|English: Hockey fight between the Sudbury Wolves and the Ottawa 67's, around 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Ken Campbell, the Hockey News --- The problem is, there’s something about our game that often brings out the worst in us, whether that’s as players or coaches. If all the hits in hockey were clean, hard and done properly and with respect, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now. There would be hitting at all levels of hockey and with the exception of the occasional unfortunate incident, everyone would probably be able to live with that. But the “hit to hurt” mentality has filtered down from the highest levels of hockey to the lowest and, as a result, you have far too many situations where body contact is used as a tactic to intimidate, even at the youth hockey level, and that results in too many hits to the head that are leaving vulnerable brains like Matthew Kostuch’s scrambled for years after they are injured.
It’s kind of like fighting. If all NHL fights were the result of two players, who can actually play the game, settling a score in a highly emotional affair, that would be one thing. But once you condone – and promote – fighting, it leaves it open to be used as a tactic, or at the very least, a sideshow.
That then leads to the evolution of enforcers and goons, who have one purpose. And that purpose is to keep the skilled players safe, often from the goons and enforcers who are supposed to be keeping everyone safe out there. It creates a vicious cycle from which there is no escape.