Fighting is one of the most controversial and exciting parts of the NHL game, but a growing number of people would like the league to remove it entirely.
One opponent of fighting is Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford, who recently told TSN’s Darren Dreger that “We’ve got to get rid of fighting, it has to go.”
The league has put a huge emphasis on preventing head injuries, especially concussions, over the last few seasons with a number of rule changes designed to make the game safer.
As one of the most violent aspects of the sport, fighting’s place in the game has come into question following a couple scary moments over the last two weeks involving players slamming their heads on the ice after a bout.
The most recent example is Montreal Canadiens forward George Parros suffering a concussion during Tuesday’s season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was pulled down to the ice by Leafs forward Colton Orr and slammed his chin on the ice. Parros is out indefinitely, and the incident has sparked another heated debate about fighting.
But an elimination of fighting in the near future seems unlikely, and the most notable roadblock is opposition from the players’ union.
Dreger writers that “it’s unlikely the NHLPA will endorse any radical change given the impact of such a move on the role of the enforcer. Ninety-eight per cent of NHL players polled in 2011-2012 were in favour of keeping fighting in the game and while there’s no immediate plan to conduct a new players survey, the overwhelming support to leave things as they are may not change.”
For what it’s worth, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently said in a CBC interview that fighting “is part of the game.”