VIDEO: Does Fighting Belong in Hockey? Have your say!

(Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

(Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

If there was no fighting in the NHL, there would have been no way or reason for Brooks Orpik to answer for his clean hit, and thus Shawn Thornton would have had no reason to viciously attack him. An interesting sentiment from the anti-fighting crowd among us. A sentiment that suggests fighting is at the core of the rash of violence in hockey. A sentiment that suggests t’s time to do away with neanderthals punching each other in the head. After all, no other sport allows and encourages fighting.

Hockey is not like any other sport. For starters, the majority of the men who actually strap on the pads and skates, and put their safety on the line every night want to keep fighting a part of the game. They believe it’s a deterrent for dirty plays, and eliminating it would make things worse. Judging by the number of head-shots and subsequent suspensions we’ve seen this season, how can it get much worse?

Most people, including the NHL it would seem, are in agreement that staged fights for no other reason than to justify the existence of enforcers need to stop. But fights out of passion, out of protection, what about them?

There should be a line in regards to fighting. Line brawls should never be tolerated. Goalie fights, no matter how entertaining, are no good to anyone. Will all fights eventually be gone from the game? Judging by the focus as of late, there’s a very good chance it will. If fighting is removed from junior hockey and minor hockey, players won’t learn to fight. Enforcers who’s only role is to fight will become extinct. It may take some time. If the NHL really is serious about removing this element of the game, they very may well succeed.

The anti-fighting crowd will always cite brain injuries and concussions as the reason why fighting should be exiled. And after seeing what happened to George Parros, it’s hard to argue that. But flying elbows, charging, and boarding infractions have nothing to do with fighting. If we really want to protect out players, perhaps we should start there.

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Have your say! Do you think fighting should still be a part of hockey?

Marcy Di Michele

Marcy Di Michele

A hockey player, and huge sports fan, Marcy has worked as a Sports Journalist for the esteemed online magazine Suite 101 in addition to being a Lead Writer at the Hockey Writers.
Marcy Di Michele

3 Comments

  1. The biggest myth about fighting is “policing the game”. It’s cited by NHL players, fans, media and bloggers as the main reason that fighting and enforcers must remain part of hockey. There is no data or research to suggest that it works or that it has that impact. Games are not less violent with an enforcer in the line-up and teams that fight more often certainly don’t have less man-days lost due to injury. The facts support that it’s the opposite. When teams fight, cheap shots and dangerous penalites go up. Games with enforcers employed will have more dirty plays. I’ve put together several articles that demonstrate that – here’s an example: http://itsnotpartofthegame.blogspot.ca/2013/05/rat-pim-update-leafs-enforcers-policing.html

    Fighting is all about revenge. It allows players to attack an opponent if they believe that the ref missed a penalty or that the offender was not sufficiently punished. So you have a biased and emotional player making decisions on what is right or wrong, and who should get punched. Cheap shots – you’re gonna have to fight. Clean but hard hit on a star player – you’re gonna have to fight. Goal celebration a little too much or taunting the crowd or running up the score late in a game – guess what.

    And that’s why you end up with Brashear, Moore and Orpik being taken off the ice on a stretcher. They would not respond to a fight challenge and got attacked. As long as you let players “police” the game then these incidents will continue to happen.

  2. I think it’s time we take a hard look at stiffer penalties for fighting. While a complete ban is all but impossible in my opinion, the NHL should take note of what the OHL tried to do by suspending frequent fighters.

    That not only would eliminate staged fights which are completely useless, but players whose sole purpose is to fight; We’re already paying the highest ticket prices of all 4 major sports in North America (in the markets that matter). We’re paying those prices to watch athletes who are among the best in their sport, not fringe talents who are only there because they are willing to be “enforcers”.

    Fighting in hockey should be a very occasional occurence (if at all) when tempers boil over, not a main attraction or an answer to every clean hit thrown.

    To the people who watch hockey for the fighting, I say it’s high time they admit that they’re not hockey fans, but fighting fans, in which case the National HOCKEY League should not have to cater to them. Let the UFC supply them with their fix. They do it better (and more safely) anyway.

    I could go on forever…but I will refrain.

  3. The problem with this argument, and the reason players want fighting to stay, is this.
    The referees, and the rulebook don’t protect the players. Fighting doens’t really either, but it makes the players feel safer.
    The fact that for the NHL there are ‘clean hits’ that leave a player concussed and unable to play, something Orpik and many other players do deliberately and consistently, the fact that discipline is meted out unreliably, and based mostly on a players salary rather then the visciousness of their offense, the fact that the referees miss things, and stop calling penalties in close games, all add up to the players feeling terribly vulnerable.
    And vulnerable players want the only avenue they have to protect themselves, no matter how little effect it has, still around.
    Fighting will go away only when the NHL actually makes its referees do their jobs.

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