Steve Yzerman, one of the most prominent voices in the NHL for close to three decades, has called for a ban on fighting. The statement comes one day after a significant head injury to Canadiens enforcer George Parros.
Yzerman told TSN’s Darren Dreger that he believes players should get game misconducts for fighting.
“We penalize and suspend players for making contact with the head while checking, in an effort to reduce head injuries, yet we still allow fighting.
“We’re stuck in the middle and need to decide what kind of sport do we want to be. Either anything goes and we accept the consequences, or take the next step and eliminate fighting.”
Yzerman’s right, there appears to be a double standard with regard to head injuries. As if throwing fists of fury somehow justify brain injuries down the road. It’s important to note that Yzerman was good friends with the late Bob Probert, a ruthless enforcer for the Wings and Blackhawks from 1986-2002. Following his death, Probert’s family donated his brain to Boston University for research. In February of 2011, the school announced they found evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Obviously, there’s no way to pinpoint how the CTE manifested but repeated blows to the head during a fight could not have been good.
This is personal for Yzerman. He may not say so publicly, but watching a friend die at 45, watching him struggle to live a normal life post-career—yea, that takes a toll on you.
The NHL will get rid of fighting one day. Let’s hope they do it sooner rather than later.