"Anybody who says they don't like fighting in the NHL have to be out of their minds." - Don Cherry
"Red ice sells hockey tickets." — Bob Stewart - 1950
Fighting is never worth it.
Maybe I don’t understand ‘The Code’ or the culture of fighting in hockey on a personal level, but I do understand that it part of the game that is dying. Gone are the days of the enforcers and in are the days with skill and speed.
This change has been happening since at least 2013 when George Parros was pulled down by Colton Orr and hitting the ice face first, getting knocked out and causing a concussion. It also started to make people wonder if fighting should be in the league.
Soon you saw the role of the enforcer leaving the game. Players who were mostly brought on to fight not being re-signed or being sent down to the AHL. The hybrid players, the more skilled players who also fought, have started to lean on their skills more.
Gone are the days of the “only there to punch faces” enforcer.
I’ve seen a fight basically end someone’s career. Joe Vitale is dealing with concussion issues and the after effects of a fractured orbital bone. He may never play again. He fought Kevan Miller because Oliver Ekman-Larsson stirred everyone up after a play. No blame goes to Ekman-Larsson, but this made protecting the star player needed. Had it been Ekman-Larsson, who knows where the team would be right now.
For reference, here is the fight.
I was at the game the night that fight happened. Vitale was off to the penalty box, touching his face, like he knew something was wrong. My seats had a clear view of the box. Ekman-Larsson was also in the box for roughing. He leaned over to Vitale and seemingly asked if he was okay. After OEL’s time was up and the play stopped, Vitale left the box to go to the room. Thus ending his first and only game of the season and possibly career.
The Coyotes have seen Max Domi drop the gloves more and more. His father Tie, was the enforcer, but Domi should be focused on his skill play and not fighting others. Domi should not be becoming his dad.
Last year, Domi was suspended for a game for instigating a fight with less than five minutes left in the game, in a losing match, because OEL had taken a pretty dubious hit from Ryan Garbutt. Most people thought he would get more games because he jumped the guy, but it was the automatic one game for instigation.
This can’t be Domi’s game. He is highly skilled forward who can make teams pay on the score sheet, not with his fists.
More so, fights don’t change the momentum of a game. They don’t bring anything to the game. Sometimes, all it does is give the other team a reason to kick-it into gear. Teams employ the Milan Lucics and Matt Martins of the hockey world, but they also are productive hockey players.
Ryan White has been involved in a few fights that made no sense. Is he here to help the team win, or is here to cause fights? He says he’s there to be the spark, but fighting less than two minutes into the game, doesn’t do anything to the momentum.
I can’t argue that a lot of fans are pro-fighting, or come to games hoping for a fight, but at this point fighting isn’t worth the risk anymore. Broken hands, broken faces, and concussions can all come from fights, even if it is one that’s ‘needed’, injuries like that are what kill teams.
The Western Conference used to be about being big and banging bodies. That’s no longer the case with most of the league going for speed and skill. Once that starts to change, more fighting will go out of the game.
I don’t want any players injured because of fighting. Justifying a fight with ‘but that guy took a run at our guy’ is getting old. A legal hit is not ‘taking a run at your guy.’ It’s a hockey play. If someone gets elbowed in the head, that’s a match penalty and the guy is going to get suspended most likely anyways.
Retaliation will only cause more harm to your team then good. Look at Vancouver and the Leafs a few weeks ago. I think Steve Dangle explains it best in his LFR video from that game. You can watch the whole thing or just start where I have it here.
In case you can’t/didn’t watch the video. Because of the shenanigans in the Canucks/Leafs game with Matt Martin going after Troy Stecher, and Eric Gudbranson yelling ‘Matt Martin Is Dead.’ Something might happen to one of the star players for the Leafs. (He also uses a trash can to describe Alex Burrows and it makes me happy.)
You cannot allow things like this to tempt people to hurt players on your team. Accidents happen, bad hits happen, mistakes happen. But this retaliation fight culture needs to change, or someone is going to have their career ended again.
Fighting is not necessary, it only causes more issues in the long run for the players who do. We can’t have another summer of 2011 ever again.