By Ken Reed

In this era of heightened sensitivity to concussions and brain trauma in sports, the fact fighting can result in concussions should be enough reason to ban the ugly practice. But clearly Gary Bettman and his NHL cronies aren’t moved by that reasoning.

So, it’s time to take apart all the myths that the NHL’s old-school dinosaurs use to defend fighting.

The policing argument is a favorite of the macho man NHL set. The thinking goes that enforcers actually make the game cleaner. But when enforcers were at their peak in the 70’s and 80’s, all types of penalty minutes from that period were at record highs. It was the most violent time period in league history. The stats clearly show that the policing argument in favor of fighting doesn’t hold up.

That brings us to Paul Busch, an avid hockey fan who’s developed a website called “It’s Not Part of the Game.” His website is designed to methodically and factually deflate all the arguments for fighting.

Through the last few years, Busch has masterfully debunked all the myths supporting fighting. A recent Busch post destroys the argument that fighting reduces cheap shots and dangerous hits.

“Of all the myths associated with why fighting is “part of the game” the perception that it somehow controls the rats in the game is the most pervasive,” writes Busch. “Common sense, or simply being a hockey fan for an extended period of time, would tell you that the opposite is true. And then of course you could simply rely on the facts.

“Pro-fight fans and the majority of NHL players will tell you that fighting reduces cheap shots or dangerous hits. Therefore we should clearly see a correlation between fighting and clean hockey where penalties are minimal and rat behavior is nonexistent. I’ve published several articles on this site using an analysis of fighting and Rat PIM stats to demonstrate very clearly that the opposite is true.”

Busch then produces a compelling statistical and graphical case against this flawed argument.

In conclusion, he nails what fighting in the NHL is all about.

“Fighting is retribution,” writes Busch.

“Players feel that it must remain in the game because they don’t believe that the officials can control the game or that the penalties are not sufficient to meet their perception of justice. Fighting is a symptom of that breakdown in how the game is played and enforced – and based on facts and common sense it has no positive policing role in hockey.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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