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PHT’s top 13 of ’13: Anti-fighting movement gains momentum

Dec 25, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT

Hockey is a sport that fosters passionate debate, but few topics have as entrenched supporters and dissenters as much as fighting.

To some, fighting is at the core of the game and an integral part of the NHL; others see it as barbaric, outdated, and, in the age of increasing awareness of concussions, downright irresponsible.

This year saw an increase in the debate and new momentum for those that oppose sparring matches. With head injuries becoming an increasing concern, the fear that fights might lead to concussions is a key argument against it. One of the better recent examples of that is George Parros, who has dealt with two fight-related concussions this season.

The first one you could write off as an unfortunate accident, but the second is harder to dismiss:

Even before Parros’ second head injury of 2013, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman wondered why the league was handing out suspensions for head hits courtesy of checks, but fighting was still penalized by a mere five-minute penalty.

“We’re stuck in the middle and need to decide what kind of sport do we want to be,” Yzerman argued. “Either anything goes and we accept the consequences, or take the next step and eliminate fighting.”

Yzerman was joined by Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero, Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, and legendary coach Scotty Bowman in his call for change.

At the same time, there’s clearly a fair amount of fan support for fighting, at least among PHT readers that overwhelmingly voted it belongs in the NHL. The players have continually, and overwhelmingly, supported its role in the game, too. Ditto for general managers like Calgary’s Brian Burke.

Why the support for fighting? Depends who you ask. Some advocates support dropping the gloves as a form of entertainment and an expression of the ferocity of the sport; others argue it actually prevents injuries by allowing players to police themselves. Still others feel fights can stop a bad situation from getting worse.

The latter is certainly the belief of New Jersey Devils enforcer Cam Janssen, who suggested that Boston’s Shawn Thornton‘s recent attack on Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik wouldn’t have happened if Orpik had agreed to fight after delivering a hard hit to forward Loui Eriksson.

Other players, like Detroit’s Daniel Alfredsson, feel that’s an old-school view that shouldn’t be followed any more. Instead, Alfredsson thinks that hits should be ruled on by the referees and left at that.

Finally, it’s worth noting that not all fights are created equal. When Philadelphia goaltender Ray Emery skated the length of the ice to force Capitals netminder Braden Holtby to fight him, there was widespread condemnation.

NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan “hated it” and commissioner Gary Bettman also voiced his displeasure.

But while this year’s incidents may have helped fuel the debate over fighting, it doesn’t sound like any major rule changes are on the near horizon for the NHL, which has repeatedly maintained “there is not an appetite to change the rules with respect to fighting.”

  1. alicesrightfootesq - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    NEANDERTHALS: You’re done here.

  2. killerpgh - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    Most of these anti-fighting issues don’t really involve 2 willing guys fighting. It’s when you have a player doing something stupid that isn’t actually a fight that the anti-fightering grow in numbers. The Bruins/Habs had a fight filled game a few years back and I didn’t hear one thing about banning fighting after that game. A bunch of fights (that the Bruins won), but every one of those fights was done the right way. A few weeks later the Penguins/Islanders had a fight filled games and there were 2 issues that gave the anti-fighting group material to use. But they weren’t really “fighting issues” as they were players crossing the line. 1) Martin goes after Talbot in a way similar to Burtuzzi/Moore. Thankfully Talbot appeared to see/sent in coming as the bare hand punch from behind was coming at is head. Not a fighting problem if one guy don’t see coming. 2) Gillies knocks out Tangradi why a flying elbow, continues to pound on him while he is concussed on the ice and then taunts Tangradi from the run way while the trainer is working on him. Again not really a fighting issue if it’s only one person involved in the fight.

    Sure bad things can happen when to willing players have an honest fight. But hockey is a risky sport. Players get hurt from legal checks. Should they take hitting out of the game? Players have been almost blinded by pucks and sticks. Should be take those out of the game? Players have almost been killed by skate blades. Should we take that out of the game?

    98% of the 318 member of the NHLPA who filled out the players survey in the 2011/12 season didn’t want fighting banished. http://www.playerspoll.ca/results/20112012-results/on-ice/should-fighting-be-completely-banished Until the players who actually play the game decide they don’t won’t it in the game anymore I see no argument any outsider can really make to get rid of it.

    • alicesrightfootesq - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:54 PM

      That extra stuff exists solely because the NHL tolerates, if not encourages fighting.

    • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      The NHL is making a concentrated effort to protect players from concussions by suspending players for head shots. In other words, any hit where they deem the head was the primary point of contact. When players are throwing punches, are they not targeting the head? Why does the NHL tolerate targeting the head during a fight but not when it comes from a body check? Spectacle? Violence sales?

