One of my favourite youtube videos of all time was Larry Robinson coming back on to the ice during a preseason beach clearing brawl to find Dave Schultz and beat the snot out of him. Like all hockey fans, violence has always been a part of the game for me and I am just as guilty as anyone for condoning and encouraging it.
Having said that, I have to admit that a few years ago that I began to feel anxious and afraid whenever somebody was fighting out of their "class". I did not like to see the likes of an Downey facing a Boogaard as I feared for Downey's well being. The enforcers were becoming too well trained. They were killing machines on ice. It was at that point I knew I would see a day where fighting was no longer a part of the game of hockey.
If you think about it logically, why not? American Football and Rugby are tough, physical sports that do not condone fighting. Most hockey fights fall into two categories, intimidation goon tactics and retaliation. Intimidation goon tactics includes the "tap on the shoulder" sending your goon out to fight to change the flow of the game, or trying to get under someone's skin to force them to fight you. Retaliation is self explanatory.
I personally could never see the point of two heavyweights starting a fight for no reason out of the blue. It's pointless, there is no consequence to either team or player, the other ten players have to stop playing and watch these to turkeys punch each other's brains in. Both players go off for five minutes and believe me, they are not missed in a hockey sense. It's a complete sideshow to the game.
Retaliation is different. Usually, it is in response to a big hit believed to be dirty by the team that received it, or a response to physical and verbal taunting ie face washes, stickwork, ect. It seems to me these issues should be entirely dealt with by the officials. If you give someone a facewash, that should be an automatic penalty. If you jab someone with your stick, that should be an automatic penalty. If you tell someone he is a wussy and you're going to kill him, that should be an automatic penalty.
We continue to allow and encourage players to be a**holes. We glorify them. We all want one on our team because it gives you an edge. If you put them in the box 3 or 4 times a game, we might not want them anymore. And what would the game be without Avery's antics right?
In short, if you want to see people beating each other's brains in watch Jerry Springer. Hockey needs to evolve. It should have started 50 years ago. We are kind of the the retarded sibling of the sporting world, but it doesn't mean we have to keep stalling our evolution.
Bare-Knuckle Boxing is illegal for a reason. Putting it on ice should not make it right.