With so much speculation over fighting in the NHL the last few weeks, we decided to analyze the question of whether the NHL should ban fighting. There have been some recent incidents that have people begging for it to leave the game, while others say it's part of the tradition. Hockey is the only one of the four major sports to allow their players to fight with little consequence. Is it time for them to get rid of it for good? Let's take a look at the pros and cons of fighting in the NHL.
- It provides teams with a momentum shifter if their team wins the fight. By winning the fight, players and fans get riled up.
- Reduces the amount of cheap shots in the NHL and provides players with a fair chance of protecting themselves. If the NHL eliminated fighting, we could see more cheap shots and illegal hits as players will look for some way to take out their anger and frustration.
- Statements can be made by enforcers as they fight to protect their star teammates. If a star player on a team gets hit hard, enforcers like to drop the gloves and go after the player who hit them.
- The fans still get excited for it. With the popularity of boxing and mixed martial arts, the UFC in particular, people love to watch others fight – plain and simple.
- It's a part of the game. It's been a part of the game for so long and people don't like change.
- Players can get injured. It happens a lot. Most recently, George Parros of the Montreal Canadiens was yanked down and his head smacked the ice. Was it an accident? Probably, but that's what happens when two players fight each other. Parros suffered a concussion from the fall.
- Not all fighting is consensual. As we saw in the preseason, Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs was targeted while on the ice and almost got forced into a fight. Kessel resorted to defending himself by swinging his stick. Then an all-out brawl broke loose including players jumping off their benches to get involved in the action. Another dangerous aspect of fighting that could turn fatal.
- On the topic of injuries, it could happen to anyone. Why would you want one of your players to risk an injury and lose their season? Is sending a message through fighting really more important than having that player on your team?
- Worse than injuries, what if someone died during a fight? Based on the amount of fights that have taken place over the years in the NHL it is very unlikely, but not impossible. What if a blow to the back of the head or someone's head hitting the ice caused too much damage? What would the NHL do and how would fans and players react?
By eliminating fighting, teams could also focus on adding more skill players to their roster instead of enforcers. Former Detroit Red Wing Captain and Hockey Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman spoke out on the issue of fighting in the NHL.
I believe a player should get a game misconduct for fighting. We penalize and suspend players for making contact with the head while checking in an effort to reduce head injuries, yet we still allow fighting. We're stuck in the middle and need to decide what kind of sport do we want to be. Either anything goes and we accept the consequences or take the next step and eliminate fighting.
Yzerman is the current General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning and it can be seen from his comments that he wants either harsher penalties for fighting or for the league to eliminate it as a whole.
It's been a part of it forever. You got to be careful about taking out rules. Then you see all these things you never thought about. I think there's always been deterrents to eliminate fighting…I think you keep it the way it is.
I don't think it needs to be banned. There's obviously going to be people who talk about this after an incident that happened with Parros the other night. It definitely has a place to the point where we believe it's a big part of the game. It keeps the game in order.
Whether it's a hit or doing something cheap on the ice, players don't want to do that because they'll have to stick up for themselves and have to fight. You see it more often today where there aren't too many staged fights and more fights if a guy gets hit. Okay, we'll go after that guy because he made a hit on our skilled guy or something. It kind of puts a stamp on what happened and you move on from it. I think it kind of keeps the game in order. I think if you ask any player, they want to keep fighting in the game for that reason.
More players on the team commented on the topic and they all shared the same views as Quenneville and Kane. Fighting is a dangerous aspect to the game, but it does mostly keep things in order. If you eliminate fighting, you open yourself to all kinds to possibilities that could permanently damage and harm those involved. By having fighting in the game, it provides players the opportunity to take out their aggression, while not doing anything illegal.
Right now the NHL needs to keep fighting in the game as it will turn for the worst if they eliminate it. There have been incidents in the past where players take cheap shots, but like Kane said, they have to defend themselves later by fighting. If you get rid of fighting, players could take cheap shots on their opponent and the other team couldn't retaliate in a proper manner.
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