Players like Rick DiPietro, Colton Orr and Derek Boogaard are still on the sidelines due to serious injuries suffered in fights. Then word came last week that the late Bob Probert was suffering from a degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated head trauma. Before fans could fully absorb that news, Edmonton Oilers' number one overall draft pick Taylor Hall had his rookie season ended by an ankle injury suffered in his first career fight.
So here we go again. It seems that the fighting debate has been raging for decades. And while it's lead to hours of heated rhetoric, there's little evidence of anyone ever actually changing their mind.
But maybe that can change. I've spoken to experts on both sides of the issue, and I've captured their best arguments below. For the first time, here are both sides of hockey's greatest debate presented side-by-side. Maybe, just maybe, we can settle this once and for all.
Pro-fighting: Banning fighting would eliminate the chance of a fight between Matt Cooke and Sean Avery that the linesmen could just "forget" to break up.
Anti-fighting: Fights are nothing more than quasi-exciting but ultimately demeaning sideshows that don't showcase any actual hockey skills and have no place in the game, and these days we have the shootout for that.
Pro-fighting: Without the threat of fighting, noble enforcers like Jody Shelley and Trevor Gillies would be unable to protect their teammates from despicable cheap-shot artists like Jody Shelley and Trevor Gillies.
Anti-fighting: Let's face it, nobody really likes having fighting in the game except for ignorant know-nothings like fans, most general managers and coaches, and virtually every single player.
Pro-fighting: Getting rid of fighting would just result in every episode of Coach's Corner being nothing more than a seven-minute diatribe about no-touch icing,
Anti-fighting: If punching somebody in the face at a hockey game is outlawed, only outlaws will punch somebody in the face at a hockey game. And Flyer fans. Actually, mostly Flyer fans.
Pro-fighting: If we just hold off on doing anything to address the rapidly growing list of players lost to concussions for another year or two, all of us will eventually get to play in the NHL for a few games.
Anti-fighting: Mike Milbury has historically been pro-fighting.
Pro-fighting: Wait, Mike Milbury is now apparently anti-fighting.
Anti-fighting: Fighting is an outdated concept that may have made sense for previous generations but has no place in the modern game, like goalies playing without masks or an NHL team in Winnipeg.
Pro-fighting: The inability to regularly write simplistic and condescending anti-fighting columns could spell the end of the already struggling newspaper industry.
Anti-fighting: Studies have shown that a total ban on fighting would increase hockey viewership by 20% in the southern United States, because Tom says he's pretty sure he'd start watching.
Pro-fighting: Hey, remember when they had fighting in NHL 93 and then they took it out for NHL 94? Which one did you like better? Exactly.
Anti-fighting: In addition to being overpaid and overrated based on last year's Cup run, Niemi is known to snore loudly on team flights and often plays bad Finnish pop music on the Sharks' team stereo. (Editor's note: Wait, sorry, this should have been listed as an "Antti fighting" argument.)
Pro-fighting: Players engaging in fights face the possibility of devastating injury and even long-term disability, which is a risk that I as a fan sitting in my easy chair have decided I am willing to accept.
Anti-fighting: Eliminating fighting would send a strong message to impressionable children that settling a dispute by knocking somebody unconscious with your fists is unacceptable; instead, use your rock solid shoulder pad like a gentleman would.