FanDuel - WFBC

December 06, 2011

The Physical Toll of Being a Goon: The New York Times has published a three-part series on the life of late hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard, who died earlier this year at age 28 of a drug and alcohol overdose. Part 1: A Boy Learns to Brawl. Part 2: Blood on the Ice. Part 3: A Brain 'Going Bad' (via MetaFilter).

posted by rcade to hockey at 12:21 PM - 30 comments

This is an excellent series which I've been reading for the last few days. I don't recall if it is mentioned in the article, but no surprise the recent news that Boogard's brain shows advanced Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

It is really worth reading the short journal or mini-biography Boogard wrote shortly before his death. The Times has a eccentrically-formatted facsimile of it as well as a transcription (click the "text" tab). It is such a vivid account of growing up on the Prairies in youth hockey culture - it is rare to see such an unlaundered, unedited, so intensely naive account of that way of life. I found myself completely drawn into it - it's comparable to another Canadian classic of working-class memoirs: Roger Caron's Go-Boy.

The facsimile is perhaps a sad window into disordered thinking.

Anyway, Boogard had a lot of fights in Junior and took a lot of shots to the head before he learned how to really use his size. With his limited ice time I wonder if he is the key case of CTE being caused by hockey fights versus the chronic head-smacked-into-boards scenario. It seems in the NFL that it is the routine smacking of heads which may be causing the problem as much as the big impact concussions. I guess what I am saying is, the means by which CTE is produced in Hockey is not yet understood. Boogard's fate suggests fighting, but Rick Rypien's fate - a fast skater who could really play, got significant ice time all through junior, and delivered a lot of hits along the boards as well as fought a fair bit - suggests it is not necessarily that simple.

posted by rumple at 12:39 PM on December 06

That is a very sad story and pretty damning for professional hockey if you ask me. While the NFL is at least making an effort to protect players, even when the new protective rules change the way some of the best players have to play the game, and at the risk of eliminating part of the actual game violence fans seem to enjoy ( those full speed head to head collisions), hockey won't even protect players by eliminating fighting, which in reality isn't part of the game, and happens typically away from the play. The fact that teams actually hire players for the sole purpose of beating up and intimidating other players outside the so called rules borders on criminal.

I like hockey and watch enough to realize tempers will always flare in the heat of the battle, especially considering the speed and nature of the game but the same holds true for football. Considering the outrage toward and punishment of Ndamukong Suh of the Lions, for actions after a play that would have been cheered in hockey with a standing ovation, it might be time for Hockey to evolve a little. Maybe the league should put a stop to fighting which would actually open up roster space for players who can actually play.

posted by Atheist at 01:47 PM on December 06

Considering the outrage toward and punishment of Ndamukong Suh of the Lions, for actions after a play that would have been cheered in hockey with a standing ovation ...

No one in hockey would cheer a prone skater being kicked in the arm during a stoppage in play.

The NHL is at an earlier stage in the brain crisis than the NFL, which also disregarded the evidence until the number of ex-players with brain ailments reached critical mass. Most hockey fans would dispute your notion that fighting isn't a part of the game. It's viewed as the main reason star players don't get their bell rung all the time.

But the amount of hardship Boogard endured in a life of just 28 years is a sad indictment of the sport's celebration of and reliance on enforcers.

posted by rcade at 02:13 PM on December 06

rcade - Fighting has always had a place in hockey and has been tolerated but it is not part of the game in the sense checking is. The reason it is tolerated is none other than it is part of the fan appeal. Fans like to watch fights mixed with their hockey. Maybe the star players should rely on referees to ensure they don't get their bells rung as opposed to goon enforcers.

Don't get me wrong, if hockeys want to remain a hybrid between ice hockey and MMA I am fine with it. It just seems hypocritical to acknowledge the need to protect NFL players from head trauma and allow hockey to continue along the path of encouraging bare knuckle brawling under the guise of "it's part of the sport" . I find the fighting aspect of hockey silly considering the typical enforcer is a lousy player and just there for fighting. It is sort of like hiring Mike Tyson to beat the shit out of players on a football team. If hockey just ensured the players got suspended or ejected for fighting as they do in other sports, your star players wouldn't have to be worried about being put in a coma by a hired goon.

