was 13 years old.

I was a big kid -- six-foot-two and about 205 pounds by the time I was 14. I liked to fight. I got my ass kicked more times than I remember because of it. Concussions? I don't know how many. Too many.

It was part of the game and it was my job and a way to be a part of the team. I did it until I got tired of getting beat up and hurting all the time. I got sick of seeing my mom with tears in her eyes because I'd busted my nose or a knuckle again or had punched out another kid. It was not part of the game for her.

Those days long gone, I still enjoyed fighting. I had all the fight tapes in the old VCR days. Later, I had all of the fight websites bookmarked on my computer. I've watched Poeschek and Craig Berube pound each other 1,000 times. Trevor Senn? Look him up. The arrival of YouTube? There's a smorgasbord of mayhem. Great stuff, right?

HERE WE ARE

We didn't know then -- especially going back to when I was 15 or 25 or even 35 -- what we know now, what the medical evidence is telling us about brain injuries. About what happens to the players who bring the crowd to their feet when the gloves hit the ice.

So, if the NHL is taking steps to reduce the number of concussions its players sustain by eliminating headshots from the game, how long can it allow players to drop their gloves and punch each other because "it's part of the game." Because it entertains us?

I know the numbers in recent NHL studies on concussions -- Mark Spector at Sportsnet, among others, has written some compelling stuff on this -- show fighting isn't nearly the biggest culprit when it comes to brain injuries. Cheap stuff like Matt Cooke got suspended for and legal hits during the course of a game account for many more.

That said, based on what we know now, how many brain injuries are OK? What's the number? If the NHL is finds it unacceptable for a player to target the head of another player with a shoulder or an elbow, how much longer can it accept that doing it with a fist is part of the game? I don't have the answer.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 6zeppelin6
March 21 2011, 10:34PM
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IMO, the day that boxing is outlawed will be the day fighting in the NHL should be outlawed.

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#2 Zamboni Driver
March 21 2011, 10:38PM
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I'm all for a meaningful tilt (presupposing there is such a thing as 'meaningful') between two hockey players.

but the "Wanna go?" "Wanna go?" from two guys who belong in that gong show on ice in BC a couple of years back...that needs to be legislated out of the game. (and it wouldn't really be that hard)

Guys like Macintyre and Ivanins - they have absolutely no part left in the game whatsoever. Their role is meaningless - they don't DO anything, they intimidate no one.

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#3 Archaeologuy
March 21 2011, 10:23PM
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I'm one of those fans that loves his fighting. I might get labelled a dinosaur, but that's fine by me.

I don't wish anyone a brain injury, but concussions will never be eradicated until hockey is no longer a contact sport. Maybe I'll enjoy flag hockey, but I hope it doesn't come to that.

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#4 gongshow
March 21 2011, 11:52PM
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How many times did the stretcher come out before the instigator rule was implemented. How many times did the stretcher come out before obstruction penalties showed up? I don't have the numbers myself, but I have a gut feeling that both of those rule changes have lead to a increase in these more serious incidents.

Also, I love a good fight in the heat of the game. However, I have really grown to dislike the pre-arranged, staged fights that the heavyweights generally engage in these days. You can't call these guys enforcers anymore. Would SMac have jumped Cooke if he had hit Hemsky or Hall in the head? Unlikely because he's out of his weight class and Cooke would have to agree to the fight these days (unlikely). Did big Georges or Smac ever call out Regehr for taking liberties on our talent? If the answer is no, then why keep the big boys around?

I understand that Probert's brain didn't look so good when they looked at it. However, it would be nice to protect the majority of players brains from dangerous elbows by making on ice sheriffs legal again.

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#5 Fresh Mess
March 21 2011, 09:49PM
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I enjoy a spirited ice hockey contest, but fighting is a relic of the past and has no place in the game anymore.

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#6 russ99
March 21 2011, 10:02PM
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While I can understand the health risks involved, hockey is a violent sport. Players risk long-term injury just stepping onto the ice.

I think the NHL should increase punishments for violent behavior of all kinds, as that will be the only thing that will make a guy think twice before attempting to injure.

