By Ken Reed

The Mayo Clinic recently held a conference on concussions in hockey. One of the outcomes was researchers calling for a ban on fighting at all levels of the game of hockey.

Dr. Michael Stuart, a director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center and the chief medical officer for USA Hockey, called for professional and junior hockey leagues to instigate automatic ejections and suspensions for fighting. Currently, pro and junior leagues typically assess a five-minute penalty for fighting, and allow offenders to return to the game.

“Science has responded to the game on the ice,” said Ken Dryden, a Hall-of-Fame goalie for the Montreal Canadians and a member of the Canadian Parliament. “Now it’s time for the game to respond to the science.”

Other attendees said the National Hockey League (NHL) should drop fighting for reasons beyond safety and health, noting liability issues.

Fighting isn’t an accepted part of hockey at all levels, nor is it condoned in every country that plays the game. For example, players who fight in NCAA college hockey, European hockey leagues, and youth hockey leagues in both the United States and Canada are ejected and sometimes suspended depending on the circumstances. Only the NHL, various other pro hockey leagues in North America and most junior leagues in Canada continue to tolerate fighting despite the brain trauma and concussion risks.

“As contorted as the NHL’s arguments always are in terms of responding to concerns about fighting, I think they’re almost at the final point of contortion,” said Dryden.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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