From my new favorite hockey blog, which I just discovered three minutes ago:
Rogers Sportsnet’s Doug MacLean made a revealing point on Hockey Central this week, one that is never raised by other TV hockey analysts, probably because they just didn’t know.
Amid all the hand-wringing concern about a crackdown on cheap shots — full chorus now — “taking the hitting out of the game,” MacLean, quoting NHL vice-president Colin Campbell, noted that there’s never been as much hitting in the NHL as there is today. It’s not even close.
Campbell and his staff viewed some 1970s footage after which they concluded they’re likely to see more hitting in one shift today than in a full game from the 1970s. You’d reach the same conclusion if you watched some film from the 1960s. Not a great deal of hitting. But, you know, the game was entertaining and people loved it.
That’s why it’s just hilarious to hear the NHL establishment fretting about what awful damage to hockey a ban on cheap shots or even fighting would do. The answer is it would do nothing to hurt the game. It would give the NHL some credibility.
It’s also worth stating that if a professional sport needs to condone, even encourage fighting and cheap shots to survive, it doesn’t deserve to survive.