Fighting in hockey is entertaining ó I canít argue that.
A good toe-to-toe bout can get a crowd charged up and bring fans out of their seats.
Fighting isnít just for the spectatorsí amusement, however. I didnít drop the gloves very often in my 13 seasons in the NHL, but I understood the role that fighting once served.
Fighting acted as an effective deterrent ó it made players think twice before taking a run at a star player.
Yet as entertaining as a good fight can be, I believe the time will soon come when it is no longer part of the game.
One of the main reasons for allowing fighting is to protect star players by letting the players police themselves on the ice. But the number of concussions, head shots and blindside hits in todayís NHL suggests that fighting isnít doing its job very well any more. The element of fear and intimidation of having to answer the bell after taking a run at a skilled player is gone.
In fact, todayís NHLers appear to be ready to fight after any hit, clean or dirty ó to the point where bouts are getting annoying to watch.
ďI was sticking up for a teammateĒ is the common refrain from players who initiate fights. But I always thought that learning how to take a clean hit, dusting yourself off and taking a number was part of being tough.
Letís look at former Senator Brian McGrattan. He is a tough guy and a good fighter, but is his presence in the Bruinsí lineup going to ensure another devastating blindside hit like the one Marc Savard took from Matt Cooke wonít happen again? No way.
Players no longer fear retribution on the ice ó the threat of a suspension and losing several gamesí pay worries them far more.
Ironically, NHL enforcers are now so big that opponents donít fear them because it would be ridiculous to even think about fighting them. Iím sure a lot of people would like to see a Derek Boogaard pound a Patrick Kaletta or a McGrattan pummel a Cooke, but it will never happen.
I understand that people love to see two heavyweights go at it as well, but what purpose does that really serve? A game with speed, skill and good, clean hits doesnít need fighting to sell itself.
Fighting also results in more long-term physical damage than you might think. NHL tough guys probably suffer more concussions than any other players. The league is trying to eliminate head shots, but shouldnít that include getting rid of the most obvious head shot of all ó a bare-knuckled punch to the head?
No tough guy in his right mind is going to admit he has a concussion after a fight. If he does, heís admitting weakness and wonít have a job for long.
Earlier this season, Torontoís Colton Orr got KOíd in a fight vs. Pittsburghís Deryk Engelland.
While NHL players are now kept out of the lineup for at least seven days after sustaining non-fighting concussions, Orr played in the Leafsí next game just two days after fighting Engelland. Iím sure when Orr was asked, he said he was fine, but was he really?
An unintentional shoulder to the head like Joe Thorntonís on David Perron last week earned Thornton a two-game suspension. Yet an intentional punch to the head that causes a concussion normally results in nothing more than time in the penalty box.
Is it just me or does that seem unfair?Yorkie's top 5 guys you don't want to fight: 1. Zdeno Chara (Boston) Could you imagine what would happen if he got mad? The Bryan McCabe incident was nothing. 2. Derek Boogaard (Rangers) Too big, too strong and how do you get close enough to hit him. 3. George Parros (Anaheim) Itís Movember, and you have to be tough to rock that ístache. 4. Milan Lucic (Boston) Mike Komisereck has never been the same since they danced. 5. Matt Carkner (Ottawa) Heís got that natural Ottawa Valley nasty that you just canít teach.