We are a violent society. Human existence has been marred by the presence of violence since before we could write on walls, and yet we still do not understand why.
Hockey is a violent sport. It is a game of warriors. Hockey players have been compared to modern-day versions of the Knights of the Middle Ages. Their full-body suits of armor are their willing protection against a surefire clash with their opponent.
And yet, for one reason or another, there are those who feel the sport would be better suited without violence.
Fighting has become the hot topic of conversation these days because of certain negative connotations that we are led to believe come as a direct result of fighting.
This past summer was a terrible one for the hockey world and should never be forgotten. For those who don’t know, there were three untimely deaths as well as the Russian plane crash that killed two-dozen players.
To say that fighting causes damage to those who engage in it is an understatement. However, there is another angle that fans seem to forget, and to that I give thanks to the worst rule ever put into hockey: the Instigator Rule.
When the Instigator Rule was first put into place in the 90s, the NHL was fed-up with it’s image as a sidestep from boxing, and wanted to highlight the skill of its players in an attempt to grow the sport. Okay, I get that.
Now, however, we have players playing with disregard, and the NHL only has itself to blame.
Let’s examine the issue of the NHL’s golden boy, Sidney Crosby, who right now is sitting out for a second time with concussion-like symptoms.
Last year in the Winter Classic, Crosby took a hit that was widely accepted as a cheap shot to the head by Dave Steckel. Steckel skated away from the incident without a care in the world.
In the days of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, how many times did you see either of these Hall-of-Fame players take a hit like that?
It’s simple enough to understand, but when you have an enforcer like Marty McSorley on your bench, teams are less likely to take a shot at the Great One because they know the next time they hit the ice, the enforcer will come after them.
If you think the Crosby hit was a fluke, take the incident where Ryan Miller was run over by Jordin Tootoo earlier this season. The Buffalo media had a hailstorm the next day wondering why no one on the team stepped up to defend their star goaltender.
The Instigator Rule needs to be modified, at the very least.
The NHL has turned into a skill-based league, which is all good and fine, but they are shooting themselves in the foot by not exploring the benefits of fighting in hockey. It may not look great on video, but it will help save them a lot of injuries if the fighting is allowed.
The NHL can ill afford to lose another Sidney Crosby, because who knows who might be next.