      • shaundre93 - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:46 AM

        If that’s your take on it then high sticks to the head should be suspendable too. Its totally different when you have two willing opponents as opposed to one opponent being rocked by an illegal hit. The players are being educated on the consequences and still overwhelmingly support fighting. Concussion protocol is 100x stricter than ever before. And honestly, how often in a hockey fight do you see a blow that would cause significant head damage? Not often. They aren’t throwing as hard as boxers. I’ve actually read a report before that suggested hockey fights aren’t that dangerous because while standing on skates on ice its nearly impossible to deliver a damaging blow. Aside from a group of 9 former players, no one has come out and said they regret fighting. I’m sure they regret continuing to play through concussions, but not fighting in general

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:59 AM

        If the high stick is intentional or deemed as the primary point of contact, then yes.

        Hockey players are willing participants. Yet! When Brown hit Hertl that provoked another hail of comments asking for Brown to be suspended. Injuries due to accidents will happen. Why is a punch to the head which causes a concussion legal? Are you going to ask the banks if they want to be regulated? Maybe you should ask the mob hit men if they should stop killing? What do you think their answer would be? How about asking the tobacco companies if they should stop selling cigarettes? There is not protocol for punches to the head. Players fight, go the box for 5 minutes and then take the next shift. So you can’t say that there is very little damage from fights. We do know that punches to the head can cause concussions. The NHL has proven that players are 43 times more likely to miss a game from fighting as opposed to a hit. Fighting is not the issue. Concussions from fighting is the real issue here.

      • shaundre93 - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:18 AM

        I’d like to hear where your numbers come from, I’ve only ever heard the opposite, that high hits cause X times more damage than fighting. I don’t even have to run numbers, I can just use my eyes and know that there is no way there are FORTY THREE TIMES more games missed from fighting than checking. That’s ridiculous. If you’re so against violence, then you’re watching the wrong sport. Violence is human nature and hockey is the only game that takes that into account. You say I can’t say there is no damage from fights because the players return to action after 5 min? Sounds like quite the opposite to me. There are so many things that are already being put into place to reduce head injuries in fights. Mandatory visors, can’t remove helmets and refs are being encouraged to step in sooner. Couple that with what is hopefully a continued decline in staged fights and I think the issue of fighting is old news

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        “I don’t even have to run numbers, I can just use my eyes and know that there is no way there are FORTY THREE TIMES more games missed from fighting than checking.” hahahahaha! 😂 So much for science I guess. You just see….. Wow! If you’re so much into fighting on skates then I suppose you won’t be watching the Olympics, or the Stanley Cup finals (Only two fights last year). And if you like fighting so much I guess you don’t watch any other team sport. Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer. No fighting == you don’t watch.

        The NHL hockey operations came out with those numbers and they published their findings. I suggest you do a bit of research before pretending you write anything worth reading.

      • killerpgh - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        Since you assume he like fighting and that means he doesn’t like other sports or Olympic is it safe to assume you don’t like/watch the NHL because there is fighting? See how foolish that sounds.

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        read all the comments before inserting yourself in a thread otherwise you come across as rather unintelligent.

      • killerpgh - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        Considering the fact that all these replies are to a post by me I wouldn’t consider it inserting myself into a thread. I have read all the thread.

      • shaundre93 - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        So you stand by the fact that for every game missed for a hit, there are 43 games missed for fighting? So why then have I watched Shawn Thornton amass probably the most fighting majors in the NHL over the last 7 seasons and miss hardly any time (fighting related or otherwise) while I have seen several Bruins have their careers ended or put in jeopardy by illegal hits? Bergeron, Savard, Horton, Eriksson…

        That’s my eye test and it doesn’t add up.

        Further more, NOWHERE have I stated that I only watch for fighting, I simply feel it is necessary at times. Theres no fighting in the Olympics, and that’s OK. Its only a two week tournament once every four years. If they played a full 82 games plus playoffs every season, I guarantee emotions would run higher and things could get out of hand with big hits, slashes and other cheap shots. Ive stated in other posts I don’t like staged fights, but I like fights born of emotion or in defense of a cheap hit. That’s why you only see a couple fights in the post season. No staged fights, only real fights. That’s how it should be. I don’t want hockey to be this fight filled gong show that you seem to think it must be if fighting is allowed. There are simply times when its appropriate and when those times arise it adds an enormous amount of energy and emotion into the game.

        Without fighting, the game would remain just as dangerous. Players would be more willing to take liberties with others and when emotions boiled over you would have more incidents like the Orpik / thornton one. That’s what kills me about anti fighting people jumping all over that incident. That was not a result of fighting. That was a result of NOT fighting and a foreshadowing of the would be NHL sans fighting

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        shaundre, you wrote, ” If you’re so against violence, then you’re watching the wrong sport.” To me equates to “don’t watch hockey if you don’t like fighting.” What does one have to do with the other? Then, sarcastically wrote that you probably don’t watch the Olympic hockey because there are no fights, or the SCF because there were only two fights last year. How boring! Right? I don’t make up statistics on the fly. The dept of NHL Hockey Operations conducted the survey in 2011 and came up with those numbers. Not me. I’m sure if you try to educate yourself you’ll come across some interesting facts that you can share with us. Ex: scientific data that proves eliminating fighting will increase the number of cheap shots.

