The 2013-14 NHL season is mere days old and already the hot topic is fighting. At a time when discussions on sports networks might logically be focused on how the first taste of the new hybrid icing rule is playing out attention is on the incident in the Montreal Canadiens home opener in which Habs player George Parros received a concussion.
Early in the third period of Tuesday’s game Parros and Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Colton Orr had a scrap. According to CBC it was the eighth or ninth time these two have squared-off during their careers, and it was the second time in the game. In an attempt to land a punch, Parros lost his balance and hit the ice chin first – a classic face-plant – resulting in the concussion. What needs to be pointed out is that immediately Orr stopped, backed off and, realizing the situation was serious, called for medical assistance.
There may well be many reasons to banish fighting from hockey, but this incident isn’t one of them.
There may well be many reasons to banish fighting from hockey, but this incident isn’t one of them. In fact you could argue that when two “designated fighters” pair off some unwritten rules of the trade are in effect. If this had been a mismatch between a small fleet forward and a burly defender that’s a whole different situation. Had Parros’ concussion been the result of an Orr haymaker that too would be different. But Parros could conceivably have lost his balance in a scramble for a loose puck and still suffered the concussion. It was more accident than fight related.
I suggest the NHL get rid of the penalty called “fighting” … because by having a fighting penalty you recognize that it is part of the game, just like tripping or holding.
I’m pleased that George is out of hospital and wish him a speedy recovery, but I think the league needs to look elsewhere to find a reason to bar fighting. In that vein may I suggest the NHL get rid of the penalty called “fighting” and replace it with “personal foul” or “unnecessary roughness” because by having a fighting penalty you recognize that it is part of the game, just like tripping or holding. Those infractions are illegal, but are part of the game, hence the penalties name for them.