Saturday, January 03, 2009

Don Sanderson's death: A swirl of thoughts

Far be it to expect people to stay from the fighting-in-hockey rubric on the day Don Sanderson died.

That is how the media works, for good or ill. No doubt you have your thoughts, so if you are so inclined, read the symposium and leave a comment.

Michael Den Tandt, Sun Media, "Hockey fights have to stop": "Proponents of fighting in hockey will argue that such accidents are exceedingly rare. They'll say that most hockey fights end with nary a bloody nose on either side. They'll repeat, as they always do, that fighting is an integral part of the game, without which it would be somehow less Canadian.


"Can anyone who has gotten a taste of World Juniors action in Ottawa in recent days doubt that hockey is better off without the incessant scuffles and mock battles that now impede the Canadian game, at virtually every level?

"Elite hockey players are just that. They're not trained fighters. Most have no idea how to throw a punch."

Ryan Hollweg, Toronto Maple Leafs forward, via "It's part of the game and things like that happen sometimes. You gotta try not to think about it and go about your business."

Ken Campbell, The Hockey News, "Sanderson's death must re-open fight debate": "... if the people who run this game are unwilling or feel they are unable to do something about this blight on a great game, then perhaps it might be time for those who make the laws to do it for them."

Jamal Mayers, Leafs forward, via "... it's a terrible story. It should never come to that. To think that it happened in somewhat of a recreational game makes it even tougher on the families and my heart goes out to everyone involved."

Roy MacGregor, The Globe & Mail: "Hockey discipline needs a fighting chance": "Accident or non-accident is not the debate here, but what can, and must, be done to remove as much violence from the game as would still allow hockey to be a collision sport requiring tenacity from its players.

"It seems simply obvious that heads require as much protection as possible in the game. This would include simply doing up the chin straps supplied with each helmet. (Though how not doing it up became a hockey "fashion" is as unfathomable, as is how doffing one's helmet before fighting became part of hockey chivalry.)"

Patrick, commenter at the Toronto Star: "Fighting is in NHL hockey because THE PLAYERS want it in. Until the 700 or so players in the nhlpa put up a protest fighting will never leave the NHL game.

Last, but not least, here's a take from someone who knew the young man.


Greg said...

We've had one paralysis in the NFL, that I can remember off hand — Mike Utley.

We've had one death in NASCAR, that I can remember off hand — Dale Earnhardt.

Do we ban hitting in the NFL and driving in NASCAR?

Duane Rollins said...

Fighting is already illegal in hockey. You get a penalty for it. Increasing the penalty isn't banning it. It's just increasing the penalty.

And football has taken steps to make it safer for its players by banning hits to the head. NASCAR has taken steps to keep the speed of the cars in check in an effort to make it safer for its drivers. Besides, fighting isn't an inherent part of the actual game of hockey. Whereas you can't race a car without driving it and the tackle is what makes tackle football, you can still play hockey with an increased penalty for fighting.

What most people that oppose fighting have always called for is the NHL to adopt the same rule as 98% of the hockey world - a game misconduct for fighting. That's the rules that exist at pretty much ever level of minor and amateur hockey in Canada.

I grew up in the heartland of hockey. I've played it my whole life. As a teenager I probably watched 100 NHL games a year, while going to another 50 OHL games, playing in about 40, refereeing another 30 or so hanging out at the local rink just chillin' for another 25 minor hockey games. I get the sport. And, I will tell you with a straight face and a Tim Hortons coffee in my hand that it absolutely, without a doubt does not need fighting.

It's a far better game than that.

Anonymous said...

Start with a 5-game suspension for fighting, then make it a year if that doesn't work. I've enjoyed watching fights, but as a coach and parent, I have absolutely no good explanation to kids for it. Revenge and hatred has absolutely NO function in any sport. It only ever distracts attention from what is already a difficult game to play.