The rough-and-tumble nature of the NHL has come under scrutiny lately, with many arguing in favor of limiting the roles of enforcers — or “goons” — as a way of preventing unnecessary injuries.
This was one of the topics on the table when Bruins legend Bobby Orr sat down with NBC’s Bob Costas for an interview set to air Tuesday on Costas Tonight. In the interview, Orr contests the notion that bruisers have no place in the game, trumpeting the popular notion that rougher players perform the important task of protecting their more skilled teammates from unwarranted attacks.
“If a player has done something that he shouldn’t be doing, or is trying to intimidate a player that doesn’t play like that, if you’re trying to take liberties with a player that doesn’t play like that, there should be a policeman there,” Orr said. “I want to see the skill players play. I don’t want to see them looking over their shoulders.
“That’s what makes our game great. We’ve got a lot of skilled players in this game. I go back to Sidney [Crosby] — where do you want Sidney? Fighting? Penalty box? Injured? Or do you want to see him play?”
There is a difference between standing up for your teammates and fighting because you can, however.
Flyers goalie Ray Emery‘s decision to go after a clearly unwilling Braden Holtby earlier this month is the latest instance of a bout that served little purpose beyond taking out the frustration of a blowout loss. Fights like these, Orr says, are what the NHL needs to rid itself of.
“We gotta get rid of the foolishness,” he said. “The things that happen for no reason. If we get rid of that, we’ll be fine.”
Hear more from Orr in the video below.