The National Hockey League and Fighting: It's Time For a Change

Another NHL hockey season has come to an end.

Because of what occurred in Vancouver after the game, I believe the League needs to once again look at the violence that exists in their sport.

It’s time for the National Hockey League to ban fighting.

Rule 46 of the league’s rulebook covers fighting and reads as follows: A fight shall be deemed to have occurred when at least one player (or goalkeeper) punches or attempts to punch an opponent repeatedly or when two players wrestle in such a manner as to make it difficult for the Linesmen to intervene and separate the combatants.

I understand that hockey is a contact sport but so is basketball, baseball, and football. In those professional sports, a fight by its players leads to an automatic ejection. In the NHL, players who fight are assessed a penalty. But two minutes or five minutes in the penalty box is simply not enough.

Fighting is rarely if ever seen in hockey played in college, the Olympics, and international competitions. Instead what fans see is skating, passing and shooting. Players and teams showing finesse and skill in this fast moving, beautiful sport.

There are those who would make the argument that fighting has been a part of the game since its inception. To those who make that argument, my retort is simple:  that doesn’t make it right or good for the game in the twenty-first century.

I have also heard time and again that if the NHL prohibits fighting, fans will stop attending games. And that is fine. If they are only there because they hope to watch their team’s enforcer pummel another player, they aren’t true fans of the sport.

And I believe that for the fans who won’t attend or watch on TV, there are many who would become new fans because they appreciate the beauty and skill of the real game.

I am not contending that the post game violence was directly related to fighting in the NHL. But I do believe that to allow players who are paid millions to settle their differences during the game with fights, promotes the idea that violence is ok.

The intentional and senseless mob violence which left 150 people injured and millions of dollars in damage did not happen because  of the NHL and their history of fighting but it promotes the slippery slope that violence is an acceptable solution to everything.

I feel that if the NHL banned fighting or penalized fighting with long suspensions, eventually the real game will rise to the top.

Wouldn’t you rather watch highlights like these:





Tags: Fighting Linesman NHL Olympics Vancouver

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