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It seems to me that over the last few months, the hockey world has taken a very different look at fighting and even those who have been stubbonly pro-fighting are starting to change their minds. The coverage of this topic is everywhere and so I thought that I would put my thoughts into the ring.
I have always been someone who believes that “enforcers” and “tough guys” have a important place in the game. However, the role of the “enforcer” has changed over the years and the form that it takes now is no longer of any value to the game of hockey. When you see Iginla drop the gloves and take on an opponent, that’s entertaining, it’s emotional, it’s spur of the moment and it’s someone trying to help his team win. However, when two players without NHL level hockey skills arrange to drop the gloves at centre ice because that’s their “role”, it just seems pointless to me. It’s like a side show. Hockey is the most entertaining sport on earth, it doesn’t need side shows, in fact they cheapen the game.
So, really my stance is that fighting has a place in hockey, but scheduled, organized fights between two players who are not really part of the actual hockey game is not that place. Unfortunately, I don’t think that changing rules will provide the necessary changes. Totally banning fighting from hockey is not the answer and is probably not really possible. Changing the culture is what is required. Making it acceptable for two players to have a battle in the heat of the moment, but unacceptable for unskilled players to take up room on rosters. It’s a huge mountain to climb for the NHL as they will have to take the forefront on this issue. I truly hope that they don’t try to remove it from the game, but try to adjust the thinking to ensure that skilled players play and decide the game at all times.