Drop the gloves

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Flames player getting his ass kicked. What else is new? /Image: bentonhockey.com

Flames player getting his ass kicked. What else is new? /Image: bentonhockey.com

Autumn McDowell weighs in on hockey fights

Article: Autumn McDowell – Sports Editor

There is quite possibly no topic more controversial in the hockey world than fighting.
But it’s part of the game, and fighting deserves a place in the rink.

For as long as people have gathered on frozen ponds, with a stick in their hands and blades on their feet to play Canada’s game, there have been fights that break out. And while some people believe that hockey should not be allowed to have fighting because no other team sport is allowed such a luxury, I would have to strongly disagree.

Any time I go to a hockey game, or watch one on TV I go fully expecting to see one fight and hoping to see two. Fighting adds a unique element to this already highly intense physical game that can often go underappreciated because of its seemingly violent nature.

Although casual fans may see fighting as simply a blood bath, that is not the case. Fighting is rarely used simply because two opposing players hate each other. While that does happen, more often than not, it is used as a game tactic to spur on your own teammates or steal the momentum from the other team. Fighting is strategy.

Whenever I make the argument that fighting is part of the game and should remain an integral part of hockey, people first ask me if I have ever played the game. The answer is no, but that shouldn’t discount my opinion. The next question that they ask is if I have ever had a family member be seriously injured from a fight, and once again, my answer is no.

[pullquote]“Whenever two opposing players go toe-to-toe, or better yet when a line brawl breaks out, I am on the edge of my seat, cheering as the arena fills with excitement and the players begin to dance.”[/pullquote]

While it is possible that my opinion on the subject may change if one of my family members was seriously injured due purely as the result of a fight, I see this as a rather unlikely scenario. Even though I do not know anyone that was seriously injured from a punch to the head, I know a handful of people who have acquired concussions as the result of being on the wrong end of a hit into the boards. Does that mean I want hitting taken out of the game? Hell no.

Whenever two opposing players go toe-to-toe, or better yet when a line brawl breaks out, I am on the edge of my seat, cheering as the arena fills with excitement and the players begin to dance. The moment those gloves hit the ice is something that can’t be explained, it’s magical.

While I strongly appreciate on-ice fighting, what I don’t agree with is having one player on the bench, whose sole job it is to fight. These goons ride the pine for the better part of the year and are then called upon to fight other smaller, goal scoring – albeit talented – player’s battles. While it could be argued that having an extra position on the team – even if it is a goon ­– provides more athletes with the opportunity to play high level hockey, I want to go back to the days when these so-called goons still scored thirty goals a season.

If you take fighting out of hockey, you take away the passion. Fighting sells more tickets, puts more fans in the stands, rallies teams and separates champions from swamp donkeys. Fighting has a historic past and, God-willing, an exciting future as an integral part of hockey.

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