        There were actually 55,911 legal hits made, assuming anything recorded as a “hit” in the stats is a legal hit. So there were 1,747 hits per percentage point of man-games lost due to legal hit-related concussions. This implies that fighting is over 43 times more likely to result in a man-game lost to a concussion than a legal hit is. Any claim that legal hits are more dangerous than fighting, due to the number of concussions caused, is a dangerously specious one. Unfortunately, we don’t have any measure of illegal or accidental hits, so we cannot perform similar calculations for those events.

        A study by the NHL’s Hockey Operations department, released this past April, looked at concussions in the league over the past two seasons.

        http://www.hockeyprospectus.com/puck/article.php?articleid=1131

        Now your turn! Show me the data indicating eliminating fighting will increase cheap shots. Perhaps you can convince Yzerman, Bowman, Shero and Rutherford. Good luck!

      • sunderlanding - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        That’s such a stupid argument. If this was really about player safety people would want hitting banned as well as fighing. WAY more players get injured as a result of hitting than fighting, so if you want to clean up the league get rid of hitting as well. If it’s injurys you’re concerned about that’s what you have to do. People get hurt it will never be perfectly safe, and if two guys want to go at it, and willingly exchange head shots (much different than targetting someone’s head who is unaware) let them do it. It’s part of hockey tradition, and part of the sport, and really if UFC and boxing are legal why would we ban fighting?

      • shaundre93 - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        I like how you allude to four higher ups who are against fighting as if their word outweighs the 98% of players who are in favor of fighting. It’s the opinion of the players that not being allowed to fight would increase cheap shots. Obviously there is no science to defend that. please find me some scientific evidence that contradicts my belief if science is the be all end all for you.

        As far as the violence issue you referred to.. is the whole game not violent? If you are so against having even the possibility of a head injury, how can you watch a fast paced contact sport like this?

        The fact of the matter is the players want it to stay. They are being educated and know the consequences yet they continue to support it. What more do you need? Case closed right there as far as im concerned

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        You want it to stay because you like to watch the violence. Case closed right there as far as you’re concerned.

      • Paul Busch - Dec 26, 2013 at 7:21 PM

        NHL data reports that 8% of concussions are caused by hockey fights versus hockey hits. But you have to take into account the number of occurrences of both to get a true representation of the risk. When you look at the statistics you find that a hockey fight can be 40 times more likely to cause a concussion versus a hockey hit. Data can be found here –

        http://itsnotpartofthegame.blogspot.ca/2013/02/hockey-fights-and-concussions-gospel-of.html

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:13 PM

        that is what I’ve been writing here for months.

  3. hockeyflow33 - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    No it hasn’t, this is NBC pushing their own agenda.

    • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      Is NBC also behind the concussion law suit?

      • packerswin96 - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        Do you really think that most concussions are caused by fights? 99% of concussions in this NHL are caused by 1. the equipment worn by players 2. no respect by players and making bad dirty hits 3. players are much bigger and faster than even in the 80’s yet ice surface remains same.

      • patthehockeyfan - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        In fact, packers, fights are the leading cause of concussions. I’m sure joey4id will respond in a moment with statistics.

        I just couldn’t help commenting about your remark: “99% of concussions in this NHL are cause by 1. the equipment worn by players.”

        Equipment causing concussions. Please!

        Getting knocked in the head causes concussions.

      • shaundre93 - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        According to Hockey operations fighting accounts for 8% of all concussions. Your boy joey should agree since he is the one who encouraged me to find that info

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        Good job! Ban fighting and you decrease concussions by almost 8%. Ban head shots and reduce concussions by even more. Right! Only thing with the banning of head shots is that GMs voted against such a rule in 2011 opting for illegal checks to the head. And I’m not making that up. Check it out. 8% here, 4% there, 20% here and it all adds up.

      • hockeyflow33 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        The concussion lawsuit is an absolute joke; the case is made up by guys who barely played in the NHL and are in for a money grab.

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:01 PM

        of course the law suit is a joke…. concussions are no joke either yet you just can’t wait to see 2 players punch themselves silly. Because fights can help determine who will score the next goal and to win the game.

  4. nunan - Dec 25, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    It really hasn’t gained momentum. The media talk doesn’t equate to actual momentum bc the people who actually make these decisions overwhelmingly support fighting.

  5. blomfeld - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    THERE WILL BE BLOOD

    Violence: the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation … this definition associates ‘intentionality’ with the committing of the act itself, irrespective of the outcome it produces … generally speaking, anything that is turbulent or excited in an injurious, damaging or destructive way, or presenting risk accordingly, may be described as violent or occurring violently, even if not signifying violence (by a person and against a person).

    The bottom line friends is that fighting is no less ‘integral’ to the game of hockey than pucks, sticks or frozen ice. In fact, an argument could be made that violence as such is nothing more than ‘nature in motion’ which is both inevitable and necessary. And this is so not just in hockey, but with all things in life where ‘static & inert forces come into contact with those that are aggressive & fluid’ (ie: from Stransky’s lecture at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, March 14, 2012). Obviously nobody wants anyone to be seriously harmed during an on-ice brawl, the same as nobody wants anybody to be upset or harmed in everyday life. And yet these things continue to happen regardless, for better or for worse?

