Personal disclosure here. I was an ankle skater who abandoned competitive hockey at age 12. According to former NHLers like P. J. Stock on Hockey Night in Canada, that means I have absolutely no right to editorialize about fighting. But with a brand new season just underway, one can’t help remembering that age old joke .. Hey, I went to the fights the other night, and a hockey game broke out in the stands !
Seriously, don’t you get the feeling that P. J. and Grapes and the others who will defend fighting until they stop breathing are backing a horse who’s ready for the pasture? How much more evidence do we need that fighting and head shots have serious implications for the long term health of those involved?
Instead of truly meaningful sanctions aimed at discouraging fisticuffs, we get Hybrid Icing. Gary Bettman and friends would have us believe that this rule change will make a significant difference when it comes to head injuries.
They continue to subscribe to the view that fighting is part of hockey’s ‘great tradition’, and without it, the anger that builds in the game would manifest itself in other ways.
The suspicion persists that Bettman, who was also an ankle skater, defends fighting because he knows it sells tickets in non traditional hockey markets like Florida.
Why is it that we never see fisticuffs in major international competitions like the Olympics, and we seldom see it in the Stanley Cup playoffs ? Are these events less exciting as a result ? Don Cherry probably says yes.
For me, it was hard to beat the thrill of that gold medal goal in Vancouver by Sidney Crosby. Sidney is a remarkable talent, and a great ambassador for the game we love so much. Hopefully the game will evolve so he might still be playing a decade from now.
I’m Roger Currie