“Forget about the notion of fighting as part of hockey’s in trinsic nature. Forget about fighting acting as a safety valve for the athletes,” protests the New York Post’s Larry Brooks. As long we don’t have to forget about Hockey Fights.com, I’m willing to consider Brooks’ charge that “watching heavyweight fights such as the one in Tampa on Wednesday between the Rangers’ Colton Orr and Lightning’s David Koci has become the equivalent to viewing the aftermath of automobile accidents on the Interstate.”
Orr and Koci packed heavyweight-sized wallops in their punches on Wednesday. The crowd went berserk, probably much like the Romans who gloried in gladiators fighting to the death in the arena. As the players went to the penalty box, the fight was replayed on the scoreboard video screen. The spectators seemed to enjoy it even more the second time. It all had a demeaning quality to it.
Oh, and by the way, now comes the news that Koci suffered a broken hand in the fight, which is as benign an injury as either player might have suffered in the lengthy exchange of blows to the head.
Think about this for a second. As the NHL community debates outlawing hits to the head, it doesn’t give a second thought to allowing fights in which athletes punch one another in the head. Here’s a memo to NHL officials: Fighters are susceptible to concussions, too.
Penalizing all checks to the head is a complex issue. Outlawing all punches to the head should not be. It’s time for the NHL to outlaw fighting; time for the NHL to act before injuries far more serious than the broken hand suffered by Koci become commonplace.