Fighting in Hockey: A Necessary Paradox

In recent years, the NHL news has comprised of the McDavid vs Eichel and Matthews vs Laine. But with recent pressure from other professional sports league, the NHL has been faced with the negative press of the negative side effects of multiple concussions in a physical sport such as hockey.

The NHL response to this was to take steps to eliminate fighting all together from the game. The debate has been waged for years “Does fighting in hockey actually make the game safer?” In an article published by The Hockey News in November 2013, the players themselves think that fighting does in fact act as thermostat for the game. Columbus Blue Jackets enforcer, Jared Boll,  was quoted in the article stating “I think you’d see more [cheapshots] by people being dumb on the ice and running around and knowing that they don’t have to face anyone or answer the bell if they do something stupid”.

Now by all means in my playing career I was not going to be the next Crosby or Ovechkin — so in order to try and peruse my dream I took up the role of being an enforcer. Was I worried about the consequences of getting punched in head repeatedly? Of course I was. If you aren’t then there are bigger questions. But what drove me to continue was seeing the impact my presence alone had not only on my teammates but the opposing team. I knew full well by going up to Canada to play Juniors that I would be fighting guys bigger and more experienced, but how one deals with fear is as personal as their choice of equipment.

Ask any skill player if they feel more comfortable playing on a team with an enforcer or one without. Hands down they will tell you they want that kind of player in the locker next to them. By having an enforcer, it allows the skill players to have more room on the ice than normal. Look at Gretzky, he had McSorley and Semenko. Without them there is no Great One. Enforcers are some of the hardest working and most loyal individuals you will ever meet. This is evident by our willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. If fighting is eliminated players’ careers will be cut much shorter than they are now.