The sight of Montreal Canadiens forward George Parros face-first to the ice during a fight, then having to be wheeled off was a frightening one, indeed. And no sooner had Parros been taken off, immobilized on that stretcher, did the debate begin again.
Should fighting be taken out of the game? Is there a place for it? For most Chicago Blackhawks players and coach Joel Quenneville, no it shouldn’t because, yes, there still is.
“Obviously there are going to be people talking about this after an incident like that, but it definitely has a place where we believe it’s a big part of the game. It keeps the game in order,” Patrick Kane said on Thursday. “One or two guys on each team are there because they can play hockey, but also because they can stick up for their teammates and have that enforcer rule. I think it has a place in the game. I’m sure a lot of players do too.”
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Those who fight certainly believe it has a place in the game. Brandon Bollig got to the NHL because of his fighting ability. While he’s determined to play more of a well-rounded game and not be just there for fights, he nevertheless knows what his bread and butter is.
“You have to keep guys honest. You’ve got to have that protection and security for your team,” he said. “There’s a place for it. Guys are going to do whatever they can do to get on the team and stay in the lineup. For some, fighting is their calling, and they’re going to do it as much as possible.”
Still, there’s always the risk of a player suffering the same fate as Parros did the other night. Bollig gets that.
“There’s obviously the danger every night when you go out there and somebody can get knocked out. But there’s a place for it in the game,” he said. “It’s unfortunate when things like that happen, and luckily George is OK. But there’s definitely a part in the game for it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m lucky there is.”
An NHL without fighting: it seems impossible to completely rid the league of it. Coach Joel Quenneville certainly couldn’t see it.
“That’s tough, tough, tough,” he said. “It’s been a part of (the game) forever. You have to be careful of taking out rules. Then you see all these things you never thought about. There have always been deterrents to eliminate fighting to a different level every season. But at the same time, let’s keep it the way it is.”
The debate will rage on regarding fighting. It will intensify whenever someone is seriously hurt, as Parros was – Parros is out of the hospital, but he suffered a concussion, and those always have to be taken very seriously. But for many of the Blackhawks, they just can’t see it being completely erased from the game.
“I don’t think you can ever get rid of it. You’d have guys doing whatever they want,” Andrew Shaw said. “You have to protect your teammates. What happened to George was scary, but I’m sure he’ll be OK. I don’t think he’d want fighting out of the game, either.”