Hey hockey fans don’t worry, I didn’t forget about you. Everyone I talk to is excited to have hockey back, and I don’t blame them. The Chicago Blackhawks have started out on fire winning 10 out of their first 13 games, as they are still the only undefeated team in regulation left in the NHL. The New Jersey Devils have also gotten off to a nice start this season as they head up the Eastern Conference. And as usual, My Islanders are hanging out in the bottom of the barrel(there’s always next year). On a serious note, Islanders fans may have something to get excited about. They will be moving to Brooklyn after the 2014-2015 season. This move should give the New York franchise a badly needed fresh start. The Nets of the NBA can tell them how nice it is to call Brooklyn home. Personally, I haven’t been to The Barclays Center, but everyone can’t get over the awesome atmosphere inside the arena. This move should also help attract talented free agents. Another headline early on in the season is the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings getting off to an extremely slow start. They have played 8 of their first 11 games on the road, so they shouldn’t be as worried as their fans are.
The story grabbing all the headlines so far in the NHL is the same issue plaguing the NFL. Of course I am talking about player safety. Hockey like football is a very physical sport, however hockey is not a violent sport by nature. Some of you, if you could see me, would probably be looking at me like I have 4 heads. Hear me out now. Fighting in hockey is a tradition. It is as much a part of the game as line changes or shoot outs. Let me be the first to say that I would stop watching hockey entirely if they banned fighting. Fighting in hockey serves a purpose. It’s not just there for the sheer entertainment of the fans(even though it is a huge part of the attraction for casual hockey fans). See, it’s kind of like a retaliation pitch in baseball. When a baseball player shows up an opposing team or player, they get thrown at in their next at bat. When done respectfully and not done out of anger, it accomplishes something important. It’s the same in hockey. This tactic is used when an opposing player does something uncalled for or out of line(in layman’s terms: when you do something dumb you get punched). This solves problems quickly, and it can be part of a teams strategy. Fighters and instigators also have their own place on NHL rosters. A fighting ban would certainly put some NHL players out of work. These guys simply make a living playing that role. It is the same as a defender or rebounder in the NBA who lacks offensive skills. A prime example is Dennis Rodman. He played to his strengths and filled an important role for his team. There are guys just like that in the NHL. Their only role is to rough people up, retaliate, or instigate. To take fighting out of hockey would be like taking charges out of basketball, it would change the culture of the sport.
When NHL players were asked about this issue, 97% of them said they’re against banning fighting. That is an astonishingly high number! I also guarantee you that if you polled hockey fans, at least 95% of them would want to keep fighting in hockey as well. I understand that player safety is a real issue that every sport should take seriously, but this is not the right issue to take a stand.
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