Can we please now ban fighting in hockey?

A young man dies on the ice. A father hopes for change. Why isn’t the NHL listening?

Can we please now ban fighting in hockey?

“You’ll never get rid of it entirely.”

Michael Sanderson spoke those words to practically anyone who would listen in the days following his son Donald’s death. And in a nation suffering no small amount of guilt over a senseless loss, they were received as absolution. In the depths of his grief, this man got it, the self-styled purists said. He’s played the sport. He knows fighting is embedded in it. He won’t use the death of his 21-year-old son—by universal account about the best kid you could ever meet—as a pulpit to rail against that which sets the game apart. “Other people won’t understand this,” Don Cherry told his coast-to-coast audience after attending Donald Sanderson’s memorial service in Port Perry, Ont. “But Mike is a hockey guy.”

Yet on this subject, more so than any other, we Canadians don’t listen closely. Or we hear only what we want to. So if you’ve been gathering your information on this slow-moving controversy from Coach’s Corner, it may surprise you to learn that Michael Sanderson would in fact love to see fighting eliminated from the game. You may be shocked to hear he supports measures that would suffocate the practice. Automatic ejections? “Helluva rule.” Requiring players to keep their helmets and visors on during fights? “Great. If they know they’re going to be punching plastic with their bare hands, they’ll eventually stop.”

As for that stuff about “never getting rid of it,” well, the pro-fighting advocates appear to have missed Sanderson’s point entirely. It’s part and parcel of his argument that throwing players out of games and fining them would limit fighting to blue-moon incidents, which can then be severely sanctioned. He cites football, baseball and basketball as sports whose ejection rules have made fighting look “frigging ridiculous.” “They have a fight every once in a while,” he says. “I mean, it’s going to happen. But mostly guys just don’t bother.” Oh, and one more thing: he’s no friend of Don Cherry, with whom he says he has “issues.” “He said we sat there like we were buddies [at Donald’s funeral],” Sanderson says tightly. “I’m, like, no we didn’t.”

Not buddies, not fellow travellers, not allies in a rearguard action against the bleeding hearts. If truth be known Michael Sanderson shares the view of a growing number of Canadians who sensed the ground tilting after the Jan. 2 death of Donald Sanderson, whose head struck the ice after his helmet came off during a fight. Don was no household name: he played for fun with a senior-level team in Whitby, Ont., between classes at York University. But for anyone who has talked hockey over a tray of cheap draft, it was a whispered fear come true. Someday, someone’s going to get killed, we warned ourselves. And now that someone had, it seemed hypocritical not to act. In the days following Sanderson’s death, six out of 10 respondents told a Leger/Sun Media poll they favoured banning fighting from all amateur hockey. The Ontario Hockey League, the province’s top junior circuit, meanwhile, banned players from removing their helmets to fight.

Yet when the discussion came around to the NHL—the last and most influential bastion to keep fighting alive in the game—it ran up against the same old immovability. Sure, a few progressive minds wondered aloud about whether it’s time to discuss the issue (Colin Campbell, the NHL director of hockey operations, promised to raise it next month at a meeting of general managers; Ken Holland, the GM of the Detroit Red Wings, applauded). But by and large, Holland’s peers held firm. Only two of 18 surveyed by TSN support stiffer punishment for fisticuffs, while the league-wide response to Campbell’s proposal was best articulated by Toronto’s Brian Burke. “I think that will be a very short discussion,” he said. “I am not in favour of it.”

The importance of this resistance is obvious. More than mere professionals exercising their freedom to engage in the occasional fist fight, NHL players are beacons youngsters follow into the game. But rather than change, the players, their bosses and the media commentators have circled themselves in dubious arguments for the status quo. Fighting protects talented players from cheap shots, they say. It serves as a release valve for emotions. The fans love it, and so on. There are a host of reasons to question these assumptions—starting with the quaint notion that fighting is the wrong way to resolve our differences. But like Michael Sanderson’s true feelings, they get drowned out by patriotic bluster. The time has come to shout a little louder.

That fighting is embedded in the DNA of hockey is hard to dispute. It is said that the first game played indoors under written rules ended in a fight, as players at McGill University in Montreal scuffled with members of a skating club who wanted to use the ice. That was 1875, and it followed several accounts of outdoor hockey devolving into fist fights and stick-swinging incidents in Toronto and the Maritimes.

The rationalizations came later—most notably the idea that a contact sport played at such high speeds needed fighting as an outlet for anger. “Nothing relaxes the boys like a good fight,” said Francis “King” Clancy, the legendary Toronto Maple Leaf of the 1930s, in a flash of Irish bravura. Clarence Campbell, the NHL’s long-time president, popularized the “safety-valve” trope, warning that, without fighting, “the players would no doubt develop more subtle forms of viciousness.”

