The scene: After a hard-fought prospects game at one of the many preseason tournaments sprouting up across North America, a progressive coach brings a player into his office to discuss the fighting major the player earned the night before in the second period of a 5-1 hockey game.
“Oh, hey, it’s good to see you showed up. I wanted to call you in here with regards to that fight that you had last night in our prospects game.
Listen, I don’t know who told you that the best way to get noticed during these tournaments is to stand up for either yourself or your teammates, but it isn’t. Our scouting staff have spend hours watching you and, while we may not have drafted you this past spring, it by no means indicates that we don’t know much about you.
We invited you to this camp so that we could test you out in a few game situations under our control and see how you handle them. One of those isn’t fighting, trust me. You don’t have to prove anything. We know how hard you work already.
Look, you’re a good hockey player. I’ve seen some of your game tape from junior hockey, and there’s a lot of good things that you can do, and trust me, we’re looking. We know how hard you’ve worked to make it this far in hockey, and you definitely don’t need to prove it to us. Particularly by doing something as dangerous as fighting; I was nearly sick to my stomach last night watching you scrap and I’m relieved that you and the guy on the other team you fought came out unscatched, but let’s not toy with fate.
I don’t want to connect the dangers of fighting to some of the tragic deaths we’ve seen over the past two summers because in all those terrible cases there were outside influences factor in, but that doesn’t mean that this organization takes them lightly. Hockey is already a fast, dangerous, violent game that can hurt you in many different ways and we don’t want to add to that list on dangerous, violent things in this sport, particularly with something that this organization doesn’t feel has a tangible impact on the game.
You may think that you’re turning the momentum in the game, but, trust me, we’ve done a bit of research. For all the examples you can find of a player overcoming an opponent in fisticuffs and motivating his team to score a goal and come back to win the hockey game, we can find just as many examples of times it didn’t work.
In the end, while I appreciate that you want to show how hard you’ve worked, I’d feel a lot better if you showed me in other ways. Win puck battles, create scoring chances, or even do something as simple as set up an offensive zone faceoff—really, our coaching staff and video analysts are looking at all these things when we evaluate our players. We want to see you do things on the ice that we think can help us win the hockey game, and we don’t want to see you taking part in a sideshow when we don’t know the full effects of the toll fighting can take on a player, particularly one so young as yourself.”