It didn't take long but the debate on fighting is making headlines once again.
It's an interesting debate, especially this time around, because of the incident that occurred during last night's game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.
During the game we saw another installment of Parros v Orr.
Let's break down the facts:
- George Parros and Colton Orr drop the gloves.
- Both combatants leave their helmets on.
- Parros/Orr slip and fall; Parros goes chin first into the ice.
- Parros gets knocked out due to contact with the ice.
- Parros leaves the game on a stretcher. Not good.
- He suffered a concussion. Also not good.
- He did not sustain any of these injuries because of blows exchanged during the fight.
Now the fun part: armchair analysis!
Those against fighting will use this as their go-to example as to why we don't need fighting in the NHL. The question I ask is why?
Players know that the risk of injury is there when they drop the gloves. They also know the risk of injury that is there every time they step onto the ice. Incidents like last night happen. They are freak accidents that happen during the game of hockey. Any other night, one (or both) combatants go down, and it's over. They serve their time in the cubicle of shame and it's business as usual for the enforcer.
I look at last night's incident the same way as the Gryba hit on Eller. Were the optics pretty? No, not by a long shot. However, it was a hockey play gone wrong. Fighting is part of the game today and that's just an unfortunate result.
Sportsnet's Michael Grange posted an article about how "Fighting in the NHL Needs to go"
Here is part of a discussion between Glen Healy and Craig Simpson during the Montreal-Toronto game that Grange used in his article:
Healy: "Don Sanderson… hit his head on the ice, no helmet and he died. And if that happens in this game, the National Hockey League, fighting will be gone from the game."
Simpson: "I guess you ask, Glenn, why does that (the death of a player) need to happen for that (the elimination of fighting) to happen?"
I don't agree with this outlook on the issue of fighting.
Hockey is a dangerous sport; we can all acknowledge that. The bone that I have to pick with that perspective is that you can use that kind of justification for eliminating anything from the game.
If a player dies from a check against the boards, will they get rid of checking from the game?
If a player dies due from being cut with a skate, will they turn the NHL into a roller hockey league?
If a player dies from getting hit in the face with a puck, will they remove pucks?
If a player slips during game play and hits his head against the ice and dies, do they remove the ice?
And on and on it goes.
It's unfortunate when we see incidents like last night where a player is seriously hurt and a stretcher is brought out. Not only is it scary, but no one wants to see that. However, you just have to go back to the phrase you'll hear over and over again: "It's part of the game".
What if it wasn't just "part of the game"? Would removing fighting from the game eliminate injuries like we saw last night? It's hard to say. Let's imagine an NHL where fighting is banned. Now that you have that image in your mind, let's imagine a scrum in front of a net. Players are grabbing onto each other and wrestling/pushing/shoving occurs. Player X is wrestling and shoving Player Y. Player Y trips (over a stick, body, whatever), falls and hits his head on the ice.
Even with fighting gone, freak accidents like the one we saw last night will still happen. It's the nature of hockey. The last thing I want to see is the National Hockey League turn into the No Fun League.
What do you guys think of fighting or last night's incident?
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