PETE PAGUAGA — Sports Editor
With the rise of concussions and brain injuries in sports, the question has been raised about fighting in the sport of hockey. Some are calling for fighting to be banned while others argue that fighting is an integral part of the game of hockey.
Last week, during the Pittsburgh Penguins game against the Washington Capitals, known tough guy Arron Asham of the Penguins knocked out a very inexperienced fighter, Jay Beagle of the Capitals. Regardless of whether you agree with the celebration by Asham afterwards, that punch was solid and clean. Asham didn’t cheap shot him; he didn’t catch him off guard.
They were fighting and Asham got the best of him. It’s never fun to see a guy spewing blood on the ice, but you can’t say fighting isn’t part of the game.
Players use fighting to help motivate their team, especially if they are down by a goal and need a little push. In the Penguins-Capitals game, the Capitals used Beagle getting knocked out, played hard for him and won that game.
I played ice hockey growing up, and I am going to be honest—I was not good at all. I started late and just being able to stop on skates was a victory for me. I couldn’t shoot the puck all that hard, my wrist shot was eh and I could only stop with my right foot. Now, you weren’t allowed to fight in high school, but that didn’t stop me all that much.
I used to throw my body around and hit anything that moved – or at least I tried to. I would also take any hit on me personally and get into fights resulting in my expulsion from the game.
That was the role I played, and I was proud of it (even if my mom would sit in the waiting room of the arena not to watch my games). If it helped my team win it was fine by me. If I got into a fight and my teammates used that as motivation to help win that night, I had a successful game.
Now, there are always players who take it too far and cheap shot people—hit them when they are not looking. That has to be taken out of the game, but you can not make a rule banning fighting. The players in the NHL need to respect each other to the point where they don’t go out and purposely hurt people.
Fighting is part of the game of hockey, just like throwing at players in baseball and hard fouls in the NBA.
You don’t have to fight if you don’t want to. Keep your gloves on and your head up.