    • critter69 - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:41 PM

      “The bottom line friends is that fighting is no less ‘integral’ to the game of hockey. . . .”

      Might I remind people that slavery was “an integral part of life” for well over 2,000 years? It’s even mentioned in the Xian bibble as something the Xians’ jebus and Saul spoke about, and in a manner that wasn’t perceived as ‘unfavorable’.

      • blomfeld - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:15 AM

        and might I remind you that we still have slavery today, albeit 2013 style …

  6. provguard - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Hockey before the physical tolerance there was skill. Hockey is just such a beautiful fluid game to have to be interrupted with bloody fighting. First of all, these so-called willing to fight just might need some therapy after their brains have been knocked from side to side in their heads. Second, it is a game of skills, and SHOULD NOT be match of intimidations. Heck, I know how to get angry, but skating is not one of my talents.

    For your UFC fans? Go to UFC….

  7. Moop - Dec 26, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    The anti-fighting movement has not “gained momentum” in any shape, way, or form. It’s a very small minority of members of the media and basically Yzerman for those actually within the league. The players understand that fighting is necessary and want it in the game and I don’t know a single fan who wants fighting completely removed.

    • patthehockeyfan - Dec 26, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      and I don’t know a single fan who wants fighting completely removed.

      you do now

      • hockeyflow33 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        No, we still don’t.

  8. 950003cups - Dec 26, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    Anti-fighting fans don’t pay the bills. There’s too few of them. Its the same people that will jump to anti-checking, then anti-slapshots. They just want to impose their PC agenda just to fulfill their ego. To feel important. The owners and the league knows that these poisonous insects don’t have the cash to carry the league if the pro-contact fans stop watching.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:04 AM

      Cups, I see a few faulty assumptions and some name-calling. I’ve been a fan for over 50 years and have seen how fighting has evolved from most players fighting at least occasionally (usually out of anger), with bench-clearing brawls, players charging into the stands, to the current spectacle of mostly designated fighters agreeing to fight for no reason other than exciting the fans and teammates. Everyone not in denial knows those guys risk serious immediate injury and longterm health disasters. If the NHL increases the penalty for fighting from 5 minutes to a game misconduct with suspensions for multiple offenses, the modern phenomena of appointment fights will go away, but there will still be an occasional tussle like one sees in MLB, NFL and NBA. And we’ll still have checking (once the dimmer bulbs learn how to not target heads; there was a LOT of great hip checking when I was younger), and slap shots. I’ve never heard of anyone seeking to ban those. And if we’re lucky, with a roster spot open after the guys who can only fight leave, perhaps even more great hockey.

  9. bencia823 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:06 AM

    As far as the “why can you punch somebody in a fight but not check them in the game” point is concerned:

    There is a huge difference from a hit you see coming and one you don’t. In a fight, you can see the punches coming, protect yourself, and have a ref jump in before things get out of hand. On a high check, you cant defend yourself and nobody will be able to save you in time before serious injury has occurred. On top of that, just by seeing the punch coming, you are much less likely to knocked out as you will instinctively be able to ride it out, lessening the contact. Talk to anybody involved in combat sports and they will tell you that a solid strike they don’t see is often worse than a big punch that they see coming.

    • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      Where was the ref before things went bad during Parros’ fight against Boulton?

      • bencia823 - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:56 AM

        a vast majority of fights do not end in a straight KO, so by looking at the Parros fight, you are trying to use an outlier to judge fighting as a whole. When a combatant is rocked or gets dizzy, refs are quick to jump in, and the rocked combatant can often skate straight to the penalty box. When somebody takes a hard check to the head, the check itself and the fall to the ice are enough to put a player down and keep them from getting up right away.

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        I’m judging head shots. Any hit where the primary point of contact is the head is currently suspendable. A player has been suspended after targeting the head, but there was no penalty assessed on the play. A punch is thrown with the sole purpose of knocking out the opponent. The player punching is targeting the head and often it is the primary point of contact, and should therefore be suspendable.

        Rule 48.1 “contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.”

        Why apply this only to hits? Is it because violence sells?

      • killerpgh - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        “Rule 48 – Illegal Check to the Head” I think it is pretty self explanatory why it doesn’t coving fighting.

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        I don’t think you’re an idiot, but you sure come across as one. Read my posts……… It’s all there.

