George Parros, the Montreal enforcer, NHL veteran and former King, suffered an alarming concussion when he fell face-first on the ice Tuesday night after he lost his balance during a fight with Toronto’s Colton Orr and was carted off the ice on a stretcher. Because it was the season-opening game in the NHL and many avid fans across the continent were tuned in, the incident generated a heavy response through print and digital avenues and across social media as many weighed in to continue the conversation of whether fighting remains an integral and necessary part of hockey.
It is a discussion that will continue through the season, and on Thursday morning, I spoke with Darryl Sutter, Kyle Clifford and Dustin Brown about the role of fighting within the sport.
Darryl Sutter, on the discussion of fighting within hockey:
[It happens] always every time somebody gets hurt in a fight. But, quite honest, when you poll the coaches or poll the players, poll the fans. You guys poll the fans. I kind of laugh at it, quite honest, because most of the highlights are either fights or somebody getting hurt, and that’s what people like to see, for whatever reason. It’s the old car accident thing. [Reporter: Do you think that people are too quick to demand rule changes?] Take a picture. We carry a weapon. It’s the only sport that you carry a weapon. So how do you equalize it? Players will quietly tell you that also.
Kyle Clifford, on fighting within hockey:
I think it’s always got a place in our game. This debate’s been going on for 30, 40 years, probably. It definitely keeps guys honest and keeps guys on their toes. It’s one of those things that comes at a price sometimes, and I hope George has a good recovery. I hope everything’s good there, but I think it’s always got its place in the game.
Clifford, on the team addressing the new helmet rule and other new rules:
Yeah, we went over the new rule changes with the icing and that, and the equipment and stuff like that. So obviously I think that’s a good thing. It helps protect a little bit, especially when you’re going down on the ice on the back of your head, or something like that. Obviously the league’s trying to do everything they can to keep guys safe, but there’s only so much you can do sometimes.
Dustin Brown, on fighting within hockey:
I mean, there’s pros and cons to each side. It’s just weighing them. I’m not really sure where I stand right now. My concern is if you take the fighting [out of the] game, you’ll see more stick stuff and probably more guys running around knowing that they don’t have to fight. You might see more injuries that way. On the flip side of that, obviously seeing what happened to George the other night, it’s a scary moment for the league. It’s a debate that I’m sure will go on for the next few years.