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Bettman says debate over fighting is an ‘overblown issue’

Mar 2, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

Gary Bettman AP

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wants fans to know that fighting isn’t going away any time soon.

Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review spoke with the commissioner at the NHL Stadium Series game in Chicago and asked for his take on fighting in the league. Bettman stood up for fighting saying it’s not a major part of the game.

“It’s an overblown issue because it’s a small part of the game, and to the extent there are concussions it’s a small part of that,” Bettman said. “Fighting is something we’ll continue to focus on, but there hasn’t been a consensus from the hockey people — on the side of management — or the players to make a change. I’ve been told if the NHLPA did a poll that 98 percent of the players would say don’t change the rule.”

Fans who don’t like fighting will obviously not be happy with this take from the commissioner, but this is essentially what he’s said all along about having fighting in the NHL.

Some believe fighting keeps the league from becoming more of a mainstream sport while others say it’s such an established part of the game it can’t be removed.

Discussions about changing the punishment for fighting were brought up by Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, but those talks are new.  If change is going to come, it’ll take more people who think like Yzerman and hold positions of power to make it happen.

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