No need to ban fighting in hockey

Graham & Cristina Mink

About the Author

Graham & Cristina Mink

Graham Mink is in his 11th season of pro hockey and his third stint with the Hershey Bears. He and his wife, Cristina, have been married since 2008 and have a son, Gunnar. The Minks will check in all season with Pennsylvania Puck's Dave Sottile.

Graham Mink

I think fighting is an important part of professional hockey. I think there’s definitely a place for it and my feelings haven’t changed despite recent events. It’s one of the reasons that hockey is different than every other sport.

Fighting is exciting, the fans like it for the most part, and it serves a purpose by providing protection for the players.

We’re grown men on the ice surface, with blades on our feet and sticks in our hands, skating between fixed boards. There’s a lot of areas where serious injuries can occur if there’s not a level of respect in the game. And I think over the last 10 or 15 years, the respect in the game has diminished.

As the role of fighting has diminished, the level of respect has diminished, and now you see more guys getting run from behind, more head shots.

The purpose fighting serves is to deter people from that. They need to know that if you take a run at a guy, you’ll have to answer the bell for it.

It was a fair fight

(Pittsburgh’s) Arron Asham was protecting his star player. He issued a challenge to (Washington’s) Jay Beagle, who accepted the challenge and got knocked out. It’s unfortunate. It was hard to watch, because I like Beagle. I’m friends with him. We’ve played together (in Hershey), but that’s the name of the game. It was a fair fight.

The events this summer, the tragic deaths (of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak), I don’t know if they were related to fighting in any way. There’s a lot of other sports where people get concussions on a regular basis, like boxing, MMA and football. It’s something that should be looked at, and there should be help for people that are experiencing depression and are having problems with that.

Whether or not repeated brain trauma causes that, I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. But it doesn’t really change my opinion of fighting in hockey.

I don’t remember who my first hockey fight was against, but I remember getting beat up pretty good. I had always played amateur hockey in the United States, so I never fought. Couldn’t fight in college.

I came in and played a college style. I rubbed people the wrong way, I’m sure. I had to fight a lot, because I’m a bigger guy. And if you’re going to run around, you’re going to have to fight.

Fighting was a lot more prevalent when I was a rookie 11 years ago than it is now. And I was in the East Coast League, which is a much tougher league in terms of fighting. I got beat up a lot and had to learn the hard way. It changed the style of play for me because I didn’t want to have to get in those fights.

You have more respect for a team when you have that fear of getting beat up by somebody that’s tougher than you.

Absolutely, you fear (getting knocked out). Everybody in hockey watched Beagle get knocked out. That’s always in the back of your mind when you’re playing. That’s why people don’t like to fight. That’s why it’s a deterrent, because that can happen, and I don’t want that to happen.

More serious injuries without fighting

That’s also another reason why it’s exciting for fans. A lot of people like to watch because there’s always the potential for that to occur. Boxing is pretty popular, and MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports.

There’s that element in hockey and people refer to it as a sideshow. I don’t feel that way. I feel it plays a role in the sport. And without it, there would be a lot more serious injuries to players because of a lack of respect for each other.

I don’t think fighting will ever be eliminated. I think they’re crazy if they do. That’s what makes hockey different. It’s exciting. Yeah, guys get hurt, but if guys didn’t get hurt it wouldn’t be exciting.

It’s hard to say, but we’re in the entertainment business just like a UFC fighter or a boxer. There’s some segment of the population that likes watching guys get knocked out and compete in battle.

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