Fighting in Hockey

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  • Topic: Buffalo Sabres
  • Pages : 5 (2356 words )
  • Download(s) : 273
  • Published : September 25, 2008
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ESPN states that Todd Fedoruk was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a fight with Colton Orr during a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. The fight, which took place just 21 seconds into the game, ended when Orr “landed a hard, overhand right.” on Fedoruk who immediately fell backward, unconscious. Philadelphia’s team doctors immediately ran onto the ice to help Fedoruk who earlier this season missed eighteen games after “major facial surgery” from another fight (Philadelphia). Injuries like this have made many people take a deeper look into fighting. Players are getting bigger and stronger, which has resulted in an increase in the number of injuries during the 2007 NHL season. Fighting is also giving hockey a bad image to some, which is turning away potential sponsors and fans. However, fighting in hockey has tolerated since day one. It is also an aspect to the game that draws many people to the game and can also be used as a strategical move to shift momentum and to help star players do their jobs. The players also have unwritten rules they follow to keep fighting from getting out of hand and many believe that fighting prevents dirty plays and cheap shots by keeping players in check. Fighting has always been a part of hockey and should never be taken out.

According to Ross Bernstein, fighting has been part of hockey since it was first created in 1800’s. When the NHL was created in 1917, it was a very rough game where “players had to stickhandle through a gauntlet of flailing fists and elbows, high sticks, and outstretched legs, ready to kick or trip them as they skated by.” The game has cleaned up a lot since then but when the chance came to ban fighting in 1922, The league created rule 56 which only gave a five minute penalty to anyone who engaged in “fisticuffs.” This is when fighting officially became part of hockey (Bernstein 3,4). One of the main reasons fighting was left in the rules was because the owners saw the fans loved the fights and used them to attract fans to the game (Bernstein 4). After 90 years, fighting has become a tradition in the NHL and for many long time hockey fans it would be very hard to see the tradition taken away (Pros). According to veteran hockey player, Jeremy Roenick, “ I think you’re going to lose fans . . .. There’s a large amount of people who love the physical, tough aspect of our sport. And fighting is a favorite of a lot of people” (qtd. in Colin). Fighting is so popular to some people, websites such as have been created along with many DVD’s containing some of hockey’s best fights.

Fighting is normally violent, reckless, and dangerous. However, hockey has established a code of unwritten rules about fighting, which players have followed for over a century to make fighting in hockey safer and more respectable. The code states, in order for two players to “engage in fisticuffs,” both players must agree. If one guy doesn’t want to fight, he doesn’t have to. Normally one player will ask another if they “wanna go.” Many times, something small like eye contact is all that is needed to ask the question. The player who gets challenged has to accept the fight for it to take place (Bernstein 57). While the fight is going on, players should never bite, pull hair, head-but, eye gouge, or use equipment such as a helmet as a weapon or shield. It’s also considered very disrespectful to intentionally pull an opponents jersey over his head. After the linesmen have jumped into the fight and broken it up, both fighters should leave the fight as a gracious winner or a humble loser. Either way the fighters should respect each other just for showing up to the fight (73,75).

Many players believe that there would be more risk without fighting because of an increase in cheap shots, dirty plays, and illegal stick work. Without fighting, players wouldn’t have a way of releasing their frustrations and keeping players from getting too dirty. According to...
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