Hockey and the fighting debate

The sport’s most stubborn ritual forces the conversation on the NHL’s opening night
Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Colton Orr (28) kneels over Montreal Canadiens right wing George Parros (15) after Parros hit his head on the ice during their fight during third period National Hockey League action Tuesday, October 1, 2013 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Ryan Remiorz/CP

“The shame on this game continues.”—the Toronto Star‘s Damien Cox, after Montreal Canadiens’ tough guy George Parros suffered a concussion after a fight with Maple Leafs enforcer Colton Orr

Hockey is a frustrating sport when someone is knocked out cold on the ice. A body that looks lifeless, even if it isn’t, always gives pause. When that body hits the ice after a fight, one of the game’s most stubbornly routine rituals, that pause is never enough. Always, after every head injury caused by a tilt, there follows a debate about fighting’s place in the game.

This morning, Montreal Canadiens’ tough guy George Parros begins to recover from a concussion he suffered last night after a fight with Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Colton Orr. The hockey season is barely a day old, and couldn’t we have watched just a few more games before fighting once again stole the mic and beat it to a bloody pulp? Of course not. Hockey is a fighting sport.

Players respect enforcers. Enforcers stand up for teammates. Fights settle scores. Concussions happen. “Players are going to get hurt taking a hit, taking shots, they’re going to get hurt battling in corners, it’s the nature of the business,” said Canadiens’ defenceman Josh Gorges, who was effusive in his praise for the league’s tough guys. In the other dressing room, the Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri pledged allegiance to Parros and Orr. “You need those enforcers to kind of patrol the ice and keep everything in order,” he said.

The Toronto Star‘s Damien Cox and the the National Post‘s Bruce Arthur and The Globe and Mail‘s Sean Gordon and James Mirtle and the CBC’s Tim Wharnsby all wrote about fighting this morning, and they all sounded so tired of whatever conversation will happen next about the evils or virtues of on-ice scraps, and probably they’ll have to do it all again in a few weeks. From these dispatches and so many others, two truths emerge: Fighting is a part of hockey. Everybody hates an injury. How those two things can co-exist with some semblance of harmony might be impossible to resolve. But, hey, maybe we’ll get a few clean games before the next patch of bloody ice.


What’s above the fold

The Globe and MailThe U.S. government remains partially shut down.
National PostMuch of the U.S. government remains functional during the shutdown.
Toronto StarToronto Mayor Rob Ford’s apparent associate, Sandro Lisi, was arrested.
Ottawa CitizenThe defence department claims no bugs were found at its new Ottawa HQ.
CBC NewsThere’s no end in sight to the partial shutdown of the U.S. government.
CTV NewsThe partial shutdown could last for weeks, if pessimistic predictions hold.
National NewswatchFinance Minister Jim Flaherty’s summer retreat cost taxpayers $16,000.

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