These notions took hold, and were allowed to calcify despite an abundance of contradictory evidence. Study after study has demonstrated that violence leads only to more violence, notes Stacy Lorenz, a University of Alberta professor who has studied the history of violence in hockey, while some of the most traumatic moments in the game were either sparked by fighting, or occurred despite its prevalence. Maurice Richard resorted to his fists again and again in response to the slashes and ethnic slurs he endured as a Montreal Canadien. Yet his combativeness did nothing to discourage—and arguably spurred—the opponent who cut his face with a high stick, provoking the epic meltdown that led to the Richard riot of 1955 (a wild-eyed Richard broke his stick across the shoulder of his attacker, Hal Laycoe, and punched a linesman in an attempt to get at the Boston Bruin).

Meanwhile, the cheap shots went on, reaching their apogee in the 1970s, when the Philadelphia Flyers were the Broad Street Bullies and fighting was commonplace. The league was forced to crack down on bench-clearing brawls. But pugilism remained, and in today’s NHL, a perceived cheap shot can lead to endless cycles of retribution, with players waiting several games to exact revenge on an opponent they believe has taken liberties. The idea, says Rob Ray, a former tough guy with the Buffalo Sabres, is to ensure talented players aren’t injured by bigger, tougher opponents. “You can use Wayne Gretzky as an example,” says Ray, who now works as a TV analyst. “He always had somebody looking over his shoulder, protecting him, allowing him to play the game the way he could.”

Trouble is, many cheap shots are committed by practised fighters—no doubt because they are unfazed by the thought of dropping the gloves should they need to. Egregious examples include the forearm shiver Toronto’s designated fighter, Tie Domi, laid during the 2001 playoffs on Scott Niedermayer, an all-star defenceman then with the New Jersey Devils; or Dale Hunter’s blindside elbow on Pierre Turgeon during a 1993 playoff game between the Washington Capitals and Turgeon’s New York Islanders. A more recent spate of attacks suggests the problem has deepened, as small-time pugilists take liberties with players who don’t typically fight. In October 2007, Jesse Boulerice, a dime-a-dozen fighter with the Flyers, levelled Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks with a cross-check to the face. That play came just two weeks after Steve Downie, another minor tough with the Flyers, concussed the normally peaceable Dean McAmmond with a flying elbow, putting the Ottawa Senator out of action for 10 games. This season, Ryan Hollweg, a spare-part agitator with Toronto, was suspended for three games following his third misconduct in nine months for boarding—essentially, hitting from behind. The Leafs forward has been branded a coward for those hits. But he is no shirker in the fisticuffs department, fighting 19 times in the two seasons leading up to his suspension.

So the theory that fighting limits dirty play doesn’t hold water. Nor does the idea that it protects ultra-talented players from the indignities of a rough game. In the last couple of weeks, NHL fans have been treated to the spectacle of superstars Sidney Crosby and Alexander Semin throwing punches after opponents crossed the line (Semin, who can be seen on YouTube, looks rather like an angry toddler). You can’t, evidently, have a thug riding shotgun all the time.

Still, the pro-fight lobby holds to its catechism, insisting the mischief would abate if enforcers were given more latitude. Their latest target is the so-called “instigator rule,” which they say emboldens cheap-shot artists by giving extra penalty minutes to players who pick fights to even the score. That would be a lot more persuasive if officials actually used the instigator rule. Since it was introduced in 1992, the number of infractions has steadily dwindled to about 50 per year, out of 1,230 games. Meantime, fighting has been booming following a post-lockout low of 466 in 2005-’06. At the current rate, 2008-’09 will end with 789 fights, or 0.64 fights per game, according to the website Hockeyfights.com. It is possible, as the foregoing numbers suggest, that 94 per cent of those fights will have been started by no one. But it’s a lot more likely that the league is trapped in a vicious cycle, where fighters are doing the cheap shots, the cheap shots are leading to more fights, and the officials have given up trying to stop them.

It is tempting under the circumstances to throw up one’s hands. “These are professionals, and they are adults,” notes Dave Morissette, a former enforcer who now provides NHL analysis on RDS in Quebec. But even Morissette, who fought relentlessly in the minors to get his shot at the NHL (11 games with Montreal), was shaken by the death of Sanderson—a player who like so many Canadian boys grew up idolizing NHLers. For Morissette and for others, qualms about fighting have always revolved around these younger players, whom he believes should be protected from the fighting culture until they are ready to turn professional. “I think they should get it out of junior hockey completely,” he says. “Let those players play hockey.”

Morissette’s reasons are rooted in psychology—the kind learned by one who must prepare mentally for a nightly maelstrom of fists. “In my first year of junior, I wanted to quit by Christmas,” he admits. “You don’t sleep at night, because you’re not thinking about hockey anymore. You’re just thinking about your fights. You’re 16 or 17, there are 2,000 people at the arena. There’s your teammates and your girlfriend and your dad in the stands and you really don’t want to get your ass kicked. So are you thinking about scoring goals? No. You’re thinking about that fight.”

