Oct 1, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens right wing George Parros (15) and Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Colton Orr (28) fight during the third period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

SenShot Daily Poll - Fighting In Hockey

The fighting debate is going to rear its head in the coming days and weeks in light of the George Parros injury suffered last night, as well as the John Scott-Phil Kessel incident in the pre-season.

 

Both sides have a point.

On one side, it is and has been a part of the game of hockey as long as anyone can remember.  It is a method of solving grievances, no matter how barbaric it may seem.  Players who participate in such actions are aware of the risks, and some realize that the paycheque of being an NHL player outweighs those risks.  Many of them wouldn’t be in the league if they couldn’t fight. They are grown men and as long as the league allows it, they can make the decision to drop the gloves or not to drop the gloves.  Many argue that a ban on fighting would increase the number of “cheap shots” or reckless play because certain types of players can run around freely with little fear of physical repercussion.

On the other hand, the game is constantly changing and rules are being put into place to make it safer.  Case in point, the “don’t remove your helmet before a fight” rule.  In the very same game that Parros was injured, Mark Fraser and Brandon Prust both agreed to remove their helmets and each take the extra minor penalty for doing so.  So players will find a way around the rules to settle the differences.  Fighting is also a method of intimidation, as Kessel wanted no part of  Scott, and the resulting stick-swinging put a black mark on the game yet again.  Many of the “goons” in the NHL have no part being there if they can’t play the game.

The NHL is walking a fine line, between allowing people to make decisions on their own, and to put an end to a tradition.  It might be dramatic, but at some point, someone is going to get killed on the ice, whether through a fight or otherwise.  And if it is because of a fight, can the NHL honestly look at the public and say that they took all reasonable precautions to avoid the tragedy?  They have put a ban on headshots but allow two willing (or sometimes unwilling) combatants to square off and punch each other in the head with closed fists, and that is acceptbable.

I don’t know what the answer is.  If you do take out fighting, what’s next?  Hitting?

There is no right or wrong answer.  You will never please everyone no matter what decision the league ends up making.  The pressure will be on t0 ban fisticuffs, just like headshots were the target before.

 

All I know is that as players get bigger and stronger, the stakes get higher, scenes like this are more frightening.  The NHL is fortunate they have not had the fatality that changes everything.  YET.

 

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