It doesn't sound like NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wants to outlaw fighting in hockey, nor do I expect him to. He understands that violence sells and doesn't want to alienate fans by eliminating what he called an "integral" part of the sport.
Fighting was topic of discussion at the NHL's All-Star weekend in Montreal after a 21-year-old amateur player died from injuries sustained in a fight earlier this month and a minor league player had a seizure Friday night after engaging in fisticuffs.
The NHL wants to examine ways to make fighting safer, like making sure helmets stay on. That way if a player falls to the ice, his noggin is protected. In the meantime, what's to prevent someone from getting punched in the eye and suffering permanent damage to their vision?
If the NHL truly wants to rid the sport of fighting, all it has to do is institute a rule in which a player who throws a punch is automatically ejected from the game and faces a possible suspension and fine. That would at least cause some players to think twice before dropping their gloves. It might also cause them to take more liberties with their stick.
As long as hockey is run by guys who think the movie Slap Shot is still funny after watching it a dozen times, fighting will never be abolished. Proponents of fighting justify it by saying hockey is a violent sport. So is football, but I don't see two players wailing away on each other.