The syndrome can carry a player to frightening depths. Morissette made waves four years ago by admitting in a book that he had taken steroids in order to match strength against the muscle-bound giants entering the league. Today he wonders what fury these behemoths will unload on their future victims. The same fears were on Ken Holland’s mind when the Detroit GM weighed in on the debate. “Some of these guys are six foot seven, six foot eight,” he told the Globe and Mail. “They weigh 245 or 250 lb. In the old days they were six foot one, 185 lb.”

Indeed, the dangers are plain to anyone who cares to look. Thirteen days after Sanderson’s death, Daniel Carcillo, a young forward with the Phoenix Coyotes, thumped his bare head against the ice in a fight with Vancouver’s Rob Davison, who stands six foot three and weighs 220 lb. “When I saw that,” says Michael Sanderson, “it sent a chill through me.” Carcillo escaped serious injury, but the following week, a minor-league forward playing for the Philadelphia Phantoms, the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate, suffered a seizure after falling helmetless into the boards during a fight, his legs shaking uncontrollably and his eyes rolling back in his head. He was kept overnight in hospital, but appeared to be recovering.

None of this appears to have fazed the NHL brain trust. “I don’t think there is any appetite to abolish fighting from the game,” commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters this week during All-Star festivities in Montreal. “I think our fans enjoy this aspect of the game.” Still, the league might take a harder look at fighting’s effect on its product. Far from encouraging rugged play, fighting and its concomitant urge for retribution have turned even clean hits into violations of the NHL’s supposed “code of honour.” A mid-ice hip check that 10 years ago would have been considered part of the game now induces a dreary round of shoving and scuffling. Star players who fans pay dearly to see are pulling up on their checks so as to avoid these scenes, while the Hollwegs and Downies roam around unchecked. A case can be made that fighting is actually making the game less tough.

The eye-for-an-eye mentality has also led to blowout incidents that have bruised the game’s reputation among prospective fans. Marty McSorly, after all, was trying to goad Donald Brashear into a fight in February 2000 when he swung a stick at the Vancouver Canuck’s head, resulting in a high-profile assault prosecution. Todd Bertuzzi’s infamous attack on Steve Moore in 2004 was payback for a hit on Markus Naslund, the Canucks captain, in a previous game between Vancouver and the Colorado Avalanche. That Moore had already answered the proverbial bell by fighting with Matt Cooke made the attack all the harder to fathom. If fights are any kind of safety valve, why do these dramas drag on?

The league’s answer to such questions is as familiar as it is blithe. “We believe we’re adequately and appropriately policing our own game,” Bettman said in the wake of the Bertuzzi incident. What the commissioner fails to grasp is that the rest of the world does not share its view of hockey as a self-governing kingdom. “Violence in sports is father to violence in everyday life,” said Judge Sidney Harris of the Ontario provincial court in 1988, setting down a precept the justice system has upheld ever since. The public appears to agree. In poll after poll, Canadians say they look upon hockey as a means to teach values like respect, discipline and grace under pressure. Fully 54 per cent of respondents to a Harris-Decima survey conducted last week said they oppose fighting in the NHL.

Here lie the moral contradictions the league cannot—will not—address. We teach our children that punching another person is no way to resolve frustration. Why is it thought reasonable in hockey? More to the point, is fighting not antithetical to the concept of athletic competition? What are rules and officials for, if not to prevent players from taking justice into their own hands? Why should they serve this purpose in other contact sports but not hockey? Football, to name just one, is a physical game, featuring 300-lb. men throwing themselves at each other at high speed. But head shots, blocks in the back, pushing your hands into an opponent’s face are deemed penalties. And if two players finally do lose their cool, the referees don’t stand back while they remove their helmets and start swinging. Perhaps Wayne Gretzky summed it up best: “Hockey is that only team sport in the world that actually encourages fighting. I have no idea why we let it go on.”

It’s not as though getting rid of it would be difficult. Automatic game ejections followed by escalating fines and suspensions would likely do the trick—not eliminating fisticuffs altogether but, as Sanderson says, making them ridiculous. Minor hockey associations did it long ago, reducing fighting to a few pathetic parodies in which players cuff each others’ face cages, gloves still on. As for the canard that old habits die hard, one need only consider the NHL’s own example: by near-universal opinion, the league’s crackdown on obstruction and stick offences has been a grand success. Like clockwork, the lower leagues have fallen into line, taking their cues from the pros and juniors. It was a clear demonstration, if any was needed, that a few rule amendments and some perseverance on the part of officials can change a sport for the good.