IMO, the most fair way of doling out this punishment would be to suspend a player the length of time the injured player is out.

Still, fighting is part of the fabric of the game and should have it's place.

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#7 jeanshorts
March 21 2011, 10:19PM
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I think there's still a place in the NHL for fighting, but more and more I'm starting to see less reason for the super heavyweights/goons. The MacIntyre's, the Gillies, the Boogards, etc. The guys who hardly take a regular shift and who's soul purpose is to fight each other. Honestly, when was the last time we saw Mac take on someone other than his doppelganger on the other team? Have we ever seen that?

These guys are always fan favorites and I'm sure all the boys in the room enjoy them just as much, if not more, but I don't think there's any need for them. They're clearly not out there protecting anyone, so what exactly are they there for? Bring on more Lucic's, Dorsett's, Simmond's, etc. Guys who can chuck em when they have to but can still play at least 8+ minutes a night and contribute.

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#8 SHAX0414
March 22 2011, 12:37AM
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First off get rid of the goons who play one or two shifts a night for one fight. Bring in guys who can play hockey again, how many monsters played in the past. If they couldn't contribute in some way, other then fighting they didn't play in the NHL. That should leave you with fights from the heat of the moment which will probably happen even if you were to ban fighting. Look at it this way even Sidney Crosby had a fight this year, and he is definitely not in the NHL for fighting and neither is Taylor Hall. That said it would be interesting if you had guys who could play the game, as well as fight. How many guys would be out of jobs 10 maybe 15 super heavy weights who aren't good enough to play a regular shift. That's all i have to say!!!!

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#9 Nikkles
March 21 2011, 10:29PM
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Instigator rule would help. If I'm Matt Cooke I'd think twice knowing macintyre was coming for me. I'd still probably throw it, but I'd think about it. After I got tooled I may not throw it again.

Dirty players don't seem to like getting hurt

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#10 Tayranchula
March 21 2011, 10:33PM
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Goalies faced shots when the blades of players sticks were straight and couldnt shoot it 90+ mph. Still goalies back then were guttsy and rather crazy in my opinion.

The NHL is becoming a joke and it is really starting to drive me crazy. They wanted to fix the game so badly for their US fans cause it was to slow and to many stops in play ( and americans are raised on football so I never understood that fact). So they tightened up the hooking and holding plays and this resulted in a faster game but it opened up a new problem in my eyes. The only way a player can get the puck off an opposing player is by taking the body. If you watch the Oil from the 80's you dont see many big thundering hits to lodge of puck off the players stick, you saw so much holding and grabbing and hooking and it often resulted in a quick easy way to get the puck. But now the only way you can stay in the NHL is if you arent soft, you need to finish your checks and take the body hard. The NHL has now made it esseintial to lay someone out or hammer them into the boards cause that is the only way you can dismember the man from the puck. This resulting in the concussions that are happening so often.

Also teh NHL got rid of the instigator rule so there isnt any line brawls but instead you get guys like Matt Cooke, Patrick Kaleta, Sean Avery running around hitting guys and star players with no regard cause they know no one is going to fight them if those turtles dont want to.

The nhl is a joke and run by a bunch of people that have never played the game and dont understand why it was run the way it was 30 years ago

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#11 Sworkhard
March 21 2011, 11:47PM
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I think fighting needs to stay in the game, but fights for the sake of fights don't. When two players get frustrated and fight, I have no problem with it as it's a lot less likely to cause an injury than a cheap shot or dangerous crosscheck into the boards. It serves a purpose or reducing frustration and can turn the game around.

Fighting is much safer and much less likely to cause long term complications in regular (non-goon) players than the alternatives. A blind side hit to the head, or an elbow, or a cross check that sends player headfirst into the boards have a much higher probability of causing a serious injury with lasting effects

As for fighting in juniors, I'm all for largely eliminating it at that level as concussions have much more devastating long term effects at that age than in 20 - 30 year olds. At least require the players to keep their gloves on at that level (maybe make that the rule in the NHL too if your worried about injuries from fights)

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#12 Oilcruzer
March 22 2011, 01:32AM
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The fight is necessary. Stars get hurt and if the fight doesn't happen, someone is getting a knee taken out, or worse.

