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Fighting in hockey

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Forgive me if this was discussed on a running thread, but Bob Probert's brain, it turned out, had the same disease (CTE) that football players are suffering from.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/hockey/blackhawks/ct-spt-0304-hockey-fighting-chicago--20110303,0,6727893,full.story


    This raises the age-old debate: Does fighting have any place in the game?

    Seems barbaric to me, and it's shocking that they let it go on. On the other hand, I understand the counterargument that fighting is the only thing that keeps catastrophic injuries from happening because guys think twice about taking cheap shots.

    Puckheads?
     
  2. I didn't read the article, so forgive my naivete, but wouldn't more concussions in hockey come from hard checks against players/boards/ice than fists?
     
  3. Smash Williams

    Smash Williams Well-Known Member

    Bob Probert was also involved in more bar fights than possibly any hockey player other than a Hanson and a long-time substance abuser. He had CTE, yes, but he's far from a great example of "Hockey fights cause CTE!" Also, as much research as there is on CTE, there's very little (that I've found anyway) to compare the brains of people who play professional football or hockey to people who play recreational football or hockey as children or adults or even against true controls. It's fascinating emerging science, but it's still emerging.

    As for why fighting, the general argument is it introduces an immediate consequence for a dangerous hit. Getting tossed from a game (or several) is not much of a consequence if you injure another team's star player and therefore increase your team's chance of passing them in the standings. Getting your face beat in is a pretty large consequence when that can result in broken jaws, orbitals, concussions or the like. It is barbaric but so are contact sports in general.

    I am not the fan of fighting that some are, but I don't mind them when they happen in the flow of a game. I also think that these are willing adults who know there can be long-term consequences to getting punched in the head repeatedly, and if they want to take that risk, so be it. Fighting is, for the most part, banned in youth hockey. Professionals who want to risk it are free too just like any adult is free to make a less-than-desirable decision.

    And Corky - yes, most hockey concussions are not related to fights. Like football, it would be nearly impossible to legislate concussions out of hockey because of the nature of the sport. You will always have head vs. boards/ice even if you eliminate all body contact to the head. And that's before you account for collisions that are no one's fault to begin with.
     
  4. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    I talked about this on the hockey thread a bit, but I'll rehash to some degree.

    On the surface it's good PR right now to cut fighting out completely, but then they are still ignoring the cause of head injuries in hockey, and it sure isn't for the most part fighting. Crosby's concussion, for example, wasn't from a fight. The vast majority of them are from hits to the head (i.e. body checks, elbows, head driven into glass, player hits head on ice, etc).

    You are never going to completely eliminate concussions from a contact sport. It is part of the risk you take when you play the game. What you can do is limit the number of blindside hits to the head, the real cheap shots, which the NHL has tried to do, but I argue the penalties need to be much stiffer. There are other issues at play with concussions in hockey like speed of the game and equipment used as well as size of the players, but if there is no respect from a segment of players it gets that much more dangerous.

    Fighting is one of the few things that keeps some of that respect in the game -- although admittedly that is not the only reason fights happen in the NHL. Just last night, for example, the first overall pick in the last draft -- Taylor Hall -- dropped the gloves because he was tired of bigger players taking liberties with him, mind you he suffered a freak high ankle sprain when they got tangled up and fell to the ice, but that's beyond the point. There is still a role for it.

    I would also rather see two people fight than someone resort to, as I put it on the other thread, a McSorely-like chop to the head, or a Bertuzzi-like sneak attack on another player.

    Probert's own wife said she doesn't believe the CTE was from fighting but from hits he took during games and from other incidents away from the ice. He played in an era where if you got your bell rung you played through it and as well know now that is about the worst thing you can do. Now they take every preventative measure to make sure you are right before you play another game after a hit to the head. Which is where this research has really helped and the next phase of it is to find a way to diagnose it before the guy dies, find some scan that will pick it up, and from there increasing safety and understanding of concussions in contact sports will really take off.
     
  5. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    Or you could beat me to it Smash.
     
  6. Smash Williams

    Smash Williams Well-Known Member

    But you said it so much more eloquently.