Sanderson, for one, doubts the hockey would suffer one bit if fighting were gone. He points to the Stanley Cup playoffs and world junior championship as series that feature next to no fisticuffs, yet offer some of the game’s most punishing physical play. “It’s open, it’s fast, and the referees let them play,” he says. “We watch because it’s exciting. We don’t watch it for the fights.” He’s been speaking these truths insistently but quietly, so as to avoid heaping guilt on Cory Fulton, the Brantford, Ont., player who was fighting Don Sanderson when he went down. “There’s another person to think about here,” he says. “Being a dad, and trying to be sensitive to both sides, it’s hard to speak out.”

But make no mistake: should Donald Sanderson’s death prove the turning point in this ancient debate, that would be just fine with his father. “At least we could say something good came out of it,” Michael says. “Right now, nothing’s good for me. I don’t have my buddy. I can’t see him, I can’t talk to him. There’s gotta be a reason for that. You can’t tell me the Lord took him for nothing, because he was just too good of a kid.”

Can we please now ban fighting in hockey?

  1. Re: “Can We Please Now Ban fighting in Hockey?”

    Charlie Gillis did us a big favour in explaining Michael Sanderson’s true position against hockey fighting, despite Don Cherry’s prattle.
    Now, let’s be clear about something else: hockey is already banned in hockey, with a system of weak penalties. The point is that it is not banned EFFECTIVELY.
    Penalties for fighting need to start with ejections, then move on to suspensions and, if necessary, dismissals and criminal charges.
    Boxing, wrestling and martial arts are the only sports that legitimately permit physical assaults.

  2. money : it’s always the answer. The rules already exist they just aren’t enfored. You want to stop fighting fine the owners 25,000 $ per glove dropped 50,000 $ per helmet removed 100,000 for any object used – within 6 months there would be no fighting.

    • that is a realy goood idea

  3. Bill Masterton died in the NHL due to a legal on-ice bodycheck. He is still the only NHL player to die in a game. Why can’t we ban bodychecking in hockey?

    The answer is the same answer we give for fighting. In a contact sport which thousands and thousands of young people play every winter, tragedies are going to happen. It’s a simple statistical reality and it’s the nature of playing a contact sport. Those who choose to play these sports should be made aware of the risk they’re taking, but that’s all.

    • Lord Bob,

      Tragic is when a player dies because of a legal bodycheck, because it’s within the confines of the rules of the game. When a player dies as a result of fighting, that is not tragic, because being against the rules, it is something that should have never happened in the first place.

      Hockey is a contact sport, and it must be as you have individuals travelling at highspeeds, chasing the same puck and so on and so forth. Even in women’s hockey you have incidental bumping and whatnot (which could be considered body checking), and I’m sure that when they’re chasing the puck that they throw their weight around a bit intentionally. But fighting? It’s easily avoidable, it’s just that SOME players cannot control their emotions and aggression properly or effectively. Not to mention the fact that there are players whose sole purpose on the team is to fight.

      You say that “it’s the nature of a contact sport”. Do football and rugby have these things? They are both contact sports, even moreso than hockey.

      • Every sport has its retribution at highly competative levels. Baseball has its beanball/spikes up slides, football all sorts of maiming (read Bill Romanowski’s autobiography), basketball–I guess has its primadonnas. Intersesting you should mention rugby. If you play dirty, believe me, you’re punished. Stiff-armers get their arms broken/shoulders dislocated by the tackler catching the stiff arm and using his full body weight to come down on the arm, hookers and props can break collar bones with their heads going into the scrum as well as breaking faces with fists of locked in forwards in the scrum. Seriously dirty players, once they have the ball, are pinned up by two tacklers while a third administers a hit that breaks his leg. I’ve played in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and I’ve seen it. Fighting? No. But there’s a price to be payed in all sports.

    • Masterton was not wearing a helmet!! Get your facts straight.

      • His facts are arrow straight. Bill Masterton died as a result of a legal hit.

  4. It isn’t money, except indirectly. Whenever there is a fight at the Air Canada Centre, there are more people on their feet than any other event. Fans love fights, say the owners.

    What I don’t understand is why acts on the rink are exempt apparently from arrest and prosecution. Ask one of the cops doing overtime the next time you are there.

    • Fans may love fights, but when there isn’t any fights, the fans do not miss them. Therefore, if this ridiculous activity was banned, it wouldn’t be missed, sort of like what happens in the playoffs, eh? Out of sight out of mind.

  5. At first I thought the picture to be none other than Jack Layton and Steven Harper.

    • this has nothing to do with it
      we are talking about hockey not pictures

  6. Thanks for playing Lord Bob.

    Masterton wasn’t wearing a helmet, and would not have died if he was wearing one.

    Still, your thesis is right, but only for those risks that are integral to the sport.

