Does Fighting still have a play in hockey?
Since the dawn of hockey, fighting has been a part of the game. In recent times, however, fighting has come under criticism. Due to the tragic deaths of former players, people outside of the game are calling for and end to it. However, within the game itself, most players and most fans like say that fighting has a place in the game and shouldn’t be removed.
One of the biggest arguments that supporters of fighting use is that a fight can set the tone for a game. My grandfather, who has been watch hockey since the 1950’s said that, “A good fight can tell you how the entire game will be. If there is a fight within the first minute, it will be an intense game, but that usually only happens during rivalries.” Another argument that fighting should be left in hockey is that the players can police themselves. In the video below it shows Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber fighting Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog after he delivered a big body check on Weber’s teammate Roman Josi.
It is seen as Weber enforcing the unwritten “code” that the players have. Landeskog, not a known fighter, answers the “code” and after the fight there is no further need for retaliation. Another major reason why fighting has a place in hockey is that most fans are in favor of it. They say violence sells and it is very true in hockey. In some instances, when a team goes through many years of poor play, fighting might be one of the only things that can be used.
“I think fighting defiantly has a place in hockey. It can totally change the momentum in a game for either team,” says Oswego State defender Victoria Blake. Momentum change can happen in hockey in many ways. A big hit or a goal can swing things one way but nothing does it more than a big fight. It can also be used, mostly in playoffs since team could possibly play seven games against each other, to send a message to the team for the next game.
On the other side of the argument there is a group of people that say fighting has no place in hockey. “While I do think fighting has a place in hockey, I can see how it can be considered dangerous. With the safety issues, no wonder it isn’t allow in NCAA hockey,” say Oswego State defender Alyssa Brockmann. One of the biggest arguments for removing fighting is safety. With the tragic deaths of some players, such as Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak, and Ryan Rypien, the NHL has come under criticism for still allowing fights to happen. While Boogaard accidently overdosed on a combination of painkillers and alcohol, Belak and Rypien took their own lives. Many believe that is was head injuries that they sustained while fighting that contributed to their untimely deaths. Knockouts can occur, and the possibility of a concussion is always a risk. Or in a case of what happened to retired player George Parros, one can fall face first onto the ice. Parros, a career fighter, was fighting Colton Orr on the first game of the season. It was the second fight of the night between the two. While swinging wildly, Parros fell onto the ice face first and was briefly unconscious. He had to be stretchered off the ice, despite his attempts to leave under his own power.
Another argument is that the role of the enforcer is being phased out of the game. More and more skillful players are joining the NHL ranks and fewer and fewer enforcers or “goons” as some like to call them aren’t or there simply isn’t a spot on the roster for them. In the past, names like Rob Ray and Tie Domi were almost always on the roster because they were needed back them. Now in days teams are choosing to go with players of skill rather than an enforcer. Another problem that enforcers run into now is that everyone will fight if they have to. As seen in the video before Shea Weber cut a teammate off to fight another player.
Overall I do believe that there is a place for fighting in hockey. Sure no other professional sport allows fighting in it but that is because I believe it makes hockey unique. And the great thing about the issue is that major media outlets are still talking about it.
Sure pre-planned fights and end of game brawls are something that should be phased out but if both combatants are willing and no cheap shots are thrown, then I see no problem with fighting in hockey. I believe it is here to stay.