I will admit, when I started reading Adam Proteau’s Fighting the Good Fight, I was skeptical. I have always been a fan of the hockey fight, the big hit, and the physical side of the sport of hockey. I considered it part of the culture, part of the lifestyle, part of the game.
However, just a few pages into the book, I realized that not only were these things unnecessary to the game, but that my thinking is also a major part of the problem.
Proteau, a columnist for The Hockey News, has long been a target of hockey “purists” for his anti-fighting stance. He has been called names, his love for the game has been challenged, and has had his manhood challenged. Despite this, Proteau has always stuck to his beliefs and provides a brutally honest and effective argument against the excessive violence in the game we all love.
The basic framework for his case appears in a chapter titled, “The Unoriginal 10.” In this chapter, Proteau provides the 10 most common arguments pro-fighting/pro-violence used by the “guardians of the status quo” and also provides the ammunition to prove those arguments fruitless. Included on the list are such gems as “If you don’t like fighting, you don’t like hockey,” the “fans love (fighting”), “without fighting, the game won’t be any safer. In fact, it will be more dangerous,” “you’ve never played the game,:” and “I guess you just hate hockey.” Proteau eloquently and, using facts, debunks each of these arguments in a clear, concise manner.
In addition to using his own words, Proteau provides example after example of how excessively violent hits (those not designed to simply separate the puck carrier from the puck) and fighting (both spur of the moment and staged, “dancing bear” fights) have caused serious and long-lasting injuries and affects on players throughout the sport’s history. He cites such cases as Steve Moore, Steve McKinnon, Nick Kypreos, and Stu Grimson as examples of players barreling into other players without regard for the puck have ended careers.
Another interesting point raised by Proteau is mandating visor use. Naysayers often declare that mandating visors will actually increase stick incidents, but reality says differently. He cites Bryan Berard (who lost most of the vision in one eye after being cut), AL MacInnis (who suffered a serious injury from a stick), Doug Murray, and Manny Malhotra as examples of incidents where visors would have prevented the injury from ever occurring.
Finally, Proteau talks to dozens of current and former NHL players, referees, and officials about their feelings ona number of these subjects. It surprised me, for one, just how many favor Proteau’s proposals.
As I said, I was skeptical at best before reading Proteau’s book. However, his factual evidence, persuasive arguments, and straight-forward ideas have forced me to rethink what hockey actually is versus what it should/could be. Fighting the Good Fight should be mandatory reading for all hockey fans. It may just make one think about what really belongs in the sport.
Steve Kendall has covered hockey for various publications for 20 years. You can follow him on Twitter @skendallhockey and read more of his work at
Steve has been a writer for 20 years, and has covered the NHL, NCAA, and amateur hockey for the likes of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the Boston Herald, and New England Hockey Journal. Follow me on twitter @stevekendallthw