Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is Fighting in Hockey Necessary?

For just over the last 2 months there has been an increase on the debate on whether fighting should be allowed in hockey, and if or if not it even has a place in the game any more. There have been strong arguments for both sides.

There is the old school mentality that fighting is necessary in order to self police the game and keeps cheap shots such as hits from behind and shots to the head out of the game...clearly that is not the case. I would be very surprised with no fighting if there was any more then there already is because it certainly doesn’t seem like having the nuclear option on your bench is doing anything to deter players from these questionable infractions. There have never been a time where this type of tactic has been used. Back in the day (more the 70’s era and the Broad Street Bullies of Philadelphia) there was way more stick work and hacks and slashes that escalated into bench clearing brawls. Now with a simple rule enforcement that is drastically cut back. That just proves that provided that the league makes a mandate to officials to call the game properly there is little need for the goon role anymore, A penalty for an infraction is more effective to punish a TEAM rather then put away 2 tough guys for 5 minutes each that otherwise would get 3 minutes of total ice time and be on the bench for the rest of the game.

There is nothing more annoying then the 2 tough guys who fight for the sake of fighting in a staged event at centre ice that offers nothing to the game, where there is no reason for it and is payback for nothing except to justify them being in the lineup and not a healthy scratch of out of the league all together.

The only thing worse then the staged fight is the fight that ensues from a clean, I repeat, clean hit that either looks big or sounds big and all of a suddenly there needs to be some sort of payback. That is where the rules need to be enforced. A clean hockey hit should deserve no retaliation except for a hit in the same manor later on if and when the opportunity arises...don’t want to get blown up, don’t skate through the middle with your head down or don’t admire your pass for too long. A body check into the boards should not be an automatic invitation to drop the gloves and throw hands.

Football (probably the most violent of the "Big Sports") - anything close to a fight is 15 yards and a possible ejection, suspensions and fines.
Baseball - The odd hit batter but any fight will result in an ejection, suspensions and fines
Basketball - Hand slapping and that will also result in ejection, suspensions and fines
NASCAR- Even bump another car let alone the driver results in loss of points, suspensions, probation and fines and a trip to meet with the officials and Mr. France.

If fighting is so much a part of the game, why was it that the Pay-Per View was cancelled where it was just people fighting with skates on who would fight for no reason? Why is it not at the All Star game with a 16 or 8 man tournament to see who the top heavyweight in the league is as part of the skills competition? If that sounds silly so does the argument of fighting in the games.

If you want to see a fight there are many options at your fingertips; WWE, MMA, UFC, Boxing and Martial Arts Competitions.

When is hockey the most watched and the most interest being paid to it? World Juniors, World Championships, Olympics, and Playoffs. There is little or no fighting in any of these events and it is some of the best hockey you will get to watch. There is a flow to the game, it is fast, it is exciting, there is even hitting...yet little or no fighting. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? IS THIS HOCKEY??

The answer is YES and it is very entertaining. I think that perhaps hockey should fight Cancer and that's about it.

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