By Ken Reed

The nation is still abuzz over the great hockey game between the United States and Russia at the Olympic Games last week. The USA scored a thrilling shootout victory over the Russians.

The Olympics are providing us an entertaining hockey tournament that highlights skill over the thuggery too often on display in the NHL.

According to Paul Busch, who runs a great website called “It’s Not Part of the Game,” there have only been eight fights in 500 Olympic hockey games since 1960.

In his blog, Busch builds a rational, fact-based, well-sourced argument for the elimination of fighting from the NHL and other levels of hockey. His recent entry on the difference between Olympic and NHL hockey is spot on.

“It would appear that the difference between the Olympics and the NHL is about attitude,” writes Busch. “One focuses on the sport and attempts to keep the side show out of the game. The other tolerates an activity that has nothing to do with hockey and everything about promoting violence and retribution.”

An apt conclusion, but Busch goes even deeper.

“The Olympics is a truly special event that can be held up as an example of hockey that focuses on skill and reduced violence through enforcement of the rules,” writes Busch.

“The real reason that you cannot compare it to the NHL has nothing to do with the length of the tournament or the higher level of skill involved. It has everything to do with the ideals that are represented and what they believe is part of the game. The NHL and NHLPA cling to the myths of enforcement while what they really want is revenge. They believe that cheap shots and violence is controlled by allowing players to punch each other repeatedly in the head. The discussion should be about attitude, not about rules or the size of the ice.”

Busch asks a poignant question:

“If the Olympics can deliver high intensity and entertaining hockey without fighting, then why does the NHL continue to tolerate it?”

Why indeed?

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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