National Hockey League Players Could End Fighting

I Suppose I’m Hockey’s Version Of A Tree-hugger — 

I’m not sure if that places me in the minority, but, yes, I prefer my shinny sans fisticuffs.  I find zero entertainment value in two large lads slapping each other upside the head simply because they have nothing better to do.  And, of course, they have nothing better to do because they can’t play hockey.  So they throw down on each other and those with a lust for blood whoop it up in their man caves, then grab another beer and another slice of pizza once the latest casualty has been carted off on a stretcher and all the teeth are scooped off the ice.

TreehuggerSome kind of fun, eh?

I realize this makes me approximately the 1,000,000,000,000,000th person to join the chin-wag about bare-knuckle brutality in hockey, but spare me your wrath. I’m not here to preach.  There shall be no sermon.

I mean, I could advance a variety of reasons why brawling should be banned. I could also provide just as many reasons why the National Hockey League must make room for the skill-challenged guard dogs who sit at the end of the bench until such time as a guard dog sitting on the end of the other team’s bench needs to be tuned up.  The thing is, you’ve already heard both sides of the debate.  Many times.

Cherry_Maclean3Seriously, how often have you seen Donald S. Cherry sit in his bully pulpit on Hockey Night in Canada and hear him preach the merits of duking it out?  I couldn’t even guess the number.  Let’s just say it’s more than one and less than 1,000.  Naturally, it’s always the same, tired tripe.  We need the guard dogs to protect the stars.  It’s a man’s game played by good, ol’ Canadian boys with no teeth and bent noses.  If there was no fighting there’d be more stick work.  A guy who wears a visor shouldn’t fight.  Bobby Orr could take care of himself.  Didn’t need protection.  Gretzky scored all those goals because he had Semenko on his left flank.  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Those of us on the opposite side of the discussion, meanwhile, are limp-wristed, left wing commie pinkos who ride bikes to work and try to save endangered species.  We point to the Olympics and wonder how it is that there’s no scrapping.  Every player keeps his gloves on his hands.  The answer, of course, is obvious: There’s no fighting in Olympic hockey because a) it’s not permitted and b) no-talent thugs need not apply.  You must actually be able to play the game to work your way onto an Olympic team roster.  Dave Semenko, for example, never would have qualified to join Team Canada had there been NHL participation in the Games back in the day.

Trouble is, it’s one thing to stock a roster for a two-week tournament and quite another to stock 30 rosters for a seven-month season.  Hence the guard dogs sitting at the end of the bench.

Be certain of this: The goons aren’t going away any time in the foreseeable future.  Thus, on the heels of the George Parros faceplant the other night in his dustup with Colton Orr, the fighting in hockey debate rages like the hubs of hell.  It was an ugly and unsettling incident.  Players and fans feared the worst.  Big George didn’t die, though.  He survived and can look forward to resuming a career as a back alley thug on blades.

So let me say this about all of that: All the huffing and puffing in the world won’t blow that house down until enough NHL players say they’ve had enough.

Ultimately, the players have to sign off on any movement to ban brawling and, for now, they believe it to be a necessary part of the game. That, really, should end the debate.

That’s why I’m not going to go all pontifical.  If the players want/need fighting, I’m okay with it.  Let the boys brawl and we’ll all hope the worst possible scenario doesn’t unfold.  If, on the other hand, the day arrives whereby they’d prefer to play without fighting, I’m fine with that, too.

There’s no right or wrong here until the players decide there’s a right way to play hockey and a wrong way to play hockey.

In the meantime, the boys will soldier on with their vigilante justice and their dog-eared mantra: If we can’t beat ’em, we’ll beat ’em up.


  1. The only way I see fighting gone is if a player dies during a scrap, which will be followed by a wrongful death lawsuit. I could do without fighting, but I think it is here to stay. The NHL and NHLPA will need to agree with stiffer punishment to those who use their sticks and fists to settle the score. But since the NHLPA is more concerned about keeping players employed, that won’t happen anytime soon either. Thus, fighting won’t be leaving anytime soon. A complex issue to say the least.
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    • Patti Dawn Swansson says

      As I wrote, it’s all down to the players. If they want to eliminate fighting, they can. But, as you say, they won’t.

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