(Relevant part starts at 3:50)
It’s summertime and I want to get all philosophical and heavy up in here.
I know I am not exactly breaking new ground by bringing up the topic of violence in hockey but it is one that is surely not going away any time soon and I am especially curious to hear some opinions from you folks.
I just want a quick sampling of opinion to the question, do you believe that the NHL has a moral responsibility to remove fighting from the game?
Let me explain why I am even asking this question. Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a conference (with generous help from my university) in Brazil to give a paper related to my master’s research.
I will spare you the boring details of the paper itself but basically my talk addressed the history of violence in hockey. It was a great experience: I ate some chicken hearts, chocolate churros, and tried to explain Don Cherry to some Brits. More importantly than churros, the conference led to some great discussion that I wanted to continue when I got back to Calgary.
The discussion that followed was centered around a perceived moral problem facing the NHL as a whole.This ‘crisis of conscience,’ as I perceive it, is that professional hockey in North America, and more precisely the National Hockey League, has taken many unprecedented steps to address the spectre of the long term effects of head trauma to its players.
In doing so, the National Hockey League has both acknowledged the danger that concussions pose to players while simultaneously allowing fighting to remain a component of their business and their professional brand. How, in good conscience, can the NHL maintain this dualism? My paper sought to analyze the precedent for this institutionalized disjuncture through examining the history of hockey’s institutions and violence.
However, I am not here to pontificate, if you are bored and want to find out what my paper was about, ask me in the comments and I’ll email you and we can have a lovely chat.I am here on Flamesnation because I want to see what hockey fans think about this issue.At the conference, the vast majority of the attendees were from the UK and USA and very few had familiarity with hockey. Their responses and questions to me struck me as different from what I would expect from a more hockey-savvy audience.
For example, one retired professor from Northeastern University told me that the fighting he saw in the 60s and 70s turned him off the game completely. This strikes me as an extreme case but it got me wondering just how different the context would be if I framed this discussion in Canada.
Recently, at an Enmax leadership talk, Brian Burke mentioned fighting in hockey contributed a great deal to the entertainment value of the game. If the NHL knows the long-term effects of head trauma (i.e CTE), then, aside from the more obvious legal responsibility that will be fought out in the courts over the next little while, does the NHL have a moral responsibility to do something? What role should the players association play in this discussion?
Spill, I want to hear what you guys think.