Debatable Topics in the NHL

John Scott, Shawn ThorntonTo me, hockey fighting is legitimately the most exciting moment in all of sports.  I love the big goals, the big hits, and everything else that hockey, as well as other sports, bring into play.  The aspect of fighting is a whole other game…  The NHL is the only professional (non-fighting based) sport that condones two men to physically assault one another.  For something that any man would end up in jail for, the NHL gives it the okay, and simply put, I love it.

Over the past two nights in the NHL, there have been two TKO fights.  The first video you see here is from last night’s game featuring the Ottawa Senator’s and the Toronto Maple Leafs:

 

Franzer McLaren faced off with David Dziurynski in a battle that was agreed upon.  These are my favorite fights.  Right off the face off, both men agreeing, squaring up, grappling and then getting to business.  Unfortunately for Dziurynski, McLaren got the better hold and landed a brutal right hand punch to his jaw area.  Dzjurynski was immediately out cold and was still very wobbly on his way to the locker room.  This is not what I want to see when two guys go at it.  I like a nice bout where both men can exchange blows as they feel appropriate and end it when they are ready to end it.  Another misfortune for Dzjurynski was that he was actually doing okay in this fight up until that moment.  He landed two solid rights but was then put down hard.  I truly hope big David is okay and that we can see him out on the ice, healthy again soon.  My prayers are with him.

The second video is from two nights ago.  A game between the Kings and the Blues featured a tilt between Kyle Clifford and Roman Polak.  Once again, Polak did okay for himself, landing a nice right hand to the jaw of Clifford.  However, on a simultaneous blow by Clifford, Polak was put down hard.  Clifford landed a right-handed uppercut to the jaw of Polak and knocked him out momentarily.  I believe McLaren’s knockout punch was more devastating than this one, but still, this was no love tap.  Once again, I hope and pray for the speedy recovery of Roman Polak.

Both of these knockouts were on arranged fights, which to me, is the best way to do them. This way, both men have the ability to set themselves up and be as prepared as possible for counter attacks by the opposing player.  However, sometimes, things don’t go as planned for one man, and knockouts like this occur.  Which leads to the debate that will be brewing in the NHL soon:

Should fighting be allowed in the NHL?

If you’ve watched Sportscenter lately, you should have seen the Roger Goodell story, that revolves around his fear of someone dying on the field.  Someone close to Goodell said that he spoke freely of his fear of someone dying out there.  Goodell claimed to not make these statements, however, we know he has got to be thinking this.  As a matter of fact, all commissioners must be fearful of this.  No one wants to see a fastball hit a man in the head and kill him, a punch to the temple go the wrong way, or vicious hit that goes terribly wrong.  It’s the last thing that should happen during a sporting game meant for entertainment.  This is why player safety issues are being brought up so frequently in all sports.  Player safety is important and necessary.

So, should fighting be banned in hockey?  My simple response is, “No.”  I have to admit that if the element of fighting were not in the game I would very rarely watch the sport.  The other night, when the Sabres played the Hurricanes, I turned the game off because Buffalo’s bruisers were not playing (John Scott, Pat Kaleta, and Cody McCormick (who was released)).  It is just an element of the game that is so exciting to the common viewer.  What other sport allows two men to just go out there and solve there problems mono E mono?

Although my vote to ban fighting in hockey is a solid NO, if the NHL were to eventually take this out of the game, I would completely understand.  No one wants to see someone get hurt to the point that it is life threatening or that could have long-term negative side effects.  I fear that one day, someone will die due to injuries obtained by a fight on the ice, whether it be from a vicious punch, or from the head of the fighter smashing into the ice.  I fully expect fighting to be taken out of the game at some point in this wonderful game.  My hope is that it will not be because of someone being killed out there.

If fighting is to be continued in the NHL, they may want to consider making certain rules and understandings for the willing combatants: 

 

1. No player can throw a punch until the two men have a grasp on each other’s jersey.  Not abiding to this rule will lead to a fine and suspension.  Here is what the NHL is trying to stop from happening: 

2. No player can instigate a fight with a player that is not willing to fight.  This should be called the “Chara rule”.  No one wants to fight big Z and you often see him picking on undersized opponents.  Not abiding by this rule should lead to multiple game suspensions and bigger fines.

3. Both players should have helmets on when entering the fight.

4. No player can throw punches while another player’s jersey has gone over his head.  Here is a perfect example of sportsmanship displayed in a fight, by Cody McCormick:

5. When one player is exhausted and wants the fight to stop, the other player should concede. 

I believe that if rules like this are put into the game, we will not have to see the day that fighting is taken out of the game.  These rules would help keep the actual fighting aspect, a much more organized thing and should help eliminate injuries.

The NHL player’s association has the ability to vote on whether or not they want fighting in the league.  A vote that took place last year, asking over 200 NHL players, whether they wanted fighting in the league or not, was left with the result of only one NHL player voting that no, they did not want fighting in the league.  From a viewer’s perspective, we must know that in almost all of these fights, both men are willing to oblige and know what they are getting themselves into.  They are aware of the possibility that a life-threatening injury could possibly come from this.  So, my sympathies are with those players who have gotten hurt during a fight, because I truly respect what you do, however, you know what may come of it, so be careful before you answer, “Yes”, to hockey’s most anticipated question: “You wanna go?”

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