Fighting in hockey is just like crashes in auto racing, fans say it is just an unavoidable part of the sport, then secretly wish to see them and thoroughly enjoy the spectacle when they happen. Nobody can convince me that hockey want to stop fights. The NHL fears stopping fighting will hurt attendance and loose fans. There really is no other reason it is tolerated and actually encouraged to the extent it is. The fact that teams hire fighters is proof they don't want fighting to end.

posted by Atheist at 02:58 PM on December 06

rcade - Fighting has always had a place in hockey and has been tolerated but it is not part of the game in the sense checking is. The reason it is tolerated is none other than it is part of the fan appeal.

After reading the part of the series from yesterday's paper, I think you're oversimplifying. Certain types of fighting are tolerated under certain circumstances. The reason? Referee eyes can't be everywhere all the time, and in a fast-moving contact sport, a sneaky cheap shot away from the refs is a big temptation with possibly severe consequences and little chance of official punishment. It's the unofficial punishment that keeps it in check, and it happens in the form of tolerated fighting. Fighting may very well be the reason why many fans watch hockey, but that's not why it's tolerated.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:10 PM on December 06

Maybe the star players should rely on referees to ensure they don't get their bells rung as opposed to goon enforcers.

Or, maybe they fight their own battles.

posted by grum@work at 03:33 PM on December 06

I just printed the first two days and have today's paper. From today's paper it seems like he would have been dead at some point before he retired ... which likely would only have been 30 or 31.

posted by jjzucal at 04:29 PM on December 06

Referee's eyes can't be everywhere? In this day and age of reply etc. Ref eyes can be everywhere and in slow motion. Besides, it is one thing to miss a cheap shot but another to stand there while players duke it out. If they can stop it in football they can stop it (if they wanted to ) in hockey. They don't want to and everybody knows that. Don't get me wrong please, I am not saying they should. Fights sell tickets, the fans want to see them, and the league is compliant and always has been. Lets just not delude ourselves in thinking you have to have fights to have hockey. The Olympics and other leagues prove differently. The main reason there is so much fighting in the NHL is because the league not only wants it, but basically sanctions it.

Grum@work - it would certainly be much easier to fight their own battles if they had to fight against other hockey players. Unfortunately they typically have to fight against professional fighters dressed up in hockey uniforms. The hockey goon is a guy who can't play professional level hockey, he is on the ice because of his fighting skills not his hockey skills. Is it even possible that good players might be able to protect themselves better if they didn't have to do it against a bunch of paid thugs on skates, and only had to deal with other skilled hockey players?

posted by Atheist at 04:42 PM on December 06

If hockey just ensured the players got suspended or ejected for fighting as they do in other sports, your star players wouldn't have to be worried about being put in a coma by a hired goon.

Star players don't get injured in fights with goons. Star players get injured when an opposing player, goon or otherwise, takes a cheap shot at them. This may be done when the referee isn't looking. It may be done under the referees nose, but the offending player doesn't really give a shit about penalty minutes or even suspension time (see Tootoo, Jordin). One of the few disencentives to ending a skill player's season (see Crosby) or career (see Savard) is getting the shit kicked out of you by an enforcer.

Atheist--The whole issue of fighting in hockey is complex, and I think you have very little understanding of it. Personally, I'm not a fan of the fight; I like to see the skilled players do their thing. I do appreciate the fact that has provided a level of self-policing to the game.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:09 PM on December 06

tahoemoj - I think I have a better understanding than you think, and I do agree it is a complex issue, but the complexity lies with the fact it is tolerated and in a sense traditional. There would be no fighting if the league did not tolerate it and in some cases almost encourage it. As for the self policing aspect, that is a ridiculous argument as not even MMA is self policing. They don't try to self police offside, tripping or a two line pass and those rarely injure anybody. The notion of self policing in the very rough, high speed, emotionally charged and competitive atmosphere is as ludicrous as allowing NFL players to self police head to head collisions, or citizens to self police driving under the influence. It is vigilantism at best. If it is self policing it is only in the sense that skill players are somewhat protected by goons, and goons fight other goons which isn't hockey at all but merely an intermission of fighting for the fans in between hockey.