I agree with RB. But there is no other form of flagrant foul, late hit, late (soccer) tackle, or hit by pitch, that is accepted and safely replaces hockey's fisticuffs.

The fighting GOON is all but gone though. Thank God.

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#13 dr_oil99
March 22 2011, 08:12AM
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Sorry RB but I disagree. Your point is to remove fighting to increase the safety for the players, no more punches to the head. Sure there are some fights in the game that are pointless but then there are some fights that are purely done for the safety of team mates .....accountability...... When some A hole takes a run at someone and has their elbows up or hits them in the numbers there is a lot more risk of serious injury in that than the ensuing fight. The fight took place to try and "encourage" the A hole from doing that again, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't but it was done in the name of accountability (big word for safety).

For me, the only time you can get rid of fighting is when you get rid of hitting and the A holes. I'm sure none of us want to see a game with no hitting.

In a word, you get rid of fighting you get rid of accountibilty, look what the instigator rule has done!!!!

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#14 Fresh Mess
March 21 2011, 10:00PM
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Brownlee, this is one of those odd pieces that I can really relate to. I feel much the same way you do.

I loved the hockey fight compilations. I loved Dave Brown when he was an Oiler and always had a soft spot for the enforcer, but as you wrote, times change and we evolve.

I now find myself being one of those guys I used to mock. I just don't think it belongs in our game anymore. I think visors should be madatory too.

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#15 Crash
March 21 2011, 10:05PM
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It is interesting that the big cry today is the head shots and how the NHL has to get it out of the game yet they allow fighting which is in effect a licence to hit the other guy in the head.

I'm not sure if it still belongs in the game. It's a darn good question.

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#16 Team Hall
March 21 2011, 10:06PM
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Impressive article Robin. Good for you for going against the tide and being ballsy enough to present both sides of the dilemma. You raise some very good questions there. Instead of giving the cliche'd old answer, "its part of the game" or, "the fans love it" like some media types do, you analyzed that in a very fair manner. Truth is, some fans love it. But how many more fans would the NHL get if they got rid of it?

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#17 Kodiak
March 21 2011, 10:17PM
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Heavy stuff RB. I've been a it's part of the game crowd for a long time too, but it's definitely something to ponder. Probably my biggest fear taking fighting out of the game is being able to protect the skill players properly. Having the Otts, Burrows and Clutterbucks taking liberties with Hall and Eberle and not being able to make them accountable would be tough to watch.

And at what point do you draw the line? Body checking causes injuries. Slapshots cause injuries. Poor ice conditions cause injuries.

Hockey players choose to fight and know the risks. I choose to drive race cars. I stalk bears with a bow and arrow. I sled in the mountains. I drive my quad like a maniac. I know the risks involved in those things and am thankful I am able to do these things if I want. If two hockey players in the heat of a game want to drop the gloves, I still think they should be able to choose to do so, knowing the risks involved.

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#18 Oilfan14
March 21 2011, 10:19PM
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I worry about how chippy the game will become if there are no consequences for your actions.

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#19 kgo
March 21 2011, 10:23PM
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(American) Football is to Rugby As No Fighting Hockey is to Hockey

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#20 jeanshorts
March 21 2011, 10:26PM
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Oilfan14 wrote:

I worry about how chippy the game will become if there are no consequences for your actions.

Pretty sure we're already well past that point. And unfortunately with all this head shot stuff putting fuel on the ban fighting argument I don't think we'll ever see the instigator be removed, which is a shame. You think Matt Cooke would still be throwing elbows and hits to the numbers if he got his nose broken three or four times at the beginning of his career because of it? I doubt it.

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#21 Zamboni Driver
March 21 2011, 10:38PM
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@velo

Yeah.

Brains and knees.

That's the same.

