Fighting In The NHL: A Compromise? Part Deux

Yesterday's post on fighting in the NHL brought a nearly-unprecedented amount of traffic and discussion to this little ol' blog (combine that with a link from the mighty Deadspin on the Jagr-in-drag post and traffic was like the beltway at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon in July). Reading some of the comments here and elsewhere (thanks to whomever seeded it - I like being called a moron in as many fora as possible), I wanted to clarify two apparent misconceptions:
  1. I'm not for banning fighting in the NHL. That's why I wrote "the NHL needs fighting."
  2. I don't think that cheap shots like the Chris Simon two-handed chop and fighting are the same thing. That's why I differentiated amongst three distinct events running the cheapshot-to-fair-fight spectrum and noted how while hockey fans can tell the difference, the mainstream media and casual fans often cannot.
The bottom line to me is that fighting is hockey's "gun control" or "abortion" or "gay marriage" - everyone's got an opinion on it, most people voice an opinion borne of passion and, to an extent, tradition and/or morality, and the vast majority of the public is somewhere in the middle on the issue. Nevertheless, the voices that you hear reverberating through media outlets, chat rooms and message boards come from the extremes - "if you take away my assault rifle, my hand gun will be next" or "keep your laws off of my body," or, in the case of fighting in hockey, you'd think it was a choice between "if you don't like fighting, go watch figure skating" or "if you want to watch fighting, go watch the UFC."

What I did was to take a stab at trying to come up with a middle ground, a compromise that maintains nearly all of the physicality of the game (and its adoring fans) while at the same time protecting players and the game's image, allowing new fans exposure to the game we all know and love.

If ever there was an issue in hockey that was playing out like something straight from Capitol Hill and political talk shows, it's this one. And just like in American politics, the noise machines at either end of the spectrum are drowning out the overwhelming majority of the interested public who occupies a sensible middle ground, a middle ground in which they can enjoy a good scrap that serves a purpose but have less fear that they're going to see someone die right before their eyes.

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