Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why The NHL Must Keep Fighting In The Game

Over the past week there have been many articles written about the fighting debate following the death of Wade Belak, some good like Rick Moldovanyi's article, The Eternal Fighting Debate, and some that were written to stir shit up like Jack Todd's, The NHL must ban fighting. Just to get it off our chests early, we don't generally trust people with two first names as a name. So how can Todd admit that the tragic deaths this summer cannot be linked to their fighting roles in hockey, yet call for fighting to banned because it kills?

Let's pick this article apart:

"The toll fighting takes on the fighters is too great. The stress is too much, the constant pain, the accumulated affects of too many punches, too many painkillers, too much alcohol mixed with the painkillers."

So all hockey players who fight are addicted to painkillers? Unfounded statements like this only make assumptions of how NHL fighters live their lives, and passing those judgments are very unfair. Just because they fight and take punches does not mean they are susceptible to drug abuse.

"If nothing else, the needless deaths of these three young men should give Gary Bettman the political tool he needs to overcome the sizable contingent of Neanderthals who still wield a disproportionate weight in NHL circles."

Needless deaths indeed. However, what political tool does Gary Bettman have that one player decided to drink and take painkillers? Is mental illness linked to fighting in hockey? Can Gary Bettman actually make a statement saying that "fighting is banned from now on because its making players depressed"? We don't think so. These deaths only raise the issue of players off-ice habits and should be a matter for the NHL and NHLPA to work together on to help players with their personal issues or post-retirement careers.

"Whatever could once be said to justify fighting, it is no longer part of the flow of the game. Fights are staged bouts between paid gladiators which have little or no impact on the game."

Fights do change the pace of a game - its called momentum. A shift in momentum can help players get their legs, or get the crowd into the game - the paying fans might we add. From the amount of hockey we watch, a minority of the fights are staged. The majority are mid-shift tilts between guys who can skate and drop the gloves, not just enforcers chasing each other around.  

"Fighters no longer play an integral role. Today, their fights are little more than unwelcome interruptions. They fight, the game is delayed, as often as not there is no clear winner. There is some cheering and posturing, the gloves and helmets are gathered up and the game goes on. What is the point?"

Are you fucking kidding me? Unwelcome interruptions? Look at the fans during a fight, they're out of their seats, they're into it. Look at the players bench during a fight, why are they banging their sticks against the boards after the fight? Is that there way of showing they disapprove? Fans and players react to fights and that can spark a team to victory.

"Now it's time to move on and to put an end to fighting. Call it the Wade Belak Rule if you like. If his death can help bring about an end to fighting in the NHL, then something good might come of what is otherwise a senseless, heartbending tragedy, the death of a father of two young girls at a time that should have been the prime of his life."

What did Wade Belak's death have to do with fighting in the NHL? Belak was retired and hadn't fought in months. Fighting didn't take Belak's life, mental illness did. It doesn't matter what sport or role they play, players are people. They have problems; they drink, they smoke, they pop pills. It was an unfortunate and tragic summer for the hockey world, but we're sure none of the players we lost would say that fighting was the death of them.


  1. I agree that fighting should be in the game. But players that just skate 3 shifts a game to fight aren't needed.

  2. Jack Todd sounds like an idiot. Using these players as martyrs is wrong. They didn't die so people could advocate against fighting, they died because of their off-ice problems. Prescription pills and depression. Fighting didn't fail these players, the NHLPA did.

    The lives of these players should be used to show that those with mental illness can reach the highest professional levels and hopefully their achievements in hockey can be used as a tool for youth dealing with similar problems. Its a shame these players chose the way out they did, but in no way would they see fighting as something that should be banned.

  3. I agree with you guys 100%. There was recently a poll of NHLers that came out, asked if they think fighting should be a part of the game. Poll results: Yes-98%, No-2%. Enough said.

    Think the players that are there for "staged fights" aren't respected? Watch that goal Wade Belak scored against Nashville, and then watch the entire teams faces as he skates back to the bench.

  4. Thats the thing, if players want it, it stays. Once you see a poll...an actual poll with a majority of the league voting... that says only 40% want fighting, then you scrap it...

  5. Jack Todd must have been on painkillers when he wrote this.

  6. another factor that fights provide or enforces is the fact they are there to protect their star players. Why aim for someone's head when you know there is a guy that will knock you out.


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