  10. muckleflugga - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:23 AM

    live from toronto airing…it’s hockey…

    night in canada…coast to coast…

    credits…cut fade to opening montage…cherried maclean…dodge…cialis…ram…puck…drop…

    black…pitch…jungle-like cacophony…toucans, monkeys, birds, distant elephant…leopard growling…stalking…chains…dragging clinking restraint…fade to opening light dim…unintelligible voices…simian…whisper rising to roar…muungo…

    want bananaaa, grunt ugh uhuhugh huh uh…muungo want bananaaaa…unintelligible moving to rage borne wailing…more chains dragging, restraints straining, leather popping…rending cries…

    mungo waaaaant bananaaaaaaaa….mungo not happy…mungo saaaaad…

    hurried scramble of feet…outside [ and inside ] of bars…chairs dragging…television…top of the line sylvania…black and white [ pardon me, afro-american and white ]…white dot to full screen, opening theme from apocalypse now….this is the end…it’s…wait…wait…it’s hockey…

    night in canada…heart of darkness…?

    game-on…real men…shoving, brawling, slapping, knuckling…fight…blood and peeled knuckles…fights…more blood and faces straining…many fighting…ice awash with snot, spit and blood faces distorted horror masks…cross-eyed stupid concussed…crowd frenzied, the nuttier nutless…reeeal men…delirious, an ejaculatory, gurgling and communal glee…

    mungo got bananaaaaaaaa….mungo happy…muuuuuungo…mungoo…whoa whoaaaa…glick glick click clicking, glicking…ah aha ahaaaa ha ha…jacking…

    off…the national game…it’s hockey…

    night in canada…heart of darkness

    • patthehockeyfan - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      time to check your medication, muckle

    • blomfeld - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      RETURN TO PLANET OF THE APES ?

  11. icrew29 - Dec 26, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    I love the post of nothanksimdriving123! I have also been a fan for over 50 years and this guy hit the nail on the head. I also like the tag appointment fights. Players like Dave Schults and John Scott come to mind, appointment fighters for the most part. I would like to see the league get the appointment fights out of the game. Embarrass the appointment fighters by giving them a DOG (Delay of Game), fighting instigator and game misconduct. The refs know when it’s an appointment fight. If your asking someone if they want to go, it’s an appointment fight. Leave the impulse fighting alone.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      crew: I wish I could recall the details, but lurking in some NHL game summary in the 1970s (I think) is the result of one ref’s sense of humor. He watched them drop their gloves and circle each other, neither throwing the first punch. Circle, circle, head bobs, circle. He finally blew his whistle, the linesmen each grabbed one and off they went, 2 minutes each for delay of game.
      Watch carefully when pucks drop again this week to see if this holds true: Most “anger” fights between good players get broken up pretty quickly, while with most appointment fights the linesmen let them go to entertain the crowd, which is the only purpose of the fight.

  12. titansbro - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    I’m sort of a new hockey fan from the South, but I have fallen in love with the game over the last 5 years. As much as the fighting is fun to watch & I want it to stay for purely selfish reasons, it is kinda wild that they actually let players take off their gloves & duke it out in front of thousands of fans & on national (international?) television. That said, I do see the importance of self policing. As a lifelong NFL fan, I can tell you that league is full of cheap shot artists who would love nothing more than to take out a guy’s knee or knock him out with a helmet to helmet hit when he isn’t looking when a simple form tackle would do the job. While that exists in the NHL, it is not nearly to the same level of the NFL. I think taking the fighting out of the game would cause those cheap shot artists to take more chances with their hits. If a safety (back to the NFL) had to worry about some huge offensive linemen running up & kicking the crap out of him he might think twice about laying out a defenseless receiver with a helmet shot. Different sports I know but I think the point still stands. So I’m all for keeping the fighting, but I agree that the staged fights need to go.

    • blomfeld - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      Welcome aboard friend !

      Your statement that “taking the fighting out of the game would cause those cheap shot artists to take more chances with their hits” is exactly why fighting needs to remain. Could you imagine what would happen if police departments around the world were obliged to all of a sudden trade in their guns for fruit baskets? It doesn’t even bear thinking,as the ensuing carnage and mayhem would be unfathomable.

      • JoeAvg - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        Your analogy is faulty, blomfeld. Police would be the refs (Shanahan the court), the players would be the citizens. But that’s not the point.

        I want to be convinced that what you claim is true. Prove/persuade me that fighting eliminates cheap hits and stick work. Since fighting has been around forever and so has dirty hits and stick work, I can’t see how one is supposed to stop the other. Especially in today’s game. Why should I believe that the threat of someone punching my helmet and face shield is going to stop me from clipping someone across the knees or taking out a few teeth with my stick?

      • titansbro - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        He can’t prove that fighting eliminates fighting or stick work. No one has claimed that it eliminates it 100%. Maybe he can’t prove that it actually helps deter the cheap shots. But you also cannot prove that taking fighting out of the game wouldn’t increase the amount of cheap shots. How long now has the league been handing out longer & longer suspensions for these acts? A while right? Yet it seems that it’s only getting worse. Maybe, just maybe, that’s because they are trying to decrease fighting?

