NHL Fights Do More Harm than Good

Debating about fighting in hockey is nothing new. There are those who believe it is an integral part of the game, that it helps protect players. This thought process is completely understandable. I mean who out there hasn’t at least once thought about punching somebody to send a message? Not just hockey players but in life? How many of us so-called “good people,” who have never punched anyone before, at least thought about doing it? My guess would be that most of us have.

Robert Bortuzzo was willing to do anything to stay in the lineup. (Photo by Andy Martin Jr)
Robert Bortuzzo was willing to do anything to stay in the lineup. (Photo by Andy Martin Jr)

However, outside an emergency situation, fighting is never the answer and it never has been. When it comes to the NHL, wide spread studies back up the conclusion that fighting does nothing to reduce major injuries.

The Enforcer Is No Morcer

The Jody Shelley, George Parros, John Scott type players are naturally becoming extinct. With the young talented kids coming into the league, fighting is going out the window. Considering it is already on its way out, the NHL could simply ban it for good in what would be an ultimate message of change. In a sports world currently overridden with domestic violence news, the NHL could capitalize on the public’s demand for change. Hockey’s greatest league can earn something far greater than dollars and cents, it can earn widespread respect for doing the right thing when the right thing isn’t the easy thing to do.

Whether it is domestic violence, or the physical sports themselves, we have to do a better job protecting each other. Violence in response to violence may satisfy our short term anger, but it has much more severe negative effects over the long term. As a Sharks fan I’ll be the first to admit that just last season I was hoping to see Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown answer for his knee on knee hit on Tomas Hertl by fighting Tommy Wingels. Whenever fighting is finally fazed out of the NHL, there will always be a part of me that will miss it. It has been a significant part of the game I grew up with. But like a lot of things in life, it’s just not worth it.

My colleague Kenneth Laws put it perfectly in his latest article with the famous “eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” quote. And as mentioned previously, we all have that natural “he hit me, so I’m going to hit him back” instinct. The cost of retaliation though is unlike anything most of us can even imagine. Not sure how anyone can read this terrific column by the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater and not cringe at what has happened to former NHL enforcer Scott Parker. The second line of Dater’s column reads “soon after awakening, his ears ring so loud they seem like the equivalent of a hundred fire alarms.”

Growing up as a Sharks fan I absolutely loved watching Scott Parker. What young boy doesn’t get excited by a fight? I will always remember when he tried to jump the glass between the benches against the Nashville Predators.

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While Parker says he would do it all over again and believes fighting should remain in the game, the fact of the matter is nobody should have to go through what he is going through.

The NHL and the NHLPA have the ability to prevent a significant amount of pain and discomfort by eliminating fighting this very moment. There is literally no reason for fighting to continue, studies prove it serves as no deterrent for dirty hits. It is already on its way out the door, the NHL would be wise to speed things up and give it a quick push goodbye. Will it be missed? Certainly, but the sport of hockey will be continue to grow without it.

3 thoughts on “NHL Fights Do More Harm than Good”

  1. Good article Andrew. If you need data on why fighting is useless then refer to this post on my website. http://itsnotpartofthegame.blogspot.ca/2014/03/beating-dead-horse-fighting-increases.html.

    Noted hockey writer and historian Iain Fyffe takes the Rat PIM concept evern farther and totally destroys the myth that enforcers reduce cheap shots. His work is contained in the 2014 Hockey Abstract – http://www.hockeyabstract.com/2014edition There’s a small cost to download but worth it if you want facts versus perception.

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