Isn’t the hockey world going a little overboard trying to protect players? This week Arron Asham knocked out Jay Beagle and suddenly a debate broke out over the relevance of fighting in today’s NHL.
Some people in newspapers and on the radio are saying that fighting is archaic and unnecessary. Over and over again I have heard people ask, “Why is fighting necessary.” There is one word that completely describes why fighting needs to remain in the game, accountability.
Every hockey player knows that if they do something stupid, the other team will hold them accountable for their actions. Players refrain from certain indiscretions because if they deliver a cheap shot to another player, they will have to pay for it. If you take fighting out of the game it takes away that sense of accountability. We have laws in society to prevent crimes from being committed, and in hockey, fighting works the same way. Some people would argue that it’s a referee’s job to hold players accountable, but the reality is sometimes a penalty isn’t enough, and other times they miss the call completely. If fighting was eliminated from hockey I guarantee that the amount of cheap shots would increase.
What I find particularly frustrating about this debate is that what happened to Jay Beagle is not typical whatsoever. Why did Jay Beagle decide to have his first career NHL fight against Arron Asham, a veteran of 93 NHL fights? The end result of this fight was completely predictable. How often does an inexperienced player pick a fight with an enforcer? Never. It doesn’t happen because it shouldn’t happen. It was a complete anomoly. It’s ridiculous to look at one instance in a microscope, and then make rule changes based on that singular instance.
Here’s the reality of the situation, Jay Beagle needs to take some blame for picking a fight with Arron Asham. The minute this fight started I knew it was going to end badly for Beagle, it was a complete mis-match. Anyone who has been in a hockey fight knows you need to tie up your opponent’s jersey, grab his arm, do something! Beagle didn’t do any of this and as soon as Asham got his arm free, it was only a matter of time until Asham delivered the knockout blow. And here’s the kicker, Asham didn’t want to fight! He made it clear after the game he just wanted Beagle to settle down.
“I was kind of telling him to settle down and stop running around or he was going to have to fight. He wanted to fight and it’s unfortunate he got hurt,” Asham said.
Capitals forward, and former teammate of Arron Asham, gave his thoughts on the fight after the game.
“I’ve played with Arron, he’s an honest player, he’s tremendous at what he does and he’s doing what he had to do. Jay did what he felt what he had to do. It’s a little bit more experience against someone who doesn’t have a lot and that’s the result.”
For everyone that thinks fighting needs to be banned based on this instance, where were you when Derek Engelland knocked out Colton Orr last year? Is Colton Orr’s health less important because he fights on a regular basis? Is this situation different because Beagle is not a fighter? Well if you believe that, then I will refer you to my first point. Beagle shouldn’t have picked a fight with Arron Asham!
People need to relax on the issue of fighting in the NHL. Fights happen all the time, and rarely does anyone get hurt. It is also rare that an unwilling individual is dragged into a fight. The NHL shouldn’t make any changes based on one event, it’s too small of a sample size.