Fighting has a role in the NHL....but Goons Need Not Apply

S. SinghContributor IMarch 11, 2009

The importance of fighting in hockey is currently being debated all over water coolers and on media shows. 

Currently three different opinions exist, those belonging to give peace a chance hippies, blood-thirsty savages, and of course, the moderates.

As expected, it took second stage (centre stage belonging "to the head") at this year's General Managers meeting, currently taking place in Naples, Florida.

Some of the recommendations which came out of that meeting included 10-min misconduct for staged fights and increasing the number of instigator penalties called in order to combat fighting.

There is no doubt the role of fighting has evolved over time. In a fast paced, hard hitting game, emotions tend to run high invariably leading to fights breaking out. Earlier, there was a tendency for players to self police themselves on the ice. 

Anyone who delivered cheap shots knew they had a bounty on their head for the rest of the game. Fighting was and still is used to shift the momentum of a game, alleviate frustration, right any "perceived wrongs" and staged entertainment fights.

It is the latter two that has denigrated the role of fighting in hockey leading to a dichotomy of enforcers. Educated enforcers and side show goons, the latter who stop the flow of the game and make fighting comical and unnecessary.

I have no problem when dirty players who play to injure their opponents, slew foot opponents, use their sticks as weapons and run over goalies and smaller players get the beat down. Because quite frankly, they deserve it. Especially when they occur away from the play. 

It is understandable for tempers and frustration to boil over when referees routinely miss calls and players resort to self policing. Usually these types of fights occur in the in the heat of the battle, and can feed off of and add to the emotion of the game.

I do take exception to the team enforcers fighting players who deliver legal and solid hits. If a goalie ventures outside of their safe zone, they are as fair game as any player (they assume an inherent risk when they leave their crease). 

This "you hit me-I have to retaliate" mentality denigrates the role of fighting. Fighting should not be used to punish good, hard yet legal hits or because its their job. Perhaps the excessive fighting which occurs currently results from marginal players using fighting as a means to stay in the league. 

I don't buy arguments made by players such as George Laraque who view it as part of the job description and worry about enforcer job security.

If you want to play in the NHL, you better have hockey talent. As far as staged fights, personally, I find them tacky and unnecessary and don't add much to the game.

I would rather players do some self policing in the league as to what constitutes honourable fighting rather and refer to the original fighters "code." With the increasing use of technology, some of the self policing is redundant. 

I actually do like a good fight, and can get a bit blood thirsty at times but only when it comes to the dangerous and idiotic players getting schooled. I would like to see a decrease in the silly staged fighting as it does slow the game doesn't add much in the emotional department for me. 

The bottom line is if you dont' like fighting in hockey, then don't watch it. Watch golf or ping pong. If you do like blood thirsty fighting, watch WWE wrestling or Asian politics, because I don't think NHL has enough fighting to satisfy that blood least not yet.