The facts are the penalties for fighting in the NHL are almost so minor they are essentially non existent. There is beginning to be a lot of evidence it is severely damaging to the players, and the real reason it is tolerated is the fans want it and therefore the league is afraid to eliminate it from play. That is why it is a complex issue. It has nothing to do with the game of hockey other than it is just become such a big part of it. I wonder if this same conversation would be happening regarding the concussive hits in football. At least they are part of the game but even the NFL realizes the need to eliminate them and change the way the game has to be played, regardless of how much the fans want to see the brutal hits.

This is an issue I care little about but after reading the article, and the players transcripts I was struck by what Boogaard had written about his own hockey experiences. Since when do we allow vigilante justice in sports or allow rule breaking offenders to have the shit beat out of them. How does it punish a player for taking a cheap shot if the two team goons go at it to the delight of the fans? Boogaard was a player who only made it to the NHL by fighting, and was encouraged to do so at every step in his development. The guy trained at boxing, to play hockey.

I understand exactly why fighting occurs, why it is tolerated, and why the penalties are minor. Saying it is a complex issue is like a tobacco company saying not enough research has been done on smoking to draw conclusions. It is a diversionary tactic to shift the attention from the real reason, and that is money.

I wonder how the NFL would treat a team who hired a goon to take Aaron Rogers out of action. Would it be worth suspending a worthless player or paying a fine to ensure Rogers wouldn't be able to compete against you a couple of times a year? What a cycle to encourage. Retribution

I say the real disincentive for taking out a star player with a cheap shot would be the loss of your income, being banned from hockey, and penalties to the team.

posted by Atheist at 06:19 PM on December 06

Self-policing happens in hockey and that is a fact. Refs don't catch everything. When Wayne Gretzky was traded from the Oilers to the Kings, he demanded that his enforcer, Marty McSorley, go with him in the trade. McSorley protected Gretzky for years.

You can't trust the refs to catch everything. In last season's Stanley Cup final during one of the games Brad Marchand kept slashing Henrik Sedin in the leg as they lined up for a faceoff. It was clearly a penalty but nothing was called. Vancouver doesn't have a goon and Marchand got away with it. You can bet he'll be up to antics like that again against Vancouver since there are no consequences for doing it.

It's even more of an issue at the minor levels as there are fewer refs and often what refs are there are homers. I was playing a game in Hamilton Ohio 12 years ago when one of my teammates got attacked by two players at once, unprovoked. The ref ignored it so I jumped in and fought both of them. The teammate of mine they went after was the gentlest guy on the team so I felt the need to stick up for him.

posted by insomnyuk at 06:47 PM on December 06

I think Atheist's argument is a bit clumsy, but the evidence is starting to speak for itself. Maybe there isn't a place for straight up one-on-one fist-fighting anymore, cheap-shots or not. The culture of the game may have to change to accommodate it.

Fighting is a part of hockey, but not because of the appeal of it to fans (correction - some of the violence is because of a degree of fan appeal - the cartoonish violence of the Flyers in the 70s has had a long lasting effect on what people think fighting in hockey is and always has been). However, there was fighting long before there were millions of dollars at stake. There is violence inherent in the sport - the speed and confinement are crucial ingredients. Add a dash of danger and there is fighting in hockey for the same reasons there is fighting on pit row of a NASCAR race.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:00 PM on December 06

I was playing a game in Hamilton Ohio 12 years ago when one of my teammates got attacked by two players at once, unprovoked

I played in that same open-ended shithole in Hamilton for years between '79 and '89. The games between us Cincinnati boys and the boys from Hamiltucky (as we lovingly called it) always got close to out of hand. Good times.

They don't try to self police offside, tripping or a two line pass and because those rarely injure anybody.

