Lately there has been, it seems like, an NHL player getting a concussion every night. The NHL has no idea what to do and need to figure out a way to improve player safety. In my opinion, these concussions are a result of players not being able to police themselves on the ice. For the longest time, fighting was a huge part of hockey. After the lockout in 2004, the NHL made attempts to revolutionize the game, making it much faster, high paced, and incorporate more scoring. In doing so, the NHL has nearly taken fighting out of the game. Teams stack their rosters with scorers and many teams do not even carry one enforcer on their roster.
Now here is where I will try to make some sense of all of this. With the art of fighting nearly disappearing, players are skating around looking for big hits wherever they can find them because, hey, you aren’t going to have the other teams 6 foot 5 250 pound enforcer pounding your face in every other shift you have. There are no consequences for these players making these big hits. Pre lock-out, if you made a run at someone, you better believe you would have 3 or 4 guys coming after you. Now, with strict instigating rules and suspensions being handed out like candy, the players are not being allowed the opportunity to police themselves.
The NHL needs to take a step back and reevaluate what they are trying to accomplish. There are consequences for having a high paced, finesse game rather than an old school type of game. Fighting will always be part of the game, and players will always fight at their own risk. Embracing the art of fighting rather than trying to push it away will make some of these players think twice before they go for a center ice hit or throw an elbow to someones head. There are three things in hockey that get the fans out of the seats; goals, fights and beer. As Coach Herman Boone once said, ” Let the boy’s play”.