This could be a long one. I'm quite late with this article, yeah, I know. Everyone and their grandma has already said what they have to say about fighting in hockey.
Well now it's my turn.
I've heard a lot of arguments on both sides of this one, everything from "it's barbaric and not needed," to "it's an important part of the game," and even a little "fight or you're a wuss."
Well, what I have to say is, you're all kind of right, but way off at the same time.
First of all, even if it was the right thing to do, you can't take fighting out of hockey. Even if there was a penalty for fighting, when someone runs a star player, there will still be a scrap from time to time. This is an emotional game, tempers run high, it happens.
Second, fighting doesn't need to be taken out of the game. Some people will read that sentence and say something like "Two or three freak accidents per year are way too many, get it out." Truly though, as I agree no one should die playing hockey, but sometimes guys get knocked out, they know they're risking injury going in.
This year, two unfortunate things happened during a fight (search Don Sanderson and Garret Klotz if you don't know the incidents I'm talking about), but compared to the number of fights in hockey this season, it's a pretty small number of injuries. The severe injuries are what needs to go—not the fights themselves.
Now you may be asking,"How do we get rid of these terrible injuries?"
It can't be done completely, but the only way to bring down the number of guys being truly hurt, is to look to the source of the fighting. Making helmets mandatory in fights wont do anything except break more hands, so scrap that brilliant idea now.
The only way to bring down fighting in hockey is to police dirty hits a lot more than is done now. That's the only way this madness is going to stop.
If a player thinks twice about running his elbow into a guys head, and decides not to do it, that more than likely stops the fight from happening, especially if a star player is involved.
So there you have it, the solution to the big fighting problem. Police the dirty hits, and the number of fights will drop tenfold, then the number of severe injuries and possible deaths will go down to virtually nothing.
Of course everyone must remember this is a physical sport, things will still happen. You can't help that, so learn to live with it—the players have.