There is beginning to be a lot of evidence it is severely damaging to the players, and the real reason it is tolerated is the fans want it and therefore the league is afraid to eliminate it from play.

I'd say one reason, albeit a major one, is the fact that some fans want it. As evidence of the danger to the players emerges, I wholeheartedly agree that it is time to think about eliminating it. At a certain point, the risk to enforcers outweighs the benefit to the skill players of having them there. We may very well have reached that point. As I said before, I'm not a fan of the fights. I've always viewed them as a sort of necessary evil.

Saying it is a complex issue is like a tobacco company saying not enough research has been done on smoking to draw conclusions.

Not even a little bit. One is an outright fabrication, the other is an acknowledgement of a complex situation. Kind of an inflammatory and hyperbolic statement, if you ask me.

I think Atheist's argument is a bit clumsy, but the evidence is starting to speak for itself.

Agreed and agreed. My problem was more with the characterization of fighting as nothing more than spectacle and bloodsport than with the conclusion that it is time to eliminate it.

posted by tahoemoj at 07:32 PM on December 06

Longtime lurker here and appreciate the site. Really just a question in regards to this topic and I guess a little late, but anybody seen Youngblood?

posted by FilMcRevis at 10:39 AM on December 07

Go back to Thunder Bay rookie.

posted by yerfatma at 11:18 AM on December 07

Let's go pretty boy

posted by FilMcRevis at 11:27 AM on December 07

Is it tea time with Miss McGill?

posted by tahoemoj at 01:48 PM on December 07

My only argument is that the league has all the power to if not completely eliminate the fighting, eliminate it most of it. The reason they don't is obvious. To say skill players need protection is true, but the reason is that the rules and the officials don't protect them. NFL football is just as prone to tempers getting out of control. I again raise the Ndomukong Suh incident. Sure players loose control, sure fights can occur but when the league makes it clear that it won't be tolerated, it isn't. Do the same in hockey and the roster will only have players with offensive and or defensive skills. The need for "enforcers" will be eliminated. The league and the officials should be the enforcers not hired goons. The only difference with a dirty player in the NFL and a dirty player in the NHL is this. A guy like Suh is playing in the NFL because he is a good player and his temper and dirty play are just a problem for the league, his team and the officials to deal with. In the NHL there are guys who are there solely for their tempers, fighting ability and dirty play.

If you like the fact the there is a lot of fights that break out in hockey games (or vis a versa) and those fights should be tolerated, just say so. There is nothing wrong with liking to watch men fight. I like MMA and boxing. To claim it can't be stopped or that it is necessary for hockey is just a cop out. I am not trying to convince anybody that fighting is bad. How can anybody argue that the league hasn't created a culture that includes goons brawling as part of the spectacle of professional hockey? I like a good hockey fight as much as the next guy. If hockey wants to continue to allow fighting shouldn't the fights themselves be subject to some kind of rules for the protection of the participants just like boxing, wrestling and MMA. Even professional fighting recognizes that some stuff is just unacceptable and takes steps to prevent it.

Now read more about the life of a hockey goon and decide, is this necessary for the survival of professional hockey, is it part of the attraction, and do you really believe it could exist without the league's silent endorsement?

The bigger issue is a lot of sports are dangerous, and can cause permanent injury and even death. Should athletes have the right to choose to play these sports with full knowledge of the dangers, and accept the risks with the rewards, or should leagues take steps to protect them in the workplace as much as possible? It a question the sports world is dealing with just like the PED issue.

I am a callous fan if the truth be known. Men have played these sports willingly and for free. A lot of professions have severe health and safety hazards as long as the participants are making informed decisions and feel the risk is worth the reward I would be hesitant to change it. Maybe hockey players themselves should lobby for the removal tolerated fighting from the game in their next CBA. Unfortunately the NHL fan base is not what the NFL's is and therefore the removal of such a fan favorite part of the league is quite a bit scarier for them.

