Time to make hockey a better sport

CRAIG BUTTON, SPECIAL TO SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

I read the Point/Counterpoint debate on fighting between Paul Friesen and Scott Fisher.

Upon reading a summary of fighting majors in the NHL up to Jan. 5 of this year, I found some interesting statistics.

Of those players who had at least five fights, 36 of the 51 players play less than 10 minutes per game. Of even more interest to me, is that of the 101 players with at least three fights, only four of those players are European.

As for the debate on fighting, it seems as if there is little debate and a lot of defending the status quo.

Engaging in discussion on contentious subjects allows for the understanding of various points and potentially to a better solution. Simply saying it is part of the game is not a discussion. Too many people, in my view, want to hang on to the notion that something is part of the game.

The game has evolved since 1897 because of consideration of many aspects that allowed for the betterment of the game. The subject of fighting is but another one.

A player died because of a fight and there are those who say it is only one person, don't overreact.

I was the general manager of the Calgary Flames and our team was playing when the unfortunate incident in Columbus with the puck striking a young girl in the stands and killing her occurred.

It was only one person but greater safety for spectators became of it due to a healthy discussion and an examination of the issue. That was not an overreaction. The topic of fighting deserves more of the same.

If we continue to fall back on "it is an important part of the game and has always been there," then the risk to hockey could lead to stagnation and the opportunity to make the game and sport better will fall victim to a status quo mentality.

Without the debate, we would have missed many game alterations including the substitution of players, the forward pass, the elimination of bench clearing brawls, the removal of the red line for passing and the shootout.

We all need to participate in the debate, not for ourselves but for our desire to make the game and sport as good as it can be.

---

Craig Button is an analyst for the NHL Network


Videos

Photos