    I like what the NHL did with the blindside rule (though god knows they'd don't apply it consistently. I can think of at least 5-6 off the top of my head that went unpunished because there wasn't a dramatic injury or ensuing brawl). I like what they implied with the Kostopoulos suspension though I think they need to actually make something illegal before suspending a guy for it. I think they can always do more about eliminating dangerous hits that involve the head - Clutterbuck and Weber each deserved a couple games for dangerous boarding penalties last week.

    But fighting tends to keep itself pretty well in control, honestly. Almost all of the fighters let up once a guy is down and in a vulnerable position, and you see very, very few knock out blows from fights or even punches that leave guys truly dazed.
     
  7. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    You're too kind.

    I agree, the suspensions for blindside and dangerous hits needs to be applied more often -- the clutterbuck hit before he was hit by Gillies stands out immediately.

    Unfortunately I haven't been able too watch as much hockey as I wish I could have this year -- not having cable until after Christmas would be why -- but I can only think of one or two punches in a fight from this season that KO'd his opponent -- MacIntyre on Ivannans to open the season between the Oilers and Flames is the one I remember immediately.
     
  8. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Just saw a nice, solid hockey fight in an AHL game tonight. Two guys threw off their gloves and helmets, danced around in a circle for a good 20 seconds, then started wailing away on each other. Only one guy really landed any punches. Crowd loved it and I think both hockey players loved it.

    Another shorter fight came later. Refs broke both up as soon as the goons fell to the ice. Fights went just as they should have.
     
  9. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, Probert's not the best one to use to make a larger point. But fighting on the NHL level won't go away; it's too ingrained in the culture, it has a system of honor to it, and it is an outlet that reduces the chance of butchery with sticks. And I think tacitly, the NHL is fine with a little bit of it as a way to help get on the highlight shows more.
     
  10. Fighting is the greatest regular of over-the-top, brain-damage-inducing checks you can get in the NHL. Take away fighting and you're going to see a lot more Scott Stevens-Eric Lindros style hits (not saying it wasn't clean or legal) because there's no one to enforce some level of sanity.
     
  11. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    I love hockey, but I can't stand the fighting. It's senseless and dangerous. And yes, I realize more injuries happen from contact during play. But I still say it's laughable that the NHL claims to be concerned about concussions and player safety while it still allows guys to brawl with each other. Every time I see guys fight, I wait for someone to fall to the ice awkwardly and hit his head, or hurt his hand or worse. How would you feel if you ran the Islanders, and your goalie -- who you're paying $4.5 million a year -- goes and gets his face busted up?

    Every time I hear this argument that the players "have to police themselves," I get disgusted. How about the refs policing them? How about -- as someone said above -- real, honest-to-goodness penalties for blind-side hits and irresponsible, wreckless play? I simply don't get this whole idea that players need to be able to beat on each other. How come this same need doesn't exist in football, where the contact is more constant and more brutal? You don't hear football guys saying, "We need to police ourselves." I find the "policing" thing to be preposterous ... it's like a little kid holding steadfast to his point in an argument, even after it's clear his point is illogical.

    I realize it's rooted in hockey culture, but I think it's needless and senseless. It's far and away the best league in the world. And it still would be without fighting.
     
  12. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    It is too difficult to compare football and hockey and say, well one doesn't do it so the other shouldn't either. It's apples and oranges.

    In football they also aren't going at near the speed they do in the NHL or carry sticks which far too often are used as weapons. Also in football you have how many refs and linesmen that can call any penalty in the book at any time? In hockey you have two refs and even still you can get away with so much behind their back or in traffic. The game is also far more free flowing where as the average football play lasts what, 5 seconds? There is much more opportunity to gather yourself and cool off where that opportunity doesn't necessarily exist in hockey as much.

    I'm also the one that said more and stiffer penalties need to be enforced, but with the cockeyed reasoning of the league you never know how something is going to be called or how stiff a penalty is going to be levied if any at all.

    And sometimes there is no better way to create a little space for yourself and create respect among your teammates and opponents then showing them you are willing to drop the gloves and stand up for yourself. This is especially necessary if you are a smaller team and are constantly abused by the bigger teams and often within the constraints of the rule book. You can only take so much shit sometimes.
     
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