BTW the term necessary evil is an oxy-moron. Two simple rules could eliminate the goon fights. Make a rule against the intentional attempt to injure another player, and make a rule that makes it an automatic expulsion from the league for dropping gloves and fighting.

posted by Atheist at 02:03 PM on December 07

If you like the fact the there is a lot of fights that break out in hockey games (or vis a versa) and those fights should be tolerated, just say so. There is nothing wrong with liking to watch men fight.

Again, I'm not a fan of the fights. I just recognize why fighting became ingrained in the fabric of the game. I still don't think your position recognizes it.

Now read more about the life of a hockey goon and decide, is this necessary for the survival of professional hockey, is it part of the attraction, and do you really believe it could exist without the league's silent endorsement?

I read it, and I have stated before that I agree that it is time for fighting to go. The danger has been determined to outweigh the value. My objection to your consistent position is that it doesn't recognize that value at all. Its time has come and gone, but it was never just about spectacle or putting asses in seats.

BTW the term necessary evil is an oxy-moron.

More of a colloquialism, really. But I get what you're saying.


Make a rule against the intentional attempt to injure another player

It's been done. The problem is in trying to determine another human being's intent. When a big guy like Chara hits a small guy like Pacioretty, do we know he intended to hurt him? Todd Bertuzzi intended to cheap shot Steve Moore, but did he intend to hurt him or break his neck? And an automatic expulsion from the league for fighting? That would make the NHL the only professional sports league in America where a fight results in banishment.

The reason there is fighting in hockey is more than an attempt to draw fans. A jaded observer can persuasively argue, however, that the reason fighting continues is the fact that it provides a draw to a fan base beyond those who really love the game. I get that. But hockey fights did not come about because an owner or GM decided that it might increase attendance. There is new science and insight available that shows a real danger to players involved in fights. Great. Based on that, get rid of it, but understand the reluctance of both players and fans alike to abolish something woven into the very fabric of the game.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:25 PM on December 07

tahoemoj - I do understand your point but please explain what is the reluctance now. If you are trying to say its woven into the fabric of the game, to me that is a euphemism for it has gone on for a very long time in hockey. I suppose I can accept that. Just as slavery was woven into the fabric of southern life, and helmet to helmet collisions were woven into the fabric of football.

I also am not willing to say that the current enforcer / fighting situation was a directive from the league to put fans in the stands but at some point the league must have taken a position and informed their officials about some policy to allow a fight to occur, or not stop it immediately etc because they realized just how much fans wanted to see it. To say they are not sanctioning it on some level seems absurd, even if that endorsement is just by ignoring or allowing it to happen with such minimal penalties.

I am a hockey fan and find NHL hockey to be one of the best in person sporting events to attend. I understand the game and fighting has always been a part of professional hockey, but that said it really has nothing to do with the game itself, although a lot to do with the entertainment aspect of attending a game. So much so, the league will fight long and hard against any effort to eliminate it. If I am wrong, since there is a tremendous amount of medical evidence available now, the NHL will in the very near future begin to develop a policy to better protect the players as the NFL has. My feeling though is don't hold your breath. Fighting is not an element of professional hockey that fans want to see removed. They want to see it and pay to see it and therefore the league is afraid to take simple steps to end it. They have enough financial problems without alienating a big part of their fan base.

I am at least enough of a fan of the game to honestly say if there were never another gloves off fight in hockey, I would still enjoy it just as much. I really don't mind the fighting but do feel it is kind of stupid as it relates to fighting especially when if I want to see a fight I can watch professional fighters do it anytime.

posted by Atheist at 05:36 PM on December 07

please explain what is the reluctance now

The players, for starters.

From the cited article:

"A push to ban fighting is unlikely to come from the players. Surveys done by the NHL Players' Association show the majority of the NHL's 740 players want to keep fighting in the game. However, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr did say he thinks the findings concerning Boogaard need to be taken seriously."

GM's seem to agree:

"Interviews with NHL general managers and governors show they feel such fights are gradually disappearing from the game because those players are getting crowded off NHL rosters by more skilled players. They insist this means an outright ban is not necessary."

