With the recent on-ice incidents in the playoffs and the calls for abolishing fighting in hockey, here’s my take on the issue.
There were three incidents in question, Milan Lucic’s spear on Danny DeKeyser, the hit from behind on David Backes by Brent Seabrook, and Matt Cooke’s knee-on-knee to Tyson Barrie, that were not the result of a fight. Yet people still believe banning fighting outright is going to fix these problems. Delusional doesn’t even begin to describe the anti-fighting crowd.
Hockey is a tough sport. But that is what makes the game exciting both to watch and play. We’ve seen previous attempts to eliminate the violent aspects of sport like hockey, football, and more recently baseball. But what it really did was create disinterest in those sports. There are hockey leagues outside the NHL that suit those who don’t like fighting or body checking. How come they are not going to those games? I can tell you why, because games in those leagues are as interesting to watch as paint drying.
Instead of making futile attempts to ban fighting and limit physical contact, why not teach young hockey players how to deliver a body check, how to take it, how to avoid it, and the right way to fight an opponent? It is just as good a skill to learn as putting pucks in net. This will get them prepared for what really goes on the ice, not the Hollywood fairy tale that some “experts” are telling us.
I don’t expect every NHL game to have a fight. In fact, I would be the first in line to have staged fights taken out of the game. But the fear of having to fight keeps players on the ice honest. With the instigator, ejections, and threats of suspensions, that fear is non-existent. I will go so far as to say if you like goons and want to continue seeing them high stick someone like Steven Stamkos, then be my guest, get fighting out of the game.
I don’t like seeing players getting hurt as much as the next guy. But as long as there is contact allowed, people better get used to the violent nature of hockey or they should find another sport to play… or watch.