Oct 24, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Cody McLeod (55) fights with Vancouver Canucks right wing Derek Dorsett (51) fight in the first period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Banning Fighting Seems Inevitable
Detractors of the violence in hockey are always going to point to fighting as a blazing beacon of irresponsibility by the league by being virtually the only modern sport that allows it. There are a lot of really nasty injuries that have resulted from fighting – all of them are voluntary by nature, but are usually gruesome.
It might not happen for a while longer yet, but I’d guess within the next five or so seasons, they’ll pull the plug on letting pugilists create a spark for their team. It’s too easy a target. Its admittedly pretty dispensable, although I’m a fan myself.
Derek Boogaard, when he played for the New York Rangers, played a pretty familiar role for the NHL as an enforcer – a role that could be clumsily explained as a goon that punches people during a hockey game. John Branch summarized about the tragic short life of Boogaard in his book “Boys on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard.”
The short story reads that Boogaard was under-informed about concussions, suffered from chronic pain, was prescribed a ludicrous number of drugs and eventually died alone in his apartment. He was 23 years old. Later, it was discovered he had a severe case of CTE.
In that same year, three enforcers died during a four-month period. The information keeps coming out, and there are many more horrifying stories of the aftereffects of repeated punches to the head. The Goon Era is over.
Several NHL general managers like Ray Shero and Jim Rutherford have expressed interest in removing fighting from the game and Gary Bettman may eventually feel enough heat to oblige them. Maybe, you already feel that way. Again, opinions from fans seem like they’ll require more reverence.
Next: Scott Parker