    Even if body checking averaged one death per one hundred thousand hits (I’m making these stats up, but you get my drift), body checking is integral to the game. It simply would not be the same game without it.

    Fighting, on the other hand, is an unnecessary distraction that causes death and bodily injury at a higher rate.

    • Fighting doesn’t cause death, it was one tragedy when a player lost balance and fell on his head… and it’s not unneccesary, it keeps players accountable, like another poster said, every sport has a way of keeping players accountable…….Bruce McKinnon, return the game to speed and talent?? first off there is still tons of speed and talent, it’s not like there are fights every 5 minutes and second, this is how the game has always been played, it wouldn’t return to anything else

  7. I fully agree with Charley Gillis. If the NHL wanted to stop fighting they quickly could. But as long as Bettman wants to cater to the unknowing in the US market and thinks fighting is the way to sell the game there fighting will be allowed. Having been involved in the game since the age of five including over ten years coaching I am disgusted with the NHL attitude in allowing the “goons”. Stop the fighting and return the game to the speed, skill and talent that make it the greatest game on earth. Until then I will continue to watch the World Junior Series for my hockey fix and boycott the NHL and their brand of “hockey”.

  8. Sure there were always a few fights in the NHL during the golden age of the origional six. These fights were few, and between guys who took care of their own business. Example: if you wanted to take a run at Gordie Howe you had to deal with Gordie Howe. After the game was taken over by Americans(Bettman), all that changed. The game has now been infested with hired goons who can neither, skate, stick handle, or score goals. They are only there to fight. Period. Bettman and his ilk thought that by turning the game into a WWF spectacle it would sell in the Southern States. That stategy has worked so well hockey now ranks behind bowling and women’s pro basketball and has no TV contract in place. His subborn insistance on keeping teams in places that have zero interest in hockey and keeping teams from migrating to Canada is leading the league to disaster. His only answer is to keep the mayhem coming. At some point Bettman will be gone, no doubt with a zillion dollar golden handshake. Hopefully no one else gets killed in the meantime. Hopefully there will be something left of the league at that point and this foolishness can be done away with.

    • “After the game was taken over by Americans(Bettman), all that changed. The game has now been infested with hired goons who can neither, skate, stick handle, or score goals. They are only there to fight. Period. Bettman and his ilk thought that by turning the game into a WWF spectacle it would sell in the Southern States.” -Wayne Moores-
      Seriously Wayne?? Are you seriously arguing there were no goons in the NHL prior to Bettman taking over running the league? Which NHL have you been watching? The one with the American conspiracy/anti-Canadian/pro-Southern States/all goons/all fighting/all the time policy? Wow. Enforcers are being replaced (and have been in recent history) with players who can not only fight, but can play as well. Wake up.

      • Bang on tater.

        It’s not up to Bettman, it’s up to the competition comittee; which is made up of the people who represent the people who acutally run the league. They don’t want it out. If you don’t like it, don’t watch.

    • Simply laughable. I just assume you’re provoking a response for fun. Otherwise, your cluelessness is stunning. Bettman may not be fixing anything but he sure as hell didn’t break it from a fighting perspective.

  9. Did you ever go to a NHL or junior games?

    If a fight occur on the ice, all people on the crowd stand and pay attention.

    Ban fight for NHL and junior games will not help that sport.

    • eHabs,

      People also stop and slow down when driving past a horrific accident on the highway…. Most people would say that’s kinda sick to want to see people get injured. It’s human nature, but that doesn’t validate fighting, just because people wanna see it. If we held public executions, I’m sure a lot of people would turn out to see them, but that doesn’t mean we should do so.

  10. I can’t help but feel that I must stress that hockey isn’t hockey without the fights.

    (I have always loved the Leafs, as usual, I am very disappointed with them at the moment. *Here’s to hoping this SLAP wakes them up* Yes I am ETERNALLY grateful for the winning streak♥)

    Seriously, without the fights, there’s no heart. These boys care so much about this damn game, they give it all they got. Huh? When you love something so much, it might not always bring out the best in you. Harsher punishments, may not work; it’s like asking the boys not to try so hard, not to care so much, I don’t know, the shucks oh well we tried (which will lead to… turning the game into a skills competition), they play and they are even willing to die, sadly because they love the game so much.
    And I love hockey because of this passion, I don’t want death, but since the ‘greed of upper management/the almighty dollar’ cannot be quelled, let us suffer and be graceful), Amen & RIP

    • Do you know how ridiculous that would sound if you replace the sport of hockey with any other sport (save for lacrosse)?

    • And add to my comment, is that to say that other athletes in other sports (including contact sports like football, rugby, etc) aren’t as passionate about their sport and/or winning/losing?

    • So the Georges Laraque-Brad May fight on Saturday night was about passion and heart and because they love the game so much.

      That’s just ludicrous.

