Arizona Coyotes: Fighting Has A Place In Hockey

Nov 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse (67) celebrates with center Ryan White (25) and defenseman Kevin Connauton (44) after scoring a goal in the second period against San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse (67) celebrates with center Ryan White (25) and defenseman Kevin Connauton (44) after scoring a goal in the second period against San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

Recently the Arizona Coyotes have been struggling with offense, unable to bring home wins. However there is one thing that seems to be growing, and that is aggression.

Arizona Coyotes winger Max Domi is currently out for six weeks due to a hand injury that required surgery.

He obtained that injury by dropping the gloves with Garnet Hathaway of the Calgary Flames.

Rookie Lawson Crouse took on veteran P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators after P.K. challenged him for laying a big hit on forward Viktor Arvidsson.

With more fights occurring, concussion tests and worries growing; some people demand fighting be taken out of the NHL.

More and more people are saying it has poor influence on the youth and is almost barbaric.

However, to this day it remains a crowd pleaser at games. The players advocate for it and so do a vocal portion of the NHL’s fans. In particular, fans at Gila River Arena love a good brawl.

Fighting is part of what gives hockey its character.

When a fight breaks out between two players, the stands come alive. Fans stand up, and the team’s benches and players eagerly wait to see who will stand as the victor.

At that exact moment fans are cashing in for another game, for that player’s jersey, or to purchase tickets for the next time those two teams play. Placing a mental bet on who has the upper hand and will win.

At that same moment the game changes.

The air has changed, the momentum has shifted, the tensions have either grown or been released from their cage.

Goons, pests, and grinders are the heart of the game. They are the ones who stick in a newly minted fan’s head when they first see the game.

They don’t ooze raw talent, but in a way they stand up for the common man by standing up for their teammates.

Ryan White is one example on the Arizona Coyotes who can be counted on to drop the gloves in defense of a teammate when necessary.

White was recently interviewed by a Coyotes’ Kidkaster who asked what his view was on the NHL ridding itself of fighting.

White responded, “I think it’s maybe a good thing for the game. I think the older you get, the smarter, you realize its not the the best thing for your health. But I think at the same time in hockey there is always going to be a little bit of a spot for it.”

People relate to these particular players because they are down to earth. They’ve adapted and swallowed their own egos to make a career in a game they love despite the prospect of personal injury. They’ve shown they have a lot of soul.

Fighting in hockey isn’t just when two players feel like it. That might have been the case more frequently in the past, but now it often occurs only at strategic times or when necessary.

When a star player is injured by a reckless play, that runs the risk of jeopardizing the team’s season, revenue and even possibly the player’s career. Hockey players argue that fighting prevents more violence than it causes.

Enforcers regulate the game, making sure the stars and rookies aren’t getting taken advantage of.

Paul Bissonnette was a prime example of a goon, and remains a fan favorite in Arizona despite having departed the organization.

Fighting isn’t completely negative from a teaching standpoint, either.

It teaches the youth that as teammates you stick up for each other. This shows them that they don’t have to accept themselves or their friends getting shoved around by the bigger guy. Stand up for teammates. They are like family, protect them.

Fighting has regulations, rules to follow. Both NHL enforced as well as the player’s “code”.

For the most part players abide by these rules to the letter, particularly the code. Those who don’t are swiftly dealt with for intentionally injuring or head hunting players.

There are so many other components that go into a fight, things that people don’t know.

Fights aren’t only used to punish people, but to swing the momentum of the fans and team. If the team needs the shift, fights will break out.

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If you take out fighting completely, you are changing the whole mental and physical dynamic of the game.

People argue that fighting will cause concussions and other traumatic injuries. That does happen, as it was in the case of Joe Vitale, but player’s contend they mitigate more than they create.

When penalties should be called, and are not, it often leads to a rise in physical contact. In retaliation for one misdeed, there is often even more body checking, slashing, and boarding as a consequence. There are only so many penalties that will be doled out, so without a means to end the conflict injuries may increase.

If you remove the ability to police themselves from NHL players, I would argue that you are welcoming more violence and making it more dangerous for the players. Fighting is a tradition, and a safety valve.

It shouldn’t be broken or taken away. Although it does indeed cause injuries like Max Domi’s, it’s also preventing more of them from occurring.

Next: Every Coyotes' Fight From The 2012-13 Season

Throughout their time in the desert, the Arizona Coyotes have clearly favored fighting and aggression in their style of play.

Hockey fights are deeper than just the bloody surface. It’s a point being made, a check being cashed and a tradition that will continue to thrive.