The brawl in Philadelphia has started up the debate all over again, and watching what Don Cherry said on Saturday night gave great insight in to what I think fighting is. Don said that this brawl was intended to spark the Flyers and snap them out of this funk that they were in. It was too late for that particular game but they did come back and win the next one. Fighting isn’t about the other team it’s about starting fire to your own team and giving them the strength to carry on in a bleak situation.
In this installment of hockey fights I talk to Bobby Robins of the Providence Bruins. The only stat I need to give as to why I chose to interview Bobby is that he was in 35 fights with the Bruins last season. In his career he has been in 69 AHL fights and 34 ECHL fights.
Here is what Bobby had to say:
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding fighting in hockey lately, as a player who has been in numerous fights, what is the purpose of fighting in hockey?
The purpose of fighting in hockey is to serve as a method of enforcement or protection among the players in a hockey game. The idea of “answering the bell” means that if you do something dirty on the ice, there will be a consequence. It holds players accountable for their actions. There is also the aspect of intimidation and momentum swings. Sometimes a spirited fight will ignite an arena and your team, and the momentum of a game will shift in your favor. Regarding intimidation, everyone feels fear and hockey players are no different. We play an aggressive game, and the notion that you may have to fight another man is obviously an intimidating notion, and can be used as a tool to gain the upper hand in a hockey game.
If fighting was taken out of hockey how would that change the game?
The game would actually become more violent and dangerous. You would see more cheap shots and dirty hits. There would be more stick work and scrums after the whistle. If you take out the players own policing system, everyone becomes a tough guy, and there will be accountability for playing dirty, in my opinion.
Hitting causes the same amount if not more injuries than fighting, why do you think most of the negative attention is focused on fighting rather than hitting?
I don’t know the specifics or statistics on how many injuries result from fighting and how many result from hitting, but most of the brutal concussions that I have seen over the years results from blindside hits to the head. Obviously, the hockey world is trying to cut down on these types of hits, and this is a good thing. There are also new rules about removing your helmets before a hockey fight and adding an extra two minute penalty on top of the five minute major if you do this. It’s all for the protection of the players. The big picture is that no one wants to see people get hurt and get brain injuries. I’m not sure if more negative attention is going toward hockey fights, more so than hits to the head, but both of them are dangerous, and that’s the reality of our sport, it’s a dangerous game and always has been. Hockey fighting gets a lot of attention because it’s pretty much the only place in the world where you can fight with bare knuckles, and it’s such a spectacle when one happens. It’s an intense outburst of passion and fury, and it’s hard to ignore. When a hockey fight happens, everyone is watching.
What is your favourite fight in hockey history? Why?
*Note* I want to thank Bobby for answering my questions and Kevin Boryczk for setting up the interview.