Will Fighting Be Banned From the NHL?


With yesterday’s CJHL decision to automatically kick players out of the game after engaging in a fight; the question of whether fighting should be banned or if similar rules should be initiated at the NHL level has come up again.

Let me be upfront about my view on fighting in the NHL.  Like most fans I enjoy a good fight in a game. I certainly do not turn my head with disdain.  That being said, if fighting were banned tomorrow, I would still watch the game.  Fighting is not the reason I watch hockey.  And while I enjoy a good tilt, I also am aware of the recent advances in concussion research. I understand that head injuries can have long-term, debilitating effects on people with reoccurring concussions.  So yes, I understand the concern of the many who would like fighting banned from the NHL.

What draws my ire, though, is when I read from many in the media that the NHL is not concerned about player’s safety, because if they were they would just ban fighting.

Since when did the NHL have the power to change rules without the NHLPA’s consent?  During the pre-season the NHL tested hybrid icing, which they had already approved, but it could not become an official rule until the NHLPA approved it by vote before the season started.  So banning fighting would require the player’s approval.

Darren Dreger of TSN advised by twitter that 98% of the players think that fighting should be part of the NHL.   The caveat was that this poll was completed before the George Parros fall.  After that incident involving Parros falling during a fight and suffering an injury, a number of media members polled a significant amount of players in the dressing room. The overwhelming majority of those polled supported keeping fighting in the NHL.  In fact those reporters mentioned it was difficult to find a player that thought fighting should be banned.

The players feel that without fighting that the game would be out of control – the sticks would come up, players would take liberties without any fear of retribution.   They believe fighting is part of the game.

I am not sure if they are correct or not, but it doesn’t matter what I think.  The players paid to take that risk believe it is true and that is all that matters.

Until that view changes, until the players feel that fighting can be removed from the game without the game becoming more dangerous, then this conversation will continue to go in circles.  Fighting will remain part of the game until the players are convinced that it is not an integral part of it.  That seems unlikely to happen any time soon.


Tags: Feature Fighting NHL

  • jdude

    Exactly right!… Fighting is there for a reason, it’s not like hockey didn’t have fighting and one day everyone said “hey lets make fights allowed and see how it goes”
    NO!, fights happen in hockey because of the physical battles that take place. A decent example is the exhibition womens hockey game (Canada vs USa) a week or so ago. There was a big brawl in it, and guess what…. there is no fighting OR hitting allowed in womens hockey…. but it happened (probably because someone did something dirty).
    Problem with hockey is that the refs can’t see everything.. Guys stick there butt ends out when hitting guys, slash, elbow etc etc etc…
    The refs, and even video replay, simply can’t see the little things that players do.
    If a guy is running around being dirty, that’s when a fight HAS to happen to teach the guy a lesson/slow him down. If no one teaches a lesson he will just keep doing it, until someone actually gets hurt, OR someone will teach him a lesson a different way (ie. elbow/stick him back, or hit him from behind.)
    When tensions are high and you are not allowed to fight, players WILL get mad enough to hit someone from behind with an intent to injure, even if they arnt a mean-spirited person that wants to hurt someone. It just happens in the heat of the moment (HOCKEY PLAYERS ARE HUMANS).
    The NHL can and will slowly start making the NHL a cleaner/safer game to play.. they already started with rules like the no headshot hits and how you can’t take your helmet off in a fight.. not to mention the mandatory visors now.. less guys will want to fight if everyone’s wearing a visor because they will have a greater risk of breaking their hand and missing games. Eventually fights will go back to how they were in the olden days where they were more heat-of-the-moment and not so much the “send your tuff guy out and punch someone” how it is today. The “goons” will be without a job eventually because teams will have all 4 lines loaded with good players and the “goons” will be too much a liability to have on the ice at any time.
    Anyways, just thought i’d give my two cents while im bored at work :)
    Thanks for the read

    • jdude

      people think well maybe just make fighting allowed in the nhl because they are all mature men. NO !!!!!!!!! NHL is probably one of the most cleanest leagues in the world because everything is being watched/reviewed. enuff said