I have just completed your article this morning regarding the "perceived" chaos that you feel fighting has in hockey. Fighting in hockey goes far beyond being a spectacle of entertainment for the fans. There are many aspects of the sport that millions of Canadians enjoy and fighting is one of them. However, the purpose of fighting goes far beyond satisfying the blood thirsty appetites of the fans. Fighting is there to protect the skilled players from sloppy hits and bullies on the ice. Wayne Gretzky himself has noted that without the likes of Dave Semenko protecting he may not have enjoyed the relatively injury free career he had.
It humours me when you debate the fighting issue and state it has no place in hockey but at the same time your paper dedicates a page of your sports section to MMA. Also your survey questions should be prefaced by: "Do you or did you ever play organized hockey?" There is no place for fighting in amateur hockey, but at the pro level you need to ask the players.
Everyone these days is saying fighting should be banned from hockey, too many people are getting hurt, and of course that unfortunate accident that happened to Don Sanderson. The thing is, has anyone thought of what would happen if it actually is taken out? OK, with fighting gone the gloves will stay on, and so will the helmets, but how do teams retaliate to an enforcer or a big hitter taking a run at a team's franchise player? There will be more people swinging sticks at heads, spearing and butt-ending. I mean you have the defend your smaller players somehow.
Regarding fighting in the NHL, Wendel Clark's quote hit it on the nose. "At the bantam and midget levels, not just at AAA but AA and A too, the amount of fights are going up. It is not part of the game there. There are no rules. You fight, you're kicked out. Yet it's increasing. Who is condoning this for our kids? Coaches, parents, whoever it is, it has to stop." Whoever means the NHL, where adults (supposedly) are showing our kids it's OK to fight, instead of setting a good example for them and promoting sportsmanship. No other team sport allows fighting and they are doing OK.
This is a kneejerk reaction to a very unfortunate incident. Fighting in hockey has been in the game since inception and judging from the thousands of people who rise to their feet when the gloves come off, one must remember: Hockey is entertainment, plain and simple. I challenge anyone to take the top 100 bodychecks and compare them to the top 100 fights, then look at what causes more injuries. Excluding head shots, bodychecks still cause more injuries than fights. Does this mean we will banish bodychecking when someone is seriously injured? Where does it end?
"That leaves blood on all our hands," Paul Friesen said in Point/Counterpoint. What a drama queen. Keep the fighting its awesome and yes it sells. This politically correct BS is going to ruin all sports. Would Friesen like to have nerf sticks and pucks as well. And by the way, I have played both hockey and football and the fights that occur during scrimmages are dirtier and more dangerous than any hockey fight. Go back to your ballet class!
As someone who played junior B hockey (not pro, I admit) and also university football in the province of Ontario, I can assure you that of the 25 hardest hits I took in both sports, 23 at least of them were on the football field. I never found it necessary to throw off my helmet and punch the fellow who hit me, neither did any of my teammates or our opponents for that matter. Pushing and shoving can and did result in immediate ejection from the field in football. Nobody will ever convince me that hockey is a rougher, tougher sport and therefore players are unable to keep their emotions in check and must be allowed the release of fighting.
You chose to do an unbiased opinion poll right after an inflammatory hockey incident? You had absolutely no comment on a stick spearing incident when Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators "slashed" another player in the stomach in retaliation for a mere shove from behind? Where is there a picture showing the alternative to a fighting incident? You will comment when somebody gets a ruptured spleen. Take fighting out of the game and all you will have left will be enforcers with sticks. Ask yourself what the alternative to fighting will be.
Hockey without a scrap is simply not complete. We need fights and scraps. It's part of the heritage of the game itself.
Fighting is not only a integral part of the momentum, flow and outcome of a game, but also it is one of the only parts of our game that is exciting enough to convince a fence-sitting fan to watch. So in my opinion, fighting has a great deal to do with the survival of the game itself.