Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla thinks fighting in the NHL is necessary.
“Does fighting still have a place in today’s NHL? My answer is a qualified yes,” Iginla wrote for Sports Illustrated. “I temper my response because I don’t know of any player who truly loves fighting. Ideally it would not be a part of the game. But the nature of our sport is such that fighting actually curtails many dirty plays that could result in injuries.”
According to SI.com, Iginla, a 17-year veteran, has been involved in more than 60 bouts in the NHL.
“One misconception about fighting is that it is for entertainment, a spectacle for the fans. But most hockey players do not see themselves as boxers or fighters,” he wrote. “We would all rather be scoring a goal — or preventing one! While I agree that fighting has entertainment value and is enjoyed by many fans, there is a lot more to it than that. There is a purpose behind almost every fight. I have fought — and my teammates have, too — to stick up for myself or to stand up for a teammate who had been the victim of dirty play. And I do acknowledge that fighting can provide an emotional lift for a team. A player who drops his gloves and puts himself in harm’s way on behalf of his teammates is selfless and courageous. And those are qualities that all hockey players respect.”
“Fighting helps hold players accountable for their actions on the ice, even more so than penalties. If it was taken out of the game, I believe there would be more illegal stickwork, most of it done out of sight of the referees; more slashes to the ankles or wrists, and in between pads; and more cross checks to the tailbone. Incidents of players taking such liberties are rare in today’s game because fighting gives us the ability to hold each other accountable. If you play dirty, you’re going to have to answer for it.”