Hockey is a tough person’s sport. It’s not golf, it’s not curling, its not archery. There’s physical contact amongst players. Even Hall Of Fame goalie Ken Dryden had a say in this. Here’s an article in today’s Globe and Mail: http://m.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/dryden-case-for-fighting-in-hockey-continues-to-get-weaker-and-weaker/article15232138/?service=mobile It’s true, they cause concussions, and let it be clear, I am not pro-concussion. I think it’s a horrible result, and it makes me reconsider the need for it in hockey, but after some thinking, I still believe there is a need for fighting in hockey.
In light of yesterday’s “fight” between Braden Holtby and Ray Emery, there has been a new call to ban fighting in games. But was yesterday’s “fight” really a fight? I honestly don’t think so. It was just one goalie beating up another goalie.
I do not believe that has a fair place in hockey. We spoke with Providence State Friars and Calgary Flames goalie Jon Gillies who gave his two cents as a goalie and from a third party perspective regarding fighting in hockey, “I think fighting will always be part of the game, and goalie fights will always be a unique form of entertainment, but in cases such as the Flyers game last night, it seemed wrong to allow that goalie fight to happen, as Holtby didn’t even get his gloves off.” That really summarizes it all. Fighting is an ingrained part of hockey. Passion is an ingrained part of hockey. Kelowna Rocket’s goaltender Jordon Cooke has a say on it as well, “Fighting is a part of passion. Hockey is a passionate sport. Fighting is going to happen out of a heated situation or even standing up for a teammate. It happens due to passion for the game and therefore I believe fighting should not be banned.” But yesterday’s fisticuffs wasn’t a fight. Holtby didn’t even have his gloves off!
But back to the main topic. We need fighting in hockey. It enforces a code. You don’t just run over our star players and get away with it. To simplify it quite a bit, fighting is like the punishment your receive for doing something you shouldn’t do. In a way, it keeps the game safer. If you know you will get pummeled by a guy who’s 6’6 if you body check the other team’s star player and possibly injure him, you won’t do it. Kelowna Rockets captain and Washington Capitals prospect Madison Bowey believes fighting keeps players safe from cheap shots, ” No I don’t think it should be banned because without fighting we’ll get more guys running around and then we’ll start seeing more and more cheap shots.” Teammate and New Jersey Devils prospect Myles Bell echoes that point. “It shouldn’t be banned, I think without fighting a lot of guys will become a little braver and take liberties. Keeping fighting in the game keeps players honest.”
Again, I’m not pro-concussion, and many of you will say, “Oh so you think it’s fine for people to be pummeled day after day as a living don’t you?” No I don’t believe that. I think it’s horrible. But we can use this as an opportunity to further the research regarding brain injuries. I think the NHL has gone in the right steps to lower the risk of fighting. By not allowing players to take off helmets is a right step. It lower’s the risk that players have to hiting their head on the ice. We will never completely eradicate concussions in our sport. But we can certainly lower the risk.
Wayne Gretzky famously said that he does not support fighting in hockey, but in hindsight, how important do you think Marty McSorely and Dave Semenko were in his success? Without them, would he have been “the best player of all time” or would he just be one of the greatest of all time?
Do I believe the need for enforcers to drop the gloves for no reason? No. But I do believe in fighting for a cause. It’s the fact that there is an unwritten code in hockey. If you take out our star, we’ll take you out. The code is what keeps players from doing reckless things on the ice. It keeps everything in check. When we asked Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings and New York Islander’s prospect about the need for fighting, this is what he told me. “Well I feel like there’s a need for it at times, but I feel they could completely get rid of the senseless and needless fights.” I’m interpreting this on my own, and you can do so too, but I think he stresses the point that we need fights to keep the unwritten rules in check, but do we really need to get in a fight for the heck of getting into a fight?
I think a lot of you would think that i’m biased because I don’t have quotes saying that they should take fighting out of hockey. However, I asked quite a few players regarding this issue. Regretfully, only the players that replied to me are the ones I have quotes of. And they all said we should keep fighting in hockey. They are not all one type of person. We have goalies, we have defenseman, we have forwards. We have first rounders, we have players still in juniors. By no mean am I saying no hockey player out there thinks fighting should be banned. That’s simply not true. But in a time where everyone is stating there case that the NHL needs to ban fighting, I’m just here to argue that we need it. But you don’t have to listen to me. But you should listen to the players. They’re the ones out there fighting. They’re the ones experiencing the pain.
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