Less Hitting in Hockey? That's What Pads Are For

Mark Eckhart Jr.Correspondent IOctober 31, 2008

Over the past week or so, there have been many hockey analysts raising a particularly ridiculous question. Should we ban fighting in the NHL? The answer. Absolutely not. Fighting has always been a part of the game, and so have big time hits.

I don't agree with the cheap shots like the Steve Moore incident from a few years ago, but if you're going to skate sideways across the middle of the ice, then you better expect to get your bell rung. This question is almost as ridiculous as the NFL's rules of trying to protect the quarterback. The QB has protection, he's a man, let him act like one. He doesn't need the NFL watching over him so he doesn't get his pants dirty.

Hockey is a sport, and with every sport comes competition. The competition can be heated at times, and words are said. These are grown men, and I enjoy them seeing them handle the situation like men. They don't wait until after the game during press conferences to call the guy out, or write about it in next day's paper. They settle it right then and there with 20,000 witnesses to what happened.

The way the referees handle the situation is fine the way it is. Let them swing at each other until one man hits the ice, and then separate them. There's no need to blow your whistle and stop the fight just because a glove comes off.

As a competitor, you never want to see a fellow athlete be seriously injured because of a hit he takes on the ice, but it's all in the rules. I'm not saying I want to see a player sent through glass at every game, but trying to ban hitting and fighting from hockey is like telling LeBron James he can't dunk over a point guard. You're taking one of the biggest thrills out of the game.

As bad as it sounds, some people attend hockey games just to see a fight in person, just like basketball fans go to see a slam dunk contest.

Hockey can't ban fighting because hockey needs fighting. It boosts ratings, keeps the casual fan interested, and is good for the game. If they were to ban it, it wouldn't cause a strike or anything of that magnitude, but it would certainly feel like one with the amount of fans they would lose over a decision like that.