The Problem With Hockey

If Canadians are supposed to be so polite and Americans so aggressive why is their national game a gentlemens game and our national game a thugs game.

This is just the most recent example of thuggery in Canadian hockey.

Is it the big money involved at the highest level that has removed any semblance of ethics and sportsmanship from hockey, where experts and commentators routinely talk about “good penalties” and where it considered acceptable and even good strategic play to break the rules if the benefit is worth the penalty time. If you can wipe someone out for the season and not get caught it is even better and you can probably expect a bonus somewhere down the line.

Some will argue (why do I have visions of gawdy sports jackets when I type this) that fighting is an intrinsic part of the game and is required to reduce tensions and prevent even more dangerous infractions. If that is so there is something extremely wrong with the game where the most basic ethical principle has become winning at all costs.

In light of this most recent incident some have argued that fighting should be “banned” in junior hockey. By “banned”, I assume they mean that the “powers to be” should actually take the rules against fighting seriously with serious consequences such as not allowing participants in fights to continue to play.

However, junior hockey is the training ground for the NHL where players learn the skills necessary to play in the big league and fighting is an “essential” part of the NHL. Hockey players of all ages are always going to aspire to be like their NHL heroes. If you “ban” fighting at the lower levels players will still aspire to the day they can make it into the NHL and fight like real hockey players.

It has to start at the top in the NHL. As long as hockey players aspire to be like their heroes there will always be fighting at all levels until it is no longer acceptable at the highest level. Players who insist on continuing to participate in thuggery should no longer be allowed to play in the NHL, forever.

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