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#22 velo
March 21 2011, 10:46PM
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@Zamboni Driver

Sorry Zamboni, I forgot connecting the dots was hard for some people. What I am asking is, has the ability to mend otherwise career ending injuries increased the career length of the average NHL career. If so, it would follow that players are subject to more and more hits/fights over time, thus leading to greater overall head trauma. I would be curious to find an answer to that question.

You are right...knees and heads are not the same.

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#23 stevezie
March 21 2011, 11:38PM
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Roland wrote:

The game of hockey doesn't need to be childproof at the NHL level. Don't want fighting, go play inline hockey.

So you agree we should take it out of juniors? Good.

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#24 book¡e
March 22 2011, 12:23AM
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My dad was a boxer and I grew up fighting, but you know it all just seems silly now. I think it seems a bit silly in the NHL as well.

Some pretty good hockey is played without fighting. Ban headshots, elbows, etc. Make those five and a game.

On another note, anyone who thinks that nobody disrespected other players in the 1960s probably is operating with selective memory.

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#25 Buchie's Heroes
March 22 2011, 12:24AM
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A good read RB. I think the comments before me by Kodiak, velo, and jeanshorts, have nailed this one: fighting is a choice, and see if the players will wake-up and move away from the goon staged fights to a more spontaneous kind-of scrapping (i.e. the Hall/Dorsett bout from a few weeks back). I worry about the days when hockey is stripped of it's violent heritage, whittled down to a game of non-contact puck chasing by those clamouring for a cleaner, safer product. I already think the modern game to be overproduced and hyper-regulated as is. Every game has 25 HD cameras on it, leaving no player/coach/fan safe from public scrutiny. Ovechkin, one of the game's most talented players, wears a visor so dark you can hardly see his face. Players are so well conditioned they don't even look tired after 3 rounds of playoff hockey anymore. And, jerseys are mostly black, dark blue, or white, rendering the game asthetically dull and bland (Though the Oilers' home blues are an exception. Especially with similar road whites to be introduced next season - wooo!). The NHL, not unlike it's other professional relatives, has become a homogenized sport in look and feel: one lacking creativity and personality from top to bottom. Do away with fighting and the need for players with heightened levels of brute strength and toughness will go with it. That would be a shame, no doubt.

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#27 Truth
March 22 2011, 08:54AM
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I believe fighting is a part of the game, sure you can take it out but it would never be the same. What would the Taylor Hall's of the league do to finally "stand up for themselves"? I suppose a good two hand across the back of the legs would work? Hopefully they wouldn't be forced to pull a McSorley if they were extremely aggravated. I also suppose that the Hall's wouldn't have to stand up for themselves because the next thing to control would be the hitting. Remove fighting and the 8% (think I saw that somewhere) of hockey related concussions that they cause, but the next target will be what most casual hockey fans already see as a big problem, body checking. It could be 10, 20 years down the road but if they take fighting out of the game I would be willing to bet hitting is gone within 25 years. By hitting I mean what you would see on rock 'em sock 'em.

On another note, I went to college in the Southern US and they generally could not care less about hockey. College football and basketball followed by pro football and basketball would be about 95% of the their ranking, with baseball sliding in there from time to time. The amount of what I would consider actual NHL fans was extremely minimal, I compare it to the English Premier League fans here, those who wake up at 4:30 to catch the games live, they know the sport. However, the casual NHL fan did exist, and what was their reason for watching? Fights. After many drunken conversations asking how they could possibly not love the NHL, the most popular answer was "you canadians are crazy, I love watching the fights between highlight packages on espn." I would have hockey playing at my place whenever possible, when I had some people over they would look at the TV like there was a cricket game going on, until a fight, then you would think that they have been fans forever.

That is a lot of rambling but my point being if fighting is removed from the game hockey in the southern states will be as popular as the English Premier League, only diehard fans, which is unfortunate hockey is a great game, it will only be diminished removing fighting. However, if the NHL softens up maybe they can draw from the soccer fanbase. Ribeiro being the new Crosby.

