Blog Entry

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:55 pm

By Brian Stubits

Since Brendan Shanahan has taken over, the eradication of head shots in the league has been priority No. 1. Clearly, it is keeping him busy as eight players have been suspended in the last eight days.

Down the priority list is the possibility of removing something else from hockey: fighting. We stress possibility because he didn't come out and say he wants to get rid of it, just that the NHL is "looking at [it] closely."

Specifically, here's what he had to say to CBC show Mansbridge One on One that will air next week.

"We're definitely very serious in making advancements in studying blows to the head; we have to also look at fighting," Shanahan said. "What the final decision is, I can't tell you now. That's something we're obviously going to have to look at, but there's no way we would ever deny that it's not something we're looking at closely."

So far, just about everything Shanahan has done has been almost universally praised. But that would change in a heartbeat if fighting were taken out of the game under his watch. Again, to clarify, in no way is he pushing for it to be removed, just that the league will keep a close eye.

This has become a Lightning rod of a topic this summer after the deaths of three former enforcers, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak. No connection can be drawn between their on-ice roles as fighters and them taking their own lives, but that hasn't stopped plenty of people from doing just that. Three times smells an awful lot like a trend.

We don't want to rehash the discussion on fighting in the sport, that's already been done. We had an informal poll up over the summer and about 75 percent of users are against abolishing fighting.

I sincerely doubt the NHL is much closer to doing anything on fighting in the sport yet, but if nothing else they are scrutinizing it more.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 6:15 pm
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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 10:15 am

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

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Since: Apr 21, 2010
Posted on: October 3, 2011 2:18 am

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

Is it me or when did Shanahan turned into a corporate robot. Wow when he talks about those incidents in pre-season his mouth talks like a Hi how are you doing. Way to turn Shanny, went from a player I kind of respected to another corporate fool

Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: October 2, 2011 5:04 pm

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

This is window dressing.
Misterfamous said it best.   Fighting isn't going to leave anytime soon.   Shanahan was being careful with how he worded things, like he's supposed to.   I don't think there's anything in those statments that should cause alarm.

Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: October 2, 2011 2:06 pm

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

C'mon folks- you can break the code on this.  Shanahan was asked about all the dead enforcers over the summer.  If he hadn't said the NHL was examining the role of fighting in the league, then he would've seemed heartless.  Nothing will happen to fighting in the NHL for a while at least- no getting rid of enforcers, the instigator penalty will remain, etc.

The NHL knows that the bloodsport element of fighting attracts a lot of fans.  And they've got to know that enforcers can cut down on the cheap-shotting that guys like Jody Shelley and Matt Cooke seem to enjoy.  This is window dressing.

Since: Jan 16, 2010
Posted on: October 2, 2011 3:54 am

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

Abolishing fighting lets recap. Very little hitting you hit a guy he goes diving like a fat drunk guy in a belly flop contest, average goals a game have been the same for 30 years, a shoot out to determine the winner, roughly 50 shots on goal a game, now no fighting hmmm makes me want to pay $70 to see this game. Wait a minute the Ice Capades is coming to town $20 to see the samething

Since: Nov 20, 2007
Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:13 pm

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

<span style="color: #000000;">being an enforcer in hockey has nothing to do with committing suicide.  if fighting was directly related to taking yourself out, George Foreman, Ali and Marvellous Marvin Hagler and a ton of other boxers would be attmepting suicide left and right.  and no it does not smell like a trend, it's starting to smell like 5h!t, to be honest. if you want to take fighting out of hockey, they will need to call the sport something else, because it will no longer be hockey.  you can't call it curling, that name is already taken! stop messing with this game!!!   they're gonna end up with nothing but a shootout, if they keep this up.  no face off, no nothing, but a skater facing a goalie.   shanny should focus on something more productive and sensible, like the hockey version of the Bebee helmet.   how about an inflatable helmet that makes you favorite player look like the freakin' bobblehead toy that they give away to the first 500 kids at the arena?  give it rest.

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: October 1, 2011 8:20 pm

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

Whoa boys.  You're heading down the wrong trail. Hard to believe that Shanny is going to be a strong adovate for abolishing fighting.  The article says it's way down on the priority list.  Of course the league has to look into it because of the recent deaths but I just can't foresee fighting banned from the game.

I can't see fighting being completely banned from the NHL either, but one thing I'm 100 percent sure about is Shanahan doesn't have the power to do it even if it does happen.  Yeah, he'll have some input and so will have many others but Shanahan alone can't do a thing. As a matter of fact he's nowhere near the top decision maker in the NHL when it comes to these things.

First of all the commissioner Bettman would ask for fighting to be banned.  He works for the owners who would then have to approve it or the idea dies right there.  And if the owners vote to ban fighting ( I think it's something like a 75 or 80 percent majority vote is required) then they bring it to the union.  A new CBA is coming up and the league would have to get that into the new CBA.  If they don't and they want to change anything after the next CBA is signed the union has to sign off on it.

I will say this much though.  If Bettman wants this to happen and if the owners agree to ban fighting, then it probably does happen because the union would be under a tremendous amount of pressure to sign off on it.  Whether it's banning fighting altogether or newer and stricter rules that make people think twice, the union would almost have to agree with anything the league wants to do.  Why? Because if they don't, their membership now and especially down the road isn't going to be able to sue the NHL for injuries they occurred that were related to fighting. All the league has to do is ask for drastic changes and if the union fights them on it at all, the NHL wins. 

Finally, I wish people would quit referring to what Shanny did or what Shanny thought in his career.  He could have been the dirtiest player and the biggest goon and it wouldn't matter today because he has a different job that requires he think differently.   Employees in the world we live in become managers, and managers sometimes end up owning businesses.  Their mentality has to change with these changes... heck,  crown attorneys sometimes quit their jobs and become defence lawyers for God sakes.... cops open up businesses after they retire charging people big dollars to help them beat their court cases.  Shanny is no different....

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: October 1, 2011 3:33 pm

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

Might as well let women in the league next if you want to take out fighting!  Reeeedic!

Manon Rhéaume...Although she only played in a exhibition game she still has been on the ice with NHLers in a game.

Since: Feb 10, 2009
Posted on: October 1, 2011 2:44 pm

Shanahan: NHL 'looking closely' at fighting

Fighting will never be taken out of the game.  Anyone who has ever played knows it's impossible.

your underestimating Uncle Gary, take a look at his body of work in his tenure. your more likely to find the end of a rainbow than a hockey enforcer anymore. lets not forget Shanny is looking to make an impression on that clown so even one of the best power forwards ever I think, will change his colors and ham it up to accomplish that very thing

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