So ultimately the resistance to a fighting ban is coming from owners, management, fans, and players. Maybe as the knowledge spreads about the dangers of fighting, more and more will take note and push to get rid of it, but donlt expect it to happen overnight.

posted by tahoemoj at 07:15 PM on December 07

Atheist:

My only argument is that the league has all the power to if not completely eliminate the fighting, eliminate it most of it.

And what does the league do to perform the function that fighting serves? Not the one that you claim, of slaking fans' bloodthirst and getting asses in seats, but the enforcement function that helps to control cheapshotting.

Please don't say instant replay. What, are they supposed to stop the game every minute to watch over the last minute in slow motion to see if something happened?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:33 AM on December 08

LBB - I fully understand the difference between hockey and for example football and agree with your point. Football stops after each play and referees have the ability to address cheap shots pretty much right when they happen. Of course it would not be practical for hockey to do that. In hockey they blow a whistle and let the play continue then deal with the penalties. I never would suggest anything different. We are not talking about procedure. I am talking about stopped play, while referees and players stand around and watch corporal punishment handed out by some goon to the delight of the screaming fans.

All I was suggesting is that if the league took a very tough view against cheap shots and fighting it would stop. Even when a player gets away with it during a game, if they are punished when it shows up on film, you cannot convince me it would not go away. Even athletes want to keep their jobs.

There really is no disagreement from me. You either turn the other cheek as you have now and the Boogaards keep happening or you stop it. Who should care, they sign up for it.

Tahoemoj - every one of the quotes you cited comes from a vested and subjective source. I totally agree with you the players, owners, GM and fans are resistant to the idea. Each with their own motives but in the end as long and the fans are resistant all the parties with a financial stake with be also. Now if you could say medical professionals or other serious studies find the injuries will actually increase if fighting is removed from the game. That might be relevant. Maybe the NFL should let Marvin Harrison, or Ndamukong Suh self police themselves.

I like to see the biggest steroid jacked up monsters running full speed into head on NFL collisions., I want an 18 game season, and as a fan I don't want to hear about someones Parkinsons Syndrome after they retire from making millions, but unfortunately there are way too many like me.

posted by Atheist at 10:51 AM on December 08

Well, if the opinions of the players, GM's, owners, and fans are discounted for bias, then who's opinion does the NHL look to for guidance? The AMA? SpoFi?

I hear that chicobangs guy is pretty sharp

posted by tahoemoj at 01:03 PM on December 08

If they care about the long term health and safety of their players the, AMA or the unbiased results of a serious study into the effects suffered by the so called fights would be a start, rather than the biased sources you name or the fans.

FWIW - I might suggest to the NHL that if they want to continue with fighting as an acceptable part of the game, the minimum thing they should do is impose some basic rules or protocols for the teams to follow. I get that hockey is dangerous and can injure players, but hockey injuries like missing teeth, limb injuries, lacerations, etc. are typically the kinds of injuries relevant to playing, and are part of the actual game. Fighting in hockey is different and opens up blunt force trauma and concussion issues similar to football, MMA and boxing. At the very least, don't you think combatants in a hockey brawl, should be required to be examined by a doctor as a boxer would be and have to be cleared for further play, or required to sit out. Does anybody oversee the health of a guy like Boogaard who is continually subjected head trauma almost night after night? Doesn't the league have some responsibility to ensure he takes some precautions? Even a boxer is restricted in regards to how soon he can fight after a KO or concussion after examination by a doctor in order to get cleared to fight again in a sanctioned bout. We are not even talking about a career of boxing that might include 30 pro fights. By Boogaards writing his numbers totaled in the hundreds. Did he ever get a neurological exam by the team doctor?

Licensed professional fighters maybe fight a couple of times a year at most. Hockey enforcers can fight every night almost with no oversight. Once a guy has been hit too many times he is not exactly the best at making this decision. Self policing didn't do much for Boogaard. He may have paid with his life for saving someones ribs, knee or ankle? Obviously the league views guys in this role as expendable as long as the cash cow of the Crosby's and Gretzky's are protected by their bodyguards and the fans can watch fights.

posted by Atheist at 05:49 PM on December 08

Atheist:

That wasn't actually my point (that you have fewer stoppages of play in hockey). In football, the referees don't use the stoppage of play to review film and make sure that there weren't any cheap shots; they call what they saw with Eyeball Mark I, and only that.