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        The argument of the fighting apologists is that by having an appointment fight between player X and player Y, later in the game player A will refrain from hitting player B. It seems like shaky logic and I doubt it’s true. Unfortunately, it is not a provable hypothesis, due to having to prove a negative. We can only observe when it’s wrong, not when it’s right.
        We can get a glimpse of the fan support theories in Feb. Will the TV ratings for fight-free Olympic hockey be better, the same or worse than NHL games? One problem there will be the grossly inconvenient start times for live games.
        The only truly accurate way to test the “dirty play” and fan support theories would be to actually ban most fighting and see what happens. It seems right now that that will only happen if health (and insurance) worries increase somewhat, or if there is a disaster, ie: an NHL player dies as a direct result of a fight. Then it will be gone.
        If you down-thumb, kindly explain what you disagree with.

      • Paul Busch - Dec 26, 2013 at 7:16 PM

        There is lots of evidence that fighting actually increases the violence in a game – like this article

        http://itsnotpartofthegame.blogspot.ca/2013/02/the-rats-are-taking-over-game_3.html

        If fighting is so important why does it disappear in the playoffs. When winning really matters the enforcers are left on the bench, or press box, and players suddenly are more careful about taking dumb penalties.

    • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      The NHL has already handed out 124 games of suspensions and players have forfeited $1.4 million in salary. There are no facts proving that players not policing the game will increase the amount of cheap shots. Matter of fact enforcers try to engage a player to fight who has just delivered a clean hit. How is this preventing cheap shots?

      The concept of players policing the game to reduce cheap shots s pure speculation, and used an argument by those who want to keep fighting in the game. Why have there been so many suspensions and concussions if policing was so effective? The police don’t police themselves. Why? Heck! We can’t live in a society without laws. Why don’t we just police ourselves? Banks can police themselves. Why? It’s about selling the product and violence sells. In 2014 MLB will ban home plate collisions. Why? Let the players police the game. No? Home plate collisions have been a staple since the beginning of baseball. Offensive linemen are no longer allowed to hit their opponents in the head, which are one time was the norm. Why? Defensive players can no longer lead with their helmets when tacking a player, which at one time was the norm. Why? Can’t hit the QB above the shoulders either. Why?

      • titansbro - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        Yeah it’s weird they’re handing out all of these suspensions & penalty minutes yet the cheap shots continue to happen. Why is that? I’m not saying fighting is the only deterrent, but it certainly helps. I’m not saying what Thornton did was right, but don’t you think Orpik will think twice next time he takes a run at a guy? I can’t say cheap shots were or weren’t a larger part of the game in the old days before I became a fan of hockey.

        Believe it or not, I actually get why people would want fighting gone. It shouldn’t have to exist, & maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you’re right. Maybe the NHL would be just fine without it & cheap shots wouldn’t skyrocket. We’re all speculating anyway, no one really knows. But if fighting is helping to maintain a higher level of respect & discipline & you get rid of fighting, then good luck getting it back.

    • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      BTW, the Nutcracker drill was once the norm during every football practice. That has changed. Why?

      “The Nutcracker Drill — a version of the Oklahoma, in which two players repeatedly bash helmet-to-helmet — not only is sadistic, it is all but designed to cause concussions and head and neck injuries.”

      “If two players repeatedly bashed each other in the helmet during a game, flags would fly. But if this happens during practice, no one knows except the players and coaches present. There’s often no penalty for the coach who orders a dangerous drill — he knows he can abuse his players all he pleases, and will probably never be sanctioned in any way.”

      “The National Football League sets the tone for football, and its new collective bargaining agreement sets a positive tone. The CBA states that during two-a-days, only one of the two practice sessions can be in pads. Practices are limited to three hours each. Once the season begins (to simplify a complicated new rule), teams can stage only one full-contact practice per week. During the offseason, contact practices are tightly restricted.”

      “These new rules don’t go far enough — medically unsafe drills need to be banned. But the new NFL initiative is a huge step in the right direction, both reducing risk to players and recognizing the principle that like games, practices must be regulated.”

      The NHL can go a lot further to ensure the players safety.

  13. joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    There was a hail of comments from fans who felt Orpik should have been suspended for concussing Eriksson. No one questioned for a minute whether or not Boulton should be suspended for concussing Parros. The NHL suspended Engelland for a head shot on Abdelkader, but not Boulton for his punch to the face of Parros that concussed him. Why does one head shot get punished and not the other?

    • bencia823 - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      because there is a big difference in damage between a shot you see coming and can defend yourself from, and a blindside attack. If you don’t believe that, feel free to explain why hockey players can be kept off the ice for 6 months+ (in some cases like Marc Savard, even longer), but MMA fighters get back in the gym a few weeks after being knocked out cold.

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        What scientific can you share indicating there is a difference? A shot to the head can cause a concussion. Period! That is a proven and scientific fact. Do you even know what CTE is? Many of the those fighters who get back in the gym and get repeated concussions die from all those shots to the head. Can you explain why certain people don’t get cancer from tobacco smoking all their lives and some die in their 50s from tobacco related cancer? Have you ever heard of dementia pugilistica? Read on it, and then tell me about your MMA fighters.

