Who has not heard the joke, "I was at a fight last night and a hockey game broke out"?
Many fans of other sports view the NHL as brutish because of the fights and miss out on the beauty of the sport because of it. They watch Olympic hockey without fighting and maybe the playoffs when it is rare, but the fights keep them from supporting during the regular season, and the NHL loses potential support.
But fighting is so ingrained in the culture of hockey in North America that trying to get rid of it is useless. Even though the fans who like it will not turn from the sport just because it goes away does not mean losing it would not hurt the game.
Many of us like the fact that if someone crosses a line, this one sport gives its competitors the ability to do something about it. It gives it a charm and old-school feel.
But as the fourth sport in North America, the NHL needs to explore ways to reduce fighting to the fights that matter. Here are five rules that I suggest are worth examining and discussing...