I am talking about stopped play, while referees and players stand around and watch corporal punishment handed out by some goon to the delight of the screaming fans.

The argument for some limited tolerance of fighting in hockey has nothing to do with stopped play.

All I was suggesting is that if the league took a very tough view against cheap shots and fighting it would stop.

No, it wouldn't. Oh, the fighting might stop -- it happens right there in front of God, the cameras, the officials and everybody, so there's no way of ducking responsibility. But what good does it do to "[take] a very tough view" about cheap shots? That's like sending one person to proctor an exam room of 200 students and telling them all, "Now, we take a very tough view on cheating!" The toughness of your view is a feeble deterrent if you don't have any practical means of calling the guilty to account for the majority of the offenses -- and in the case of cheap shots in hockey, you don't.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:04 PM on December 08

All I have read in this thread are reasons and excuses as to why the NHL cannot enforce rules to protect their own players from cheating and essentially no holes barred brawling. Or, why it is just better for everybody to allow bare fisted fighting as a method of ensuring players don't play dirty. Pretty lame and transparent. Hockey can essentially take effective steps from stopping players from slashing, tripping, two line passing, etc, but just can't seem to prevent guys from squaring off, dropping gloves and throwing punches for a minute at center ice. To claim the fights are retribution for cheap shots is only partly true, most of the time the fights are retribution for other fights or merely just for the intimidation factor.

Is any body suggesting that at the very least a hockey goon should not be required to pass some sort of medical exam and be cleared by a doctor in order to be allowed to fight again after suffering head blows? To me it is the same as if the NFL said, despite all the head trauma evidence, it's football, go out there and knock yourself out. Seems to be a double standard when it comes to protecting players. Why is player safety such a big issue in the NFL and not in the NHL? Whether they try to stop the fighting or just manage it a little for player safety isn't the issue. The fact they ignore it totally speaks volumes and what could the reason possibly be? Real ice hockey fans know the game itself is good enough to survive without allowing fights.

posted by Atheist at 03:48 PM on December 09

Wow, Atheist. Hockey play doesn't cause blunt force trauma and concussions without fighting? Who knew? And the two-line pass has been legal since the lockout. Have you watched hockey in the last decade?

It's very frustrating to discuss hockey's problems with people who don't actually watch hockey regularly.

posted by swerve at 02:45 PM on December 10

Fighting in hockey is different and opens up blunt force trauma and concussion issues similar to football ...

Tell that to Kris Draper and Eric Lindros. Hockey players can do plenty of damage to an opponent without fighting.

All I have read in this thread are reasons and excuses as to why the NHL cannot enforce rules to protect their own players from cheating and essentially no holes barred brawling.

What I see in this thread is a lot of people challenging your statements about hockey. You keep saying things about the sport that are off the mark, such as the idea that it's currently "no holes barred brawling." Hockey fights have accepted rules and the players take them seriously. The officials have a specific point at which they step in. It's hardly anything goes.

Given what Boogard experienced, I could see a day coming when the NHL joins all the other leagues that ban fighting. It'll have a big impact on how the game is played, and could lead to more players getting leveled during play. But CTE is a big deal.

posted by rcade at 03:20 PM on December 10

All I have read in this thread are reasons and excuses as to why the NHL cannot enforce rules to protect their own players from cheating and essentially no holes barred brawling.

No, you're hearing people explain the forces of cause and effect. You've made statements about why something happens, and I think they're simplistic, that's all.

I don't think anybody here is in favor of fighting per se, or that anybody finds CTE less than completely appalling. I think if you want to find a solution for CTE, you do have to look beyond the fighting. But it's not a bad place to start. I just think that if you want to stop it, you have to look at why it exists and address those issues. It is more than just some Roman arena bloodthirst that makes it happen. If you want to stop it, you have to look at all the reasons, and take a look at the college and non-NFL leagues to figure out how they manage it.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:21 PM on December 10

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