DETROIT – With the outcry from a number of general managers wanting to take steps to eliminate fighting in the league, many players in the Detroit Red Wings locker room feel there’s still a place for it.
“I think what they’re trying to do is take out the staged part of the fighting, which you understand in a way, but I think there’s still a place for it,” said Justin Abdelkader, who has 12 fighting majors during the regular season according to hockeyfights.com. “I think it’s still part of the game, part of the history.”
Last week, Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman told TSN.ca’s Darren Dreger that he felt players that fought should be assessed a game misconduct. He later extended that into banning fighting altogether.
“We penalize and suspend players for making contact with the head while checking, in an effort to reduce head injuries, yet we still allow fighting,” Yzerman told Dreger. “We’re stuck in the middle and need to decide what kind of sport we want to be, either anything goes and we accept the consequences, or take the next step and eliminate fighting.”
The outcry to put fighting under the microscope came after Montreal’s George Parros was taken off on a stretcher after slamming face-first into the ice while fighting Toronto’s Coltin Orr on Tuesday.
Parros suffered a concussion.
“Fighting has been a part of the game since Day 1,” Jordin Tootoo said. “It’s about having respect for each other and doing … what’s called changing momentum of a game. It’s a difference maker, but at the same time you’re not going out to want to intentionally hurt the guy.”
Tootoo has had 52 fighting majors over the last seven seasons.
“For me, I play a pretty rambunctious style of hockey that allows other teams to have a hate on me and I got to be able to back it up,” Tootoo said. “I do and I feel comfortable in doing that.”
Drew Miller sees advantages and disadvantages in trying to eliminate fighting from the game.
“You have to respect the guys that do it on a night to night basis,” Drew Miller said. “I think it does create a spark when needed, momentum shifts, but I don’t know where you draw the line where that’s more beneficial than someone’s health.
“It’s a fine line,” Miller continued. “Do you get rid of squaring off or if someone has a cheap shot or do you allow them to go after that. As long as I’ve been playing hockey you’ve seen it and now as a pro you’re a part of it. For me if it was all gone it would be different and weird. But with a transition period maybe it would become normal eventually.”
Jimmy Howard can go with it our without it.
“There’s no fighting in the Olympics, but you still see guys mixing it up,” he said. “The unique situation about the Olympics if you fight you’re sitting out the next game, so that’s a tough decision to make when you’re short-handing your team. That’s probably in the back of guy’s heads and why you don’t see if that much in the Olympics of the World Juniors.”
During Yzerman’s early years in Detroit he had enforcer Bob Probert as a bodyguard.
“I think it’s still important to have,” Mikael Samuelsson said. “I still think it’s a big part of the game that some teams play. I think it’s good some times. It has its purpose.”
Samuelsson believes having an enforcer on the ice helps eliminate players taking cheap shots on each other.
“If they call for suspensions on cheap shots then it’s a different story,” Samuelsson said. “If they don’t do that then yes they need tough guys in the game.”