        Marc Savard is not returning to the ice because they fear for his well being. The next concussion can be extremely devastating. Why did Kieth Primeau retire? Matthew Barnaby? Stu Grimson? What happened to Derek Booggard? Probert? and there are more. Don’t blow smoke. Get informed.

      • killerpgh - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        It’s also scientifically proven the a clean shoulder to shoulder check can cause a concussion even when there in 0 contact with the head. The “whiplash effect” can cause a concussion. So should the NHL eliminate checking as well?

      • bencia823 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:37 PM

        As far as pugulistic dementia is concerned, that has been traced primarily to repeated subconcussive blows as opposed to just a few concussions here and there. In other words, fighters who suffer from CTE do so as a result of all of the smaller shots they take over their career. This is largely an issue for fighters who would spar at 100% on a daily basis, which was almost the equivalent to fighting on a daily basis. Not all headshots are equal, and as I mentioned before, just seeing a blow coming can make it less damaging based on your body’s ability to ride out the contact. All of the guys you mentioned were also subject to high checks, so there’s no definitive way to say that fighting was the sole reason for their problems.

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:48 PM

        killerpgh, whiplash (neck strain) can cause concussions indeed. There has been zero cases of a hockey player suffering from whiplash.

        “The sudden force stretches and tears the muscles and tendons in your neck.”

        This happens mostly in car accidents. You obviously like to blow smoke.

      • killerpgh - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        This is what I meant by “whiplash effect” on a clean hit. Perfect body check. Comeau gets a concussion and miss a handful of games. The concussion wasn’t from direct contact to the head, but from his head whipping quickly then stopping causing the brain to shift and bounce off the skull.

    • mso2219 - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:33 PM

      Parros knew exactly what risk he was taking and ended up paying for it. The fact that you even compare the two is a complete apples and oranges situation. No one is being forced to fight, just like they aren’t being forced to “endanger themselves” by playing the game in the first place.

      The NHL has clearly told players the risk of head injuries. A defenseless player is a different story, because he didn’t choose to put himself in a threatening situation, that’s just a product of the game. The league has legislated and disciplines against that as they should.

      98% of players approve of fighting. Taking it out of the league not only goes against what the actual players want, but what the fans want as well. All you want to do is defend these players from themselves, like you know what’s best for them. Clearly these ADULTS can make their own decisions.

      These are men playing a game that pays them millions of dollars, and not a single one would stop playing because of the risks.

  14. shaundre93 - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    I noticed a few guys mentioned “appointment fighters”. Staged fights, hired goons, whatever you wanna call them. I agree 100% that this needs to be removed from the game. If you want “tough guys” playing on your fourth line, hire the likes of Brandon prust, Jared boll, Kyle Clifford, Shawn Thornton. Guys who play hockey first, and play pretty effectively for 3rd/4th liners but are capable and willing to defend their teammates. (I know I mentioned Thornton, would like to leave orpik out of this discussion lol) Basically, we don’t need John Scott and Colton Orr lumbering out for one of their five shifts a game to mash each others brains around. I agree, that’s pretty pointless and where probably 90% of long term fight related medical issues come from. I never want to lose Lucic pounding komisareks face in because they were playing hard against each other all season. I never want to lose fights in defense of a dirty hit. I don’t think the league can do anything about fighting right now, its about individual teams making a decision to stop hiring fighters who can kinda play hockey. Lets stick to hockey players that can kinda fight

  15. montrealbbr - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    I hope that the NHL makes the big move to finally get fighting out of the game. I think I read somewhere that 8% of the concussions were directly related to fighting. That is a pretty big number and when you know you can reduce concussions I think you have to just do it.

    Fighting doesnt prevent cheap shots or dirty hits because every other night you are seeing hits that are being reviewed and guys are being suspended. Time for the goons to go!

    • drewsylvania - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      Cheap shot artists are a far worse problem. Yet the NHL hasn’t done much about that, have they?

      It’s incredibly obtuse to scapegoat fighting when most of the very bad injuries come from dirty plays/cheap shots. Guys like James Neal/Rene Bourque/etc need to be the guys to go.

      Now, if someone can point me to research about fighting causing concussions, I may change my tune. However, cheap shots will always be worse than fighting.

  16. TheWittyOne - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    The problem with the whole “fighting polices the game” argument is: (1) people making that argument set themselves up in the impossible position of proving a negative, and (2) there are many places where hockey is played at an extremely high level and fighting is prohibited. If fighting really is all that stands between us and an onslaught of cheap shots, then NCAA hockey, Olympic hockey, etc. should be an unwatchable parade of concussions. Funnily enough, that’s not the case. At all.

    Sooner rather than later, the liability of fighting and the stomach-turning spectacle of guys getting stretchered off is going to be too much for the NHL, no matter how much people whine. In five years, 10 absolute max, the NHL will join literally almost every single other professional hockey organization in banning fighting and punishing it with a match penalty. I’d bet money on it, in fact.

    • drewsylvania - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      How many players have been stretchered off from a fight?