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#28 RDS
March 22 2011, 09:02AM
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How long is it going to take for people to realize fighting in hockey does not reduce cheap shots at all. What does a player like Cooke have to fear if he elbows someone in the head? The other team's goon is not going to come after him. Why did Hall get in to a fight in the first place? The players on the other team had no fear of running him.

What is more entertaining:

1. Playoff hockey or regular season hockey?

2. Olympic hockey or regular season hockey?

3. World Juniors or regular season hockey?

Don't get me wrong, I like to watch a good hockey fight, but its not the reason I watch the game and if it was gone ir wouldn't bother me. Funny how when the games really mean something, fighting virtually disappears.

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#30 dr_oil99
March 22 2011, 10:32AM
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mayorpoop wrote:

what exactly has the instigator rule done?

The instigator rule has, IMO, increased the safety for the cheap shot artists, and no one else.

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#31 Dan the Man
March 22 2011, 10:52AM
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RDS wrote:

How long is it going to take for people to realize fighting in hockey does not reduce cheap shots at all. What does a player like Cooke have to fear if he elbows someone in the head? The other team's goon is not going to come after him. Why did Hall get in to a fight in the first place? The players on the other team had no fear of running him.

What is more entertaining:

1. Playoff hockey or regular season hockey?

2. Olympic hockey or regular season hockey?

3. World Juniors or regular season hockey?

Don't get me wrong, I like to watch a good hockey fight, but its not the reason I watch the game and if it was gone ir wouldn't bother me. Funny how when the games really mean something, fighting virtually disappears.

You're absolutley correct that fighting doesn't reduce cheap shots. Matt Cooke is not going to fight Derek Boogard.

But Playoff, Olympic and World Jr. hockey is better because the games mean more. There will always be "meaningless" regular season games. Taking fighting out of the games isn't going to make it more intense.

With that being said I would be perfectly fine with the designated heavyweight role being eliminated. I like the fights that come about as a result of emotion as opposed to the staged showdowns.

The difficult thing is getting rid of one without the other.

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#32 Oiler Country
March 22 2011, 11:08AM
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Fighting? It's the part of the emotion in the game I believe. Fighting rarely happens even now, with the exception of a few outliers.

Taylor Hall fought because he was sick and tired being pushed around and saved by a teammate. Fighting told the NHL, Taylor won't folder up the tent if he's roughed up. Ankle injury aside, it wasn't the result of the fight, it was a freak accident.

Gorillas in the league the likes of Parros, MacIntyre, Boogard, et al. well... I'm forced to pause. Do they have a place in today's league? Tough to say. Most would argue they do not, because if you can't play hockey, you shouldn't be in the NHL, if you are a damn good fighter, you might make it to the league and play 2 mins a night. Just ask Mac, who played one shift in one game. Was he a value to his team out there? No, no he was not.

I don't think you can take fighting out of the league, but you can limit the amount of times it occurs by removing the pure fighters out and leaving the people that can play hockey in.

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#33 Chaz
March 22 2011, 12:11PM
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Also, I concur with you Robin; whereas I had the opinion up until recently that fighting belonged in the game, period I no longer am so sure. Not saying I want it out, but I'm open to exploring that option now. I think within a few years, this debate will eventually result in it leaving the game.

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#34 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
March 21 2011, 09:49PM
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As relative as it will ever get: FIST!

Edit: Damn you, Fresh!!!!

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#35 Dolbydo2002
March 21 2011, 09:51PM
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No.

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#36 kgo
March 21 2011, 10:05PM
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This is the first time i've notice Brownlee post on the flames sight, Ive only been here 100 or so times...

This article strikes me as an attempt to brew a controversial comment board.

The point about goalies playing without masks, and how we in our 20's or 30's should think about that??? I play D, and block a lot of shots, without face protection. : "facing shooters bare-faced -- slap shots, screened shots. Pile-ups in the crease, skate blades, sticks. "

Besides sticks had ZERO curve back in the day.

