Those of you who watched the NHL Game of the Week on NBC today already heard many of these arguments. Pierre and Michael argued today as to whether or not the NHL should ban fighting.
I say no. But I would agree to a review of the rules regarding fights. I believe that fighting will always have a place in hockey, but just like every other rule in hockey it is always subject to being reviewed.
Some things that I think should be changed:
1.) Players who were visors should not fight. Period. If they do fight with a visor or any other extra protective gear it should be an automatic 10 minute misconduct.
2.) Players who get into it right off the face off or well behind the play as Pittsburgh's Eric Godard and New York's Coltan Orr almost did today should get delay of game minors and misconduct penalties to go with the fighting majors. All these fights do is force the ref to drop the puck again. It takes away from play that's already going on.
3.) Any player who appears to be attempting to provoke a fight within the last 5 minutes of regulation should be given a 5 minute major penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. This would send a clear message to players that just because you're getting the crap kicked out of you on the scoreboard doesn't mean you get to start running people over and taking extra shots at your opponant after the whistle blows.
4.) Line judges should be empowered to stop fights before someone gets killed. The Ontario Hockey League has the right idea with it's new set of rules. If a player's helmet is dislodged or removed in any way the officials are expected to break up the fight to prevent either player from being injured. The NHL should also adopt this rule.
Fighting in hockey should definitely be reevaluated, but not banned. More people go to NHL games to see the fights than stay away because of them. But in the "new NHL" they are as disruptive to the flow of a game as reinstating the two-line pass rule would be and steps should be taken to LIMIT but not eliminate them from the game.