      • TheWittyOne - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        I’m not sure what your point is…unless you’re just trying to illustrate how pro-fighting fans are completely and utterly out of valid arguments. The NHL is already trying to eliminate cheap shots, as evidenced by the more frequent and more severe suspensions we see from the DoPS. It’s debatable whether they are implementing that as well as they should, but it’s clear they see cheap shots as a problem and want them gone.

        They are perfectly capable of maintaining this while simultaneously banning fighting.

      • drewsylvania - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:32 PM

        My point is specifically to refute your incorrect notion that fighting leads to people being stretchered off. Not sure how that’s an “invalid argument”, except in your nose-in-the-air mind.

      • drewsylvania - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:41 PM

        “it’s clear they see cheap shots as a problem and want them gone.”

        We shall see. Up until the Thornton suspension, they were playing “punishment theater”.

      • TheWittyOne - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        You mean other than the one mentioned in the initial post?

        If you’d like to set a quota for “acceptable number of post-fight stretcher incidents” then hey, knock yourself out. No pun intended. Just don’t expect that to be a persuasive argument when any number at all is unnecessary.

        And if your point is that the DoPS has often done a crappy job of punishing cheap shots, I agree. I wouldn’t call it solely “theater” simply because no self-respecting union will regularly ask its members to give up game checks for “theater.”

        But again, there is no contradiction in the NHL both improving their track record punishing cheap shots and eliminating fighting.

  17. drewsylvania - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Versus how many players stretchered off from a cheap shot?

  18. mso2219 - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    So many idealists out there it’s ridiculous. Does anyone understand that no one is forcing these guys to play? Sports are entertainment, but people lose sight of that because of how exploded they have become exploded in today’s society.

    These guys are making MILLIONS to play a game, and with that comes risk. Like life itself, unfortunate things do happen, and concussions are always going to happen. Do you honestly think adding rules upon rules is actually going to improve the game? The key is education and the players themselves knowing how to handle themselves and respect their opponents.

    I’d be more supportive of the NHL trying to remove the “goon” from the league by measures of changing the roster limit or what not, but unless the players decide for themselves that lowering the amount of concussions is important, nothing else matters.

    If players treat fighting the way it is meant to be treated, it’s good for the game. Guys blow off steam, send a message to the other team, and rally their own team, that’s what a good fight does. The 98% player fighting approval speaks for itself, let’s let them decide on their own well being before some 60 year old commissioner who can’t even skate does it for them.

    • TheWittyOne - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      The problem with this is that the NHL isn’t solely concerned with what current players think, nor should they be. A 30-year-old player with two concussions in his history might very well say, “I like hockey and I don’t care if it liquifies my brain.” The mom of a six-year-old with a Crosby or Kane poster on his wall isn’t going to say, “My kid likes hockey and I don’t care if it liquifies his brain.” But the NHL wants that kid to play because he could be the next mega-star on a future kid’s wall. Or even if he isn’t, he’s more likely to spend his $$$ on the NHL if he develops an affinity for hockey.

      As we’ve seen from the NFL, “I’ll stop watching if I don’t like these new rules” is an empty threat. And the few who follow through are offset by the fans picked up along the way. Not to mention the small matter of liability for brain injuries. The fact is, the NHL isn’t going to make changes like banning fighting mostly for the long-term health of the players, no matter what they altruistically claim. They’ll make the changes for the long-term health of the league.

      • 12is3times4 - Dec 27, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        Bingo. WittyOne nails it. The same goes for football, too.

        That said, the cumulative effects of nonconcussive hits remain the joker in this deck. Taking fighting and other head shots out of the game is one thing. But what if after doing that, players still end up with scrambled brains from years’ worth of lesser hits sustained in hundreds of games and thousands of practices? How do you eliminate THAT risk without gutting the very essence of the sport? You probably can’t. And so, at the end of the day, the future of the sport will boil down to how many parents are willing to let their kids take that risk by playing.

        Again, the same goes for football.

  19. terrier92 - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Sad day when the NHL powers that be hunt the Lions and make life more comfortable for the Hyena’s .

    • drewsylvania - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      I’m not sure that fighting prevents cheap shots–cheap shots are still alive, well, and thriving.

    • titansbro - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      Heard this on the radio today & love that saying.

  20. drewsylvania - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    I don’t have a huge beef with getting rid of fighting. But if you’re going to get rid of fighting without curbing cheap shots….well, that’s just backwards.

    • titansbro - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      I actually agree with this. While I do enjoy seeing 2 willing combatants drop the gloves & lay into each other, I’m really there to watch the game. I don’t really care about the fighting either. I just think it helps curb the amount of cheap shots a bit.

  21. ironmd778 - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    If you’re against fighting you’re not an NHL fan. It belongs in the league!!!

  22. titansbro - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    I think the thumbs up & thumbs down buttons are silly.

  23. pfhockey - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    As a Bolts fan an avid NHL follower, Yzerman is a very liberal reforming thinker of todays game, takes a bullet on plenty of ideas for some GMs especially the CHL-NHL prospect age agreement.

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