How More NHL Fighting Can Save Hockey
By George Kurtz
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I love the game of hockey. I enjoy following it (Islanders fan), playing it, watching it, writing about it, and of course the Fantasy side of it. I’ve been a fan since the late 1970s. Living on Long Island and only a few miles from Nassau Coliseum, it’s not hard to understand why I became addicted as that time period was when the Islanders were about to start their Stanley Cup dynasty.
The game has changed over the years. Some for the good, and some not so much. One of the biggest changes has been the near elimination of fighting. It hasn’t been completely eradicated, but the NHL has done its best in this politically correct society to keep it to a minimum. Here are five reasons that I would like to see NHL fighting brought back.
1. I’ll never understand all the outrage about fighting in hockey. I’m not advocating for the all-out bench clearing brawls we had in the 1970s (although those were fun to watch), but there is nothing wrong with two willing participants dropping the gloves and going at it. That’s the key there. Some of these fights were even staged. The players are trying to get their teammates and possibly even the crowd pumped up. It’s their job and part of the reason they are on the team.
2. Hockey is a violent game. There’s hitting and slashing. Some players push the boundary also. It’s amazing how tough someone thinks they are when they have a weapon in their hands with little fear of retribution other than a possible two-minute penalty. Well, it seems when fighting was more prevalent, stick fouls weren’t as flagrant. Coincidence? Maybe, but sometimes it is better to let the players police themselves and understand that the penalty for taking stick liberties may be more severe than just a couple of minutes in the sin bin.
3. Hockey is always struggling for ratings. ESPN dropped coverage of the NHL because poker drew more viewers. Now, I like and play poker, but that’s crazy. Wouldn’t more fighting lead to more viewers? Look how well the UFC does. You can’t tell me that fighting is barbaric but then also watch the UFC or boxing. That’s about as hypocritical as it gets.
4. More fighting will lead not only to more fans in the stands, but more fans staying until the end of games. I don’t like to see fighting just for the sake of fighting or to send a message but a team losing big is more likely to try and take out some frustrations later in the game. Once again, as long as it’s a fair fight, why not?
5. Did anyone watch the Calgary-Detroit game last Wednesday? If you did, then you saw multiple fights happening at the same time. This was essentially a line brawl. It combines several of the above reasons for fighting. Calgary was losing big. They were frustrated. There were willing participants on both sides. The remaining fans were cheering and there were eyeballs on the screens. I’d much rather see a good fight then a dirty slash any day. There are no goons in today’s NHL. Those were players who could fight very well on skates but offered no other skill or talent relevant to the game. Those that can fight must have other skills to help the team in today’s game, fighting is just a bonus and it may be a necessary one if the NHL ever wants to come back into prominence in the world of sports.
You can find me on Twitter, @georgekurtz
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