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Why Fighting Needs to Stay

It's a Canadian Game



6 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you think fighting should be removed from hockey

    • Yes
    • No
    • No, but stricter penalties should be assessed

blog-0478459001385067473.jpgIt seems that this year has been the first year that talk about removing fighting from hockey has really resonated with people. In years previous it seems that the vast majority of hockey fans had been in favour of allowing fisticuffs in the game, but many are now singing another tune.

Ever since opening night this season when Montreal Canadiens’ tough guy George Parros took a freak fall when fighting Toronto Maple Leafs’ Colton Orr, smashed his head on the ice and ultimately leaving the veteran enforcer concussed, the debate on fighting in the NHL has gathered steam. Now whether the NHL is heading down that way is hard to tell, but with head shots being looked at and punished more severely than ever before it’s certain that the NHL is trying to limit player injuries. So, with that in mind it would make sense to think fighting could be next.

George Parros Injury in Fight With Colton Orr

When asked on their opinions about fighting in the game it seems that there have become three different stances on the issue. There are those who are absolutely for it, those who are completely opposed to fighting, and those who feel that fighting could be acceptable if various parameters were put in place. Many believe if things such as stricter penalties for fighting or allowing players to fight as long as the fights are not premeditated could be acceptable.

Now for me I would lean more towards the side of keeping fighting and at the most I would maybe make some harsher penalties for fighting. I feel one solution could be to implement the rule that I grew up playing with in minor hockey. This rule was simply that if you fought you were out for the remainder of the game unless the fight was late in the third period in which then a 1 game suspension would be assessed. This rule makes it so that players can fight, but they have to choose their battles and make sure that the fight is worth it.

Those who are opposed to fighting simply see it as an unnecessary part to the game and one that causes injuries. However, the fact is that all players playing the game know the risk going into fighting and know that injuries can happen, but when playing a sport that allows hitting and is strongly encouraged for physical play injuries are going to happen with or without fighting. In fact in both 2011 and in 2012 NHL players were polled on whether they wanted to keep fighting in the game and an overwhelmingly 98% of the 318 players polled said yes. So, if the players are all for it and understand the risks why not?

For those in favour of fighting another belief is the thought that fighting in hockey sells tickets. This could not be more false. I don’t believe there is a hockey fan out there who can truthfully say that they watch hockey for fighting and fighting only. Fans go to games to cheer on their teams and to see them win, fighting is extra. It is a part of the game that many fans might enjoy, but fighting is not what sells tickets.

In the end to me the biggest reason why fighting should remain in the NHL is to keep players safe, prevent devastating injuries, and reduce the amount of suspensions. This may seem like a crazy idea, but I stand by it and this is why.

A lot of fights in the NHL occur after a player on one team is threatened by another player on another team, either by a hit or something more dirty such as a vicious elbow or slash. In these instances fighting is usually seen as a way to dissolve the issue by intervening with the player who is threatening the opposing player. In most cases after a fight people seem to settle and the issue is resolved.

Now, in an NHL where there is no fighting I think chaos could ensue. For instance if someone throws a dirty hit or tries to go after Phil Kessel and Colton Orr is not allowed to come to his aid to help protect Kessel and settle the issue by going one on one with whoever went after him what will happen? Do you think the Maple Leafs are going to continue to let someone rough up their star player? Not at all, instead they are going to take matters into their own hands, likely by throwing a lot of hits at the player in question. However, if that doesn’t solve the problem the most likely way to stop this person will be to injure them, maybe a slash, maybe a dirty hit such as a head shot, etc. In the end what ends up happening, a player is put at risk of a much more severe injury when a simple fight may have alleviated the pressure while also removing fear from your star player allowing them to do what they do best.

Essentially I believe that without fighting, players will find another way to stick up for their players and if fighting isn’t an option then dirty hits and other overly physical play will be the answer and I feel that will cause many more injuries than fighting will. Most players believe the biggest injuries occur in a flash with the quick speed of the game. Hockey is a physical game and removing fighting will not change that.

As far as premeditated fights go the combatants are usually heavy weights who are waiting to square off against one another. However, I feel that they can also be the perfect grounds to step up for a player such as in the scenario described above. I also believe that premeditated fights can be safer than spare of the moment fights. In premeditated fights both fighters usually have the time to get ready and square off evenly with each other unlike in spare of the moment fights where players can be jumped from others following a devastating hit or so on. It is here players can be blindsided and severely hurt from unseen punches.

Some hockey fans might argue that a team that fills its fourth line with more talented forwards who can contribute offensively rather than enforcers and grinders can make a team much better, but it is not that easy. For one, in the new NHL the salary cap makes it pretty hard for a team to sign 12 offensively touted forwards. Two, a good team needs to be able to play good defensively and physically in their own end and in the opposition’s end of the ice as well, something that these physical type of players can provide. Third, if a team is hoping to have a fourth offensive line, that fourth line is going to need to be given more ice time in order to be successful, is it in a team’s best interest to cut the ice time of their top two scoring lines to make room for an underachieving fourth line? Fourth, enforcers allow for stars to play their game without the fear that some goon is going to come after them. Instead enforcers and fighting help to establish a code that harm our best players and their will be consequences.

Fighting is a very controversial issue and everyone can expect to hear a lot more about the debate on the matter as the season continues and so forth. Are my suggestions to the problem perfect, not likely, but at the end of the day accidents happen in such a physical game and we must come to accept that instead of looking to change it. Injuries happen, but as Canadiens’ defenseman Josh Gorges stated following the injury to George Parros, “I see more players get hurt from hits, collisions, from pucks, than I do from fights… I don’t think saying because a player got hurt in a fight that now we have to talk about taking fighting away. And I bet that if you ask George (Parros), he’ll be the first to agree with me on that one too.”

Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman

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Couldn't agree more.

Ban fighting from the NHL, and the league will surely see a rise in rat play, which in turn will lead to more injuries to key or star players than the NHL will know what to do with!


And for those non-hockey fans or those pseudo-fans who watch games for fights, thinking enforcers are these Cro-Magnon maniacs, I can tell you from personal experience that usually, hockey enforcers are some of the NICEST, considerate guys you are ever going to meet...off the ice anyways.


Granted, there ARE some goons who give enforcers a bad name, but thankfully those are being weeded out as the game has become more skilled based, and teams simply aren't stocking up their rosters with a bunch of fighters.


I've had a chance to meet guys like Andre Roy and Enrico Ciccone.

Two enforcers, who when they played, were two of the most feared in their primes. Both acted a bit crazy on the ice, both drove their coaches nuts with some of the penalties they took...but they were essential to keeping order on the ice, keep their star players from harm, keep the rat players in check....and both are some of the coolest PEOPLE one could ever meet! 

Never got to meet the late Derek Boogaard (RIP), but I hear the same about him from longtime hockey fans who have met the guy...monster on the ice, very cordial human being off.

The hated on-ice Chris Neil is another one, and I am sure there are many more.


But back on point...

If the NHL really does value its stars, its skill players and its product as a whole, then it best think very carefully before they banish any and all fighting from the game......unless of course, their plan is turn the ice rink over to the rodents.........

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Exactly... and when was the last time after Parros we really saw a player get hurt in a fight (there likely has been some but I dont remember hearing any).. Meanwhile headshots, hits from behind, etc have caused lots of injuries.. the same kinds of plays players will resort to if fighting is removed.

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I don't have any problem with fighting in the game except that I disagree with this assessment:
"if someone throws a dirty hit or tries to go after Phil Kessel and Colton Orr is not allowed to come to his aid to help protect Kessel and settle the issue by going one on one with whoever went after him what will happen? "

It is RARE that a player like Orr goes up against the guy that actually "went after" the other player. More often than not you wind up with a staged goonfest.

And that's because of the instigator. I do think tightening up the rules would help immensely - the suggestion that you are out for the rest of/next game is a good one, but IMO only if you also eliminate the instigator. Then if Player X takes a run at a top guy, Player X knows that a Colton Orr, Jay Rosehill or John Scott just might tune them up on their next shift. THAT would reduce the likelihood of Player X taking a cheap shot. It would also make the goons "more valuable" to their teams.

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Instigator rule is, and always has been, a TERRIBLE idea...its like giving a free shot to the other team with no fear of retaliation. Bogus.


It reminds me of warnings to both dugouts in baseball, AFTER only ONE batter on one team has been hit.....meaning no retaliation, essentially giving the beaning team a free shot.

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Really good blog ACG.


I don't the the instigator rule will ever be reversed.  Especially now that the NHL is facing a lawsuit that they haven't done enough to protect players. I also think that we will see tougher penalties towards fighting.  I wouldn't mind a game misconduct or as you said if fights take place late in the game they sit the next one out as well.  I'd be in favor also of say once a player has more than 3 fights in a season  they continue to get an extra game misconduct for every fight after 3.


@TropicalFruitGirl26 -- isn't by allowing the instigator you are allowing a free shot to attack another player?  Why should retaliation be allowed?  

The NHL has failed on several accounts to better protect players, but they got this one right in enforcing the Instigator rule.

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Nice blog. I love fighting in Hockey, but not fighting for fighting sake, clowns like Colton Orr, Mike Brown and Jordin Tootoo who cannot play the game and are their for the entertainment part of the game are ridiculous.

  Give me a good old fashioned hate like the Wings/Avalanche from not that awful long ago, where everyone fought everyone (What a lot of folks seem to forget is the fight that started the Mccarty/Lemieux war was actually between Forsberg and 'The Professor, Igor Larionov) and everyone was accountable. I think the instigator rule has ruined hockey in sooo many ways, allowing guys like Matt cooke to run rampant knowing he will never be held accountable without the other club being forced to play a man short.

  So lets leave fighting alone, if we remove it then slugs like Cooke can do as they damn well please without risk of any retribution at all. Fighting gives teams a chance to police the game and actually keep it clean.

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I disagree, Cookie cleaned up his act once the league slapped him with a significant suspension.  The fear of a 10 game suspension has players thinking they are accountable.

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@yave1964 pretty much summed up the major flaw of the Instigator Rule, @hf101 .


Opponents of it such as myself look at the "free shot" being given to, say, a rat player who doesn't get much ice time, but takes the opportunity to deliver a questionable and/or dangerous hit on a star player...even if it means he may be removed from the game.....without worrying at all that an enforcer on the other team (or anyone else) would retaliate unless they are willing to risk taking additional penalties themselves.


And the rat player in question would only then, if confronted, simply turtle up, refuse to answer for what he's done to the other player, and pretty much get what he wanted accomplished done: removing a star player (or at least limiting his effectiveness) through questionable means...and in the same stroke, possibly take with him off the ice anyone else on the opposition who may look to repay him for his deed, due to the, you guessed it, the Instigator Rule.


Take the Instigator Rule out, and yes, you WILL have retaliation for questionable plays, but then again, because a rat player KNOWS he will have to answer for whatever he is thinking of doing at some point in the game (and answer for it quite unpleasantly, generally speaking), he would probably think twice about any hair-brained type play to begin with.......case of players policing themselves.


That's the way I see it anyways, but there are many who view it that way as well.


As we can see, there are many facets to his issue...hopefully, the NHL finds some middle ground and doesn't let either the goon enforcers or rat agitators get an advantage over the other....because at that point, the star players the league is trying to protect, lose their effectiveness, and possibly playing time due to unnecessary injury.

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