Fighting and Headshots- Hypocrisy in Debates

John Scott’s hit on Loui Eriksson has once again created controversy and outrage among the hockey media about headshots in the league. This particular instance was a bit different from the others because the aggressor, 6 foot 8 John Scott, is a well-known enforcer in the league and injured a star player for the Bruins. The two perennial arguments that come up 3-4 times a year in hockey are the role of enforcers, and the number of headshots that still occur in the run of a season. This issue has successfully brought the two together.

Admittedly, John Scott plays a very limited role for the Sabres and usually averages sub-5 minutes a game. Pundits have claimed that he has no value outside face punching and shouldn’t be in the league, I disagree to an extent but this is not the point of this post. If you remember, the Buffalo Sabres acquired John Scott after Milan Lucic ran over Buffalo’s star goalie Ryan Miller in the previous season. The Sabres were criticized then for not having a guy who can answer the bell and take on a player like Milan Lucic, who is a trained boxer to go along with his great hockey skills. This is the hypocrisy that circles hockey every year.

Hockey is an aggressive sport that markets itself on being a game that demands toughness from players and the ability to separate pain from injury. Although very physical, most players in the league respect a certain line that is not crossed and play by a ‘code’. Players who cross this line and take a run at a star player (such as Lucic’s hit on miller) answer to a guy like John Scott whose purpose is well known around the league.

It is my opinion that fighting still has a place in the game, and without it there would be more dirty plays and injured star players. Former NHL and KHL head coach Paul Maurice speaks on the issue here ( and talks about his experience coaching in Russia where there are game misconducts for fighting. He says that he’s “never been more scared” that one of his players were going to get hurt with all the dirty plays/hits in the league.

The fact is you can’t have it both ways. In my opinion hockey has never been better to watch. The game is faster than ever. Although unfortunate, players will get injured. Its important to try and limit these injuries as much as possible but taking fighting out will have the opposite effect in my opinion. The instigator rule has brought with it the “rise of the rat” (players like Avery (formally), Kaleta, Cooke), removing fighting all together will make avoidable injuries even more prevalent, as you are removing one of the main deterrents from playing dirty.


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4 Responses to Fighting and Headshots- Hypocrisy in Debates

  1. bc10et says:

    I agree completely fighting still has a place in hockey today, and in my opinion always will. It is the head shots and dirty hits that need to be addressed in the sport. I think if it weren’t for fighting the sport would have even more illegal checks than we see today, fighting as I see it keeps many players aware and in check, always second guessing and turning away from illegal hits

  2. jw09ea says:

    The debate on fighting and enforcers in hockey always reaches very emotional levels after a hit like Scott’s. When a player who is considered talented and important to his team (Eriksson) is injured due to the careless actions of a player considered easily replaceable (Scott) people naturally want an example made. If it were a player like Steve Ott, who combines tough play with some actual skill, I have a feeling people may be a little more lenient. The goal of the hockey community should be to eliminate the role of the enforcer, or ‘goon’. There is no place for these one-dimensional players who are taking roster spots from their more talented counterparts. Players like Lucic should be the mold for the ‘tough guy’; strong players with skill, who can drop the gloves if a situation calls for it.

  3. jmahood90 says:

    I agree that there is a huge level of hypocrisy in these debates. I feel that the media members blow a lot of injuries that are caused by accidents out of proportion. For example in recent games the George Parros injury when he fell and hit his face on the ice. Alot of people have failed to realize that anyone could have slipped on a rut in the ice or fell off the bench and done the same thing. The media tends to rush to conclusions on injuries that happen to enforce to new policies. Other topics that have been been brought up because of injuries is when Taylor Hall slipped on a puck during warmups and had his head stepped on causing a massive gash. Media members were rushed to say to bring in a mandatory helmet policy during warmups. Another example is when Oli Jokinen had his neck cut by a skate in another freak accident, media members were calling for new and mandatory neck protection.

  4. tmills17 says:

    I completely agree, if fighting was taken out of the game players would have to take out their frustrations in a different manner. Hockey is an emotional game, and as weird as it is to say it is almost safer to have guys getting in fights, than to have people running each other, and slashing each other all over the ice. Most hockey fights are about 30-40 seconds with three or four solid punches before both combatants fall to the ice and they are broken up. There are less injuries from these fights than there are from the blindsiding hits, head shots, and slashes in the league. The role of an enforcer is to protect teammates from these dirty plays. Without an enforcer, players tend to take liberties on their opponents. If they know they are going to suffer a consequence afterwards they are less likely to take these liberties.

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