Now, on to the rebuttal for those of you who want fighting out of the game. For those who want it to be a game misconduct instead of five minutes. For those who say it will take a death in order for the game to change it's rules. I've read several times already how the argument that it's "a part of the game" isn't good enough. I ask you, why not? Damien Cox, who I just can't stop reading because I can't believe what he writes, tweeted today, "Also once 'part of the game': the rover, no helmets, stick fights, wooden sticks, unmasked goalies and tube skates. Sports evolve." I read "sports evolve" and couldn't believe that I agreed with him on something! But what I want to know is, where do you think the sport evolves to when the players can't defend themselves or their teammates? There's no fighting in football, baseball or basketball and each sports comes with game misconducts or suspensions for fighting. Football players in turn go for each others knees or heads. Sure, they're implementing penalties, but they're not stopping. Baseball, instead of fights, they tend to clear benches and/or throw baseballs at each others heads going 90 mph. Sounds fun. Basketball? Well, basketball fights aren't really fights, so we can skip that one.
My point is this: fighting is a part of the game in hockey because it needs to be there. One player standing up to another can settle a score and allow the game to move on. If players don't have the option to fight, they will instead find other ways to make their presence known. This is when things get dirty resulting in more injuries. Fighting is a choice. It isn't a mandate. George Parros knew the risks when he dropped the gloves (twice) last night. And it wasn't even an act of fighting that caused his injury. He fell. How many times does that happen during a game? Someone gets hit, turns funny, runs into a teammate: these things happen and injuries can occur at any time.
What it really comes down to, even more than the fact that yes, fighting is a part of the game, is that there is a choice here. Guys like George Parros and Colton Orr make a living off of that part of the game. Do you really think they want it gone? Fighting isn't the element that pushes a game out of control. It's the lack of respect amongst some of the players. The fighting can put things into perspective on the ice. Removing fighting from the game will cause a vicious circle. Even if we only go as far as to consider a game misconduct for all fights - allow me to begin: Players begin to get ejected for fighting and they become less common. The people who want fighting out are happy because they have their beloved non-violent game. But what happens when a dirty hit takes place, the player is challenged and doesn't fight? One player gets tossed and the dirty hit is penalized, but not ejected. The next time the two teams meet, someone is going to go after the player who threw the dirty hit. All hell will break loose. There will be a melee, no doubt. To steal a great movie title, there will be blood. Then we're back at square one.
A lot of times, when it comes to a situation like that, the players do a better job of controlling the game than the refs do. There is something to be said for teams defending themselves and players holding each other accountable. That's what fighting in the game is really all about - accountability. And is should always be a part of the game.