Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Hockey's fighting tradition sparks a debate on Opening Night

Watching a fight last night on TV between players from LES CANADIENS DE MONTRÉAL and the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS, I joked that CANADA'S national pastime had returned -- Oh, and hockey started back up again, too.
It didn't take long before the seriousness of the NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE'S fighting tradition loomed over other events on the ice.
On Tuesday's Opening Night, Canadiens forward George Parros was scrapping with Leafs tough guy Colton Orr in the third period when the Montréal combatant went to throw a punch, missed, and fell face first onto the ice.
The contact knocked Parros unconscious, and he was eventually stretchered off to be taken to a hospital.
Concussions are a problem in all contact sports. Does hockey's fighting tradition needlessly increase the risks of such injuries? Among the other questions in Canada today is what role does fighting continue to play in hockey.
There is a long tradition of fighting used as a deterrent against hurtful violence perpetrated upon the game's skillful stars. That's why teams employ so-called enforcers -- to maintain, through fighting, protection against the wizards who score goals and draw crowds.
Fighting draws crowds, too, though. So, what can be done, if anything, to remove the risk of serious injury while continuing the tradition of on-ice scraps?
There's bound to be debate on this topic at a rink near you.


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