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 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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#2 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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#3 Dolbydo2002
March 21 2011, 09:51PM
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No.

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#4 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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#5 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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#6 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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#7 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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#8 Quicksilver ballet
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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#9 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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#10 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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#11 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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#12 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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#13 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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#14 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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#15 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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#16 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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#17 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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#18 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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#19 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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#20 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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#21 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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#22 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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#23 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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#24 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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#25 Zamboni Driver
March 21 2011, 10:38PM
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@velo

Yeah.

Brains and knees.

That's the same.

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#26 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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#27 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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#28 Quicksilver ballet
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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#29 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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#30 johnny
March 21 2011, 11:18PM
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finally.

good to read.

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#31 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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#32 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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#33 Deaner
March 21 2011, 11:30PM
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Poll?

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#34 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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#35 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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#36 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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#37 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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#38 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
March 22 2011, 12:20AM
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stevezie wrote:

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.

Disagree.

Take it out of junior and watch the rookies get dumbied by the vets in the NHL because the rooks don't know how to fight. Probably more dangerous this way.

Either take it out at both levels or none at all. And none for me please. The guys who fight, chose to fight. Pronger doesn't because he choses not to. No need to baby sit them.

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#39 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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#40 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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#41 stevezie
March 22 2011, 12:32AM
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Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy! wrote:

Disagree.

Take it out of junior and watch the rookies get dumbied by the vets in the NHL because the rooks don't know how to fight. Probably more dangerous this way.

Either take it out at both levels or none at all. And none for me please. The guys who fight, chose to fight. Pronger doesn't because he choses not to. No need to baby sit them.

That Pronger chooses not to is exactly my point; enforcers only fighting willing participants has little to no effect on dirty play.

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#42 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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#43 Forrestt
March 22 2011, 01:28AM
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Great article Robin, always enjoy your thoughts. My 2 cents are this... everybody has a job. Some of the jobs out there are jobs that "pay well" but inherently threaten your health in the long run. Take the lobstermen fishers, paid great but risky buisness out on the Beaufort Sea. Chemical plant workers, again paid good but inherint long term health affects. Fire Fighters, Insulators, Mine Workers, the list goes on and on. Fighters in the NHL.... paid great and like other populations in society may also be very detremental to your health in the longterm. Is it right or wrong I don't know, but there are many professions out there that offer the same sort of risk reward benefit. It feels like society has changed in regards to hockey fighters anyways, either that or I'm just getting old lol.

Cheers.... Forrestt

PS: The people I fell most sorry now are for the poor engineers working on that nuclear recator in Japan. They truely are heros working for the greater good, but shortening there lives by far.

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#44 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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#45 Ethan Kortbeek
March 22 2011, 02:41AM
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Come gather 'round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You'll be drenched to the bone If your time to you Is worth savin' Then you better start swimmin' Or you'll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin'. - Bob Dylan

weird, how lyrics can be written 30+ yrs ago and be relevant now...great article robin, its a piece to consider for sure, even if I think the fighting should stay, it appears to be unsafe for the players but who is to say...a thinker good sir...and for better men then me to say.

well done.

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#46 Ethan Kortbeek
March 22 2011, 02:44AM
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on a seperate note, the NHL and Daly got this one exactly right...my prediction of rest of season and entire 1st round was right, but well done NHL...I honestly expected a 5 gamer, as the suspension dept has missed on so many prior to this one.

Excellent job for a change. cooke is a bum.

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#47 mayorpoop
March 22 2011, 06:28AM
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good piece RB.

you cant have change without discussion. the mere fact more people are willing to listen the arguements for and against fighting is a positive.

personally i think removing the instigator penalty would prove nothing and accomplish less.

flow of the game intensity and heat of the moment umbrage players have for one another im completely fine with. the production needs have the curtains closed on it for good.

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#48 -30-
March 22 2011, 06:42AM
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@ Robin, what does it say about you liking to be fighting? Most sane people don't like to get hurt or to hurt other people.

For someone to enjoy both? Scary.

This goes far beyond violence in sport. It's a much deeper psychological thing. Violence doesn't usually start and stop on the playing field.

-30-

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#49 Clyde Frog
March 22 2011, 07:46AM
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I'm not against getting rid of fighting or forcing rules to change it.

Alter the gloves, so a player wanting to fight is at least taped up. Force players to use mouth-guards and bring in the basic medical standards every other fighting body is required to follow, ie mandatory drug testing, medical review sessions after each fight that could require players to sit for up to 6 months, etc.

If fighting is PART of the game, then the league should be required to actually govern and protect the players engaging in it at a real level.

I get that chipiness and stickwork would be expected to go up, but honestly saying that a referee could not be empowered to actually control the hockey game and enforce zero tolerance policies is a joke. They can, just like the hooking changes there would be a big adjustment period but in the end they would get it.

Hell this entire blindside hit suspension debate is just that, the league removing dangerous acts from the game without requiring one team to clear the benches and brawl.

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#50 michael
March 22 2011, 07:51AM
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With pukes like Cooke in the game.The inability of the NHL to punish the kind of hits that are worse than fighting. For me if we could get rid of those plays the need for fighting would decrease markedly.

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