The editor of a Canadian medical journal is calling for a ban on fighting in hockey, saying he is "appalled by the disgraceful and uncivilized practice of fighting and causing intentional head trauma" in the NHL.
"I call on all doctors to support a ban on all forms of intentional head trauma and endorse deterrent penalties in hockey," Dr. Rajendra Kale wrote in a editorial to be published in this month's Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Kale cites 2009 research from the Boston University School of Medicine that found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of deceased hockey players Rick Martin, Reggie Fleming and Bob Probert.
CTE, also known has punch-drunk syndrome, is an irreversible condition that destroys brain tissue and can lead to dementia.
"Scientists might argue that three sliced up brains is not enough evidence and that long-term cohort studies are needed to prove beyond doubt that hockey players are at risk of CTE," Kale, the Journal's interim editor-in-chief, wrote.
But he said evidence from boxing injuries collected over decades proves repeated head trauma causes brain damage, and "this evidence can be extrapolated to hockey."
The NHL has attempted to cut down on head shots but maintains that fighting and hard checking are integral and traditional components of the game.
"Supporters might further argue that spectators expect fighting and that the game will become less enthralling without intentional head hits," Kale wrote.
But he noted that people also thought banning smoking in bars would mean fewer patrons, and that hasn't happened.
"If fighting is banned, several spectators who currently do not watch the game may start watching it," Kale said.
Head injuries have been making headlines during the past year as stars such as Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger have been sidelined because of concussions.