The only issue here is that we have room on the ROSTERS for 3 minute per game players. Drop the roster, watch the goons vanish. Look at Stortini, he got 200+ games and cant' even fight! (love the guy)

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#37 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
March 21 2011, 10:06PM
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Somewhere Dana White must be grinnin from ear to ear. I'd hate to see what they'd call NHL players if they removed this element from the game.

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#38 kgo
March 21 2011, 10:07PM
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@kgo

Guess i'm not looking at the flames SITE afterall!

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#39 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
March 21 2011, 10:14PM
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On a serious note; quit being such a sissy, Brownlee!

Emotions run high in a physical sport, so un-staged fighting is as much a natural part of the game as hitting. Doubt they could rule it out if they wanted to. ~Maybe the NHL should look at minimizing head shots... in a fight!~ Sheeesh.

What's an average salary in a Canada these days? $60K? Compare that to a minimum NHL salary of $500K. Ivanins doesn't have to fight, he can probably drive a truck instead. But I'm guessing even he won't share your opinion.

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#40 kgo
March 21 2011, 10:25PM
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@jeanshorts

That makes me wonder how many mins Lucic averages, but i'm too lazy to look it up

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#41 jeanshorts
March 21 2011, 10:27PM
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kgo wrote:

That makes me wonder how many mins Lucic averages, but i'm too lazy to look it up

Last five games were 16, 20, 18, 19, 17. 53 points and 106 PIM's so far. That's the type of player I wish everyone in the NHL was like. More power forwards!

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#42 velo
March 21 2011, 10:37PM
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I'm curious if we are a bit misguided in our thinking about concussions ending careers. I remember when bad backs and torn ACL's were the end of careers. Now we patch those injuries up and sent the troops back out to war. I would like to know what the average career expectancy is now vs. then.

Many sports have inherent risks. They need to be managed. That doesn't necessarily mean the sports need to be changed.

Fighting, when precipitated by emotion is ok by me. The staged battles between goons seem pointless.

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#43 Tayranchula
March 21 2011, 10:42PM
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Ohh and Proberts brain was probably fried from the amount of coke he did why do you think no one wanted to fight with him. He was a demon haha. Still have a mad amount of respect for him and what he was for the game. Most B.A player in the histroy in my mind.

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#44 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
March 21 2011, 10:51PM
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This should go over great at Flamesnation. That punch drunk Calgary Flame photo looks awesome. This is what they may all look like about 10:30 on Saturday. Season over, turn out the lights Flamesnation.

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#45 stevezie
March 21 2011, 11:16PM
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Players are not only bigger(Dave "The Hammer" Schulz was 185 pounds), they're more specialized. Have players always spent the offseason taking boxing lessons? The strength and punching skill of modern enforcers makes fighting exponentially more dangerous than it once was. Just like curved sticks and slap-shots necessitated goalie masks, so to does this change physicality call for change.

My bold solution? Get rid of fighting in juniors. Something that doesn't often get mentioned is how much worse brain injuries are for developing brains. Everyone knows it's bad to get a fetus drunk, but it's also not great to give a teenager a concussion. This will also greatly cut down on the number of super-punchers in the big leagues, because they'll have no place to develop those skills, and it's my personal opinion that enforcers cause a lot more violence than they prevent (eg. Tie Domi was one of the dirtiest players of his era. Enforcers don't do anything anyway- when was the last time someone jumped Chris Pronger?)

The main justifications for modern fighting is that players are adults who are well-compensated- juniors are none of those things. They are in a much higher risk group.

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#46 johnny
March 21 2011, 11:18PM
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finally.

good to read.

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#47 Roland
March 21 2011, 11:22PM
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The game of hockey doesn't need to be childproof at the NHL level. Don't want fighting, go play inline hockey.

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#48 jeanshorts
March 21 2011, 11:28PM
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Roland wrote:

The game of hockey doesn't need to be childproof at the NHL level. Don't want fighting, go play inline hockey.

Tell that to these guys

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPfDdlxmmU0

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#49 Deaner
March 21 2011, 11:30PM
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Poll?

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#50 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
March 21 2011, 11:33PM
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Good question. I enjoy fighting, but I don't think I'd miss it, if hockey banned fighting.

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