  11. Bunch of apes. Just embarrassing….

    • yes i agree with you dave the game with fighting in it is just going to hurt to many people

  12. I quit watching NHL hockey because the fights dominated the game, the game highlights, the sports broadcasters highlights. If people want fights and blood let them watch the crap on TV.
    I now enjoy watching my grandsons play the sport for what it was meant to be, good skating and good shots. These are great games because fighting is banned. If we want to throw people to the lions we would have to want to go back to the dark ages. If we were to enforce the rules on fighting, after a while the fans mindset would evolve and once again they would appreciate the sport for what it was when first started by our native people and this was the way it was played in Europe until we destroyed their mindset.

    • Just curious. How lond have you watched hockey? You say you have a grandson, so I’ll suggest your in elevated years. Did you watch it in the 90s? Lots of fighting there, the 80s? Lots there too. The 70s maybe? Can’t be, tonnes there and bench clearing brawls. 60s, 50s? fighting, with fists and sticks. What great era should this great, used to be non-violent sport go back to?

  13. The argument is so weighted toward the idea of “banning fighting” as being some loss of manhood in the game that the NHL adopting the same standards as other pro leagues is impossible. Too many players, media personalities, and fans are afraid of standing on the opposing side of the argument with Don Cherry and the fallacious belief that hockey will collapse without it’s current fascination with two players holding each other jerseys and punching each other in the head.

    We have to start acknowledging that Cherry has resorted to gay-bashing and racism (to the extent that European hockey players are a “race”) to vilify those who have anti-fighting views, and many Canadians share that defect of character. I oppose fighting in hockey, and the gut-reaction of many Canadians will be to call me a “fag”, and that is of course prejudice, and that will show the defect of character of the Cherry-phile who cannot support his views without personal attacks.

    Until we acknowledge that fighting in hockey validates a need for Canadians to have take out some sort of aggression on each other, as a result of our inferiority complex as a nation (we are of course the United States’ kid brother) there remains the possibility of another tragedy to happen. Fighting opponents have no voice during the weekly religious service that we call Hockey Night In Canada: it is Cherry’s show through and through. Canadians are by and large trained like dogs to say “it’s part of the game, it sells tickets” without thinking about it. When the evidence is in, when doctors oppose it on medical grounds, when players start to die, Canadians are muzzled because they would rather seek the tacit approval of Don Cherry than to say they could live without it.

    And the fact that all the other major pro sports leagues in the U.S. have anti-fighting rules in place should be a sign that if Americans are going to embrace hockey, fighting has to go. Really, it’s calling a spade a spade.

    • Site your source. When has Don Cherry resorted to gay bashing?

      • Pardon me, Cite your source.

  14. I can’t fathom the people jumping on the bandwagon to ban fighting.
    I want to find the meekest, most mild mannered person on the face of the earth and let him lace them up and have a guy follow him around the ice antagonizing him with verbal taunts, face rubs, incredibly hard but legal body checks, little slashes to the wrists, ankles and back of the legs and then….witness the reaction with the other 20,000 screaming fans!!!! Eventually the Pope would take a swing
    Michael Sanderson probably played the game exactly the same way his son did and it is tragic that his son died.

    • No one said hockey isn’t for the thick skinned, but if you’re a PROFESSIONAL, you should be expected to be able to keep your emotions in check at all times, and if you don’t you face a stiff penalty (ie. multi-game suspension in the case of hockey, something that really means something in the terms of an 80 plus game season). Perhaps if players had more respect for one another then stuff like face rubs and little slashes wouldn’t be a problem. Trash talk is part of any sport. I don’t engage in it as I let my game speak for itself in whatever sport I play, but I know that jibber jabbering is going to happen.

    • To Dave…PLEASE give me a break. I have played hockey to the Junior C level during the heyday of fighting, but I was 5’8″ and NOT gonna win a fight, so when someone slashed, goaded, assaulted and antagonized, I ran him in the corner (cleanly), I hit him where I could (cleanly) and, yeah, I avoided fights. But there are LOTS of opportunities to express your emotions without dropping gloves.

      Let’s compare that to my time as a player in college football in the US. I got blocked, I got hit, I got tackled, and NOTHING that ever happened to me on the ice ever was worse that what happened to me on a football field…and I NEVER saw one fight in3 years of play. And while I like and respect our game, it does not compare to the brutality and violence inherent in football, depsite the speed of the game and the weapon in your hand the knives on your feet and on and on and on…yet fights in football happen as often as entertaining regular season NHL games…and NOT ONE hockey fan can explain that to me in a fashion that doesn’t come down to “hey…it’s hockey.”

      If all of the supporters of keeping fighting in the game with to just admit they like to watch fights, if the NHL just wants to admit that they use fighting to sell tickets, if the players who do it want to admit they lack the basic skill to play in a game without fighting, fine…in fact, I will respect them for their honesty. But don’t tell me that hockey possesses some degree of emotion, aggressiveness, speed, etc. that makes fighting an inevitable by-product. It’s a bogus argument; fighting is inherent in the audience, NOT the game.

      • Umm… re read my comment please… You just sort of agreed with everything that I said.

        • And as a sidenote, I totally agree with you…. The fans of fighting like to throw all sorts of reasons out there (protecting star players, self policing, etc, etc), and some of those reasons may hold a bit of merit, but at the end of the day, they’re not sitting at home watching hoping that someone takes out so and so because of a highstick on Crosby, or Ovechkin because they need to be protected. They’re sitting at home hoping that anyone (I repeat ANYONE) drops the gloves for any reason at all.

  15. I`ve asked this question over and over but no one seems to be able to answer it.can someone please tell me what age it becomes acceptable to start fighting in hockey ? it`s true and we all know it,that “hockey moms” are real,not just USA political sound bites.my mom ,God rest her soul, spent more than her fair share of Saturday mornings in freezing arenas for my brother and i to play.
    My mother was mortified when i was a kid,around 14,and got into an actual fight with another 14 year old.as she said then”she almost had a heart attack”.but it`s what i saw on tv and both the other guy and i thought that was what we were supposed to do.the other guys mom didn`t think so either.
    I guess my question is,when to moms become ok with standing there live ,watching what`s still to them,their baby, get the hell beat out of them ? when does it become acceptable ? i`ve seen mothers jump out onto the ice before when their “baby” was being beaten to a pulp.when exactly are these women supposed to stop being so stupid and accept the fact the child they carried for 9 months is about to be grieviously hurt ? just curious.

  16. Why don’t you all turn your attention to the fact that Canada is killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan ever day. As is the United States. People here are full of snippy comments calling people apes for fighting in hockey and all the while our army is in the midst of a war killing people at much faster rates than hockey fights. If you take the anger that stems from these people, then put it into the context that is a war, maybe there might be some form of stopping needless non-Canadian deaths. Or is that the qualification for caring about someone dying? You have to be from Canada or a Western country?

    • Can you say apples and oranges? People care about different things, and it’s natural for people to care more about what happens in their own backyard as opposed to half way around the world. Personally I care a lot about animal rights and animal abuse legislation, but I don’t bring it up here because it has no place in this conversation. You want to comment on the middle east, go find an article about it and comment there. You know what though? There are children in Africa that die at a higher rate than those in the middle east at the hands of Western armies… Perhaps you also care about the wrong thing. See how apples and oranges don’t mix?

      • It’s obvious people care about different things. It’s obvious to me that you have a chip on your shoulder about this subject in general. Apples and Oranges hey? I thought we were talking about a person dying while fighting in a hockey game and how some believe it to be no acceptable in today’s society. So I draw the parallel saying that today’s society is hypocritical in its nature because the country of Canada is killing people for no reason and yet fighting in hockey is brought to the same level or higher because it is in our own back yard per se. You know what though, if you personally are trying to change peoples minds on the subject you sure don’t know how to do it. All you are doing is attacking people on the subject and trying to make them look stupid. See how apples and oranges are both Fruits?

        • I’m not out to change anyone’s mind. Especially in the debate of fighting in hockey, as I know people already have their minds made up. I’m here to voice my opinion, and that’s about it. People can take it or leave it. If it changes someone’s mind, then that’s great, but it’s not my intention. Society is full of hypocricy because as I said people care about different things, and they’re entitled to those opinions. You may not agree with the things that people choose to care about, but I can guarantee you that no two people on this planet care equally about every single injustice that’s happening on the planet, so who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong in terms of the level of caring anyone has to any particular subject? And as I said, there are greater injustices in the world happening as we speak compared to what’s happening in Afghanistan and Iraq.

          • Canadians are killing innocents in Afghanistan every day? You are a complete moron. How many innocents are being killed by the Taliban and their scumbags? We are there to stop the killing of innocents. I suggest you check the news every day and let me know exactly every time a Canadian kills an innocent person there. That would be very few and far between. Innocents do die in wars. At least with our guys, it is not their target, such as it is with the scum we are fighting.

        • “So I draw the parallel saying that today’s society is hypocritical in its nature because the country of Canada is killing people for no reason and yet fighting in hockey is brought to the same level or higher because it is in our own back yard per se. ”

          a) If you think civillian deaths in Afghanistan have “no reason”, you have a strange way of attributing reasons. Innocents die in Afghanistan, I think there is no debate there. But the reasons for this are intractably complicated. This, I feel, is the apples/oranges aspect of the attempted “argument by analogy”. The reasons for fighting in hockey are easily stated and disputed; the situation in Afghanistan has so many more subtleties I find it easy to put them in two different camps – arguments by analogy only work when the analogies do. Is there really an effective analogy here? In fact, I’d argue you are hurting your own concern by attempting to compare the two in any way.

          b) I didn’t see a single word in the given article or comments that would put this on “the same level or higher” as the conflict in Afghanistan. It would seem to me that you were the first to make the connection and you did so only to sensationalize your own point. However valid your point may be, your manipulative approach in attempting to make it is to be decried.

          • Apologies – meant to reply to the post from which the quote was taken. But you probably figured that out. That is, of course, if you care. Which you probably don’t.

  17. The article brings up cheap shots that tough guys have administered over the years. Why are other incidences where the offended was not a tough guy not mentioned? Remember when Scott Niedermayer two-handed Peter Worrell over the head? Or when Pavel Bure elbowed Shane Churla in the teeth at high speed, one of those most vicious elbows ever? Curiously, the latter incident occurred because Churla and the rest of his teammates were harassing Bure (legally) and eventually he’d had enough. The point of this is not that fighting would have completely eliminated the borderline play. The point is that hockey is, with fighting or without, an incredibly violent sport in which the participants can legally play dirty. There is nothing stopping a team from targeting a star player, even trying to injure him, while remaining within the rules. Conversely, there is nothing in the rules that allows a team to protect its star players – you cannot, as in football, run interference (blocking). So essentially, any time a star player has the puck, an opposing player has full license to run him as hard as he can, possibly causing injury or aggravating an existing injury – remember when Gary Roberts and other of the Penguins were targeting Franzen’s shoulder? Taking fighting out of the game will not make it less violent unless a ban is accompanied by a ban on bodychecking. We could do that, or we could just accept that it is a violent game, and that if you want to make a living playing it, you have to be willing to put up with it.

    • harassing legally? hmmm, not sure about that

  18. In the second sentence of the above article, I meant to use the word ‘offender’, not ‘offended’.

    • Nice. Way to cite precidence Noam. Nobody mentions that becuase it’s only the “mouth breathers” and “knuckledraggers” and “apes” that cause the problems, remember?

  19. I totally agree with Bruce McKinnon and I must commend Charlie Gillis for a well-written article.

    I am a mother to 4 children with one son who played hockey from 8 – 17 yrs old. My husband and son (together) vs myself always argue about the fighting in hockey. As a mother who watched my son be the “enforcer” / “tough” kid on the team, I was always upset about what hockey had to offer him. Like every sport out there, the development of an athlete comes from every aspect of life — coaches, parents, teachers, friends, etc. Unfortunately, we can’t entrust that our kids are always in the best hands – we can only hope that the values and morals of everyone they look up to are similar to what you believe they should be for your child/ren which should include discipline, work ethic, respect and self-control.

    By promoting that fighting is just part of the game, we are creating individuals who will perceive fighting is a form of justice! Nothing seems to be done about any situation until someone has paid their lives for it! Why is that?

    Perhaps someone needs to do a thorough report on how many injuries have occured due to hockey? I’ll guarantee you that there are many! Out of all the injuries that a child will have suffered trying to reach a hockey dream, most will not succeed to be NHL players but rather they incur injuries that will effect their lives forever – be it mental, physical or emotional.

    • By promoting that fighting is just part of the game, we are creating individuals who will perceive fighting is a form of justice!

      This right here was the reason for my analogy, not to sensationalize. If Hockey teaches our kids that Fighting is a form of justice. Then on what level does a war teach our children that fighting is justice?

      • But the analogy doesn’t hold. If you think a unilateral withdrawl of all foreign forces from Afghanistan is as straightforward and impact-free as a fighting ban in hockey, I guess it holds. I’d beg to differ.

        Of course, I see where you’re trying to go with this, but with situations so fundamentally different in scope and complication, I don’t think you can get there down this street.

  20. Curious that a common argument is ‘there’s no fighting in football, basketball, etc.’, i.e. comparison to other North American pro sports . . . I would be curious to see stats on the prevalence of fighting in high-level leagues in Europe. For that matter, if stats how there is little or no fighting in those leagues, is there a proven greater incidence of ‘dirty’ play? (stickwork, hits from behind)

    Sadly, I think the groupthink going on amongst influential figures in hockey is just a sign of a very conservative and hidebound attitude, the old boys fearing being seen to be wrong about how exciting the game can be if its played ‘differently’ from how they used to play it.

    • What I don’t understand is why Canada has so many busy-bodies? Leave pro hockey alone! Next you’ll want to outlaw stink eye. Pro’s get big bucks to play a game they love; they can quit anytime and get a 9 to 5 job. For those who can’t stand the fighting, the tv’s loaded with alternative sports. Try MMA.

      • Have you actually read any of this thread?

        A player died due to an injury sustained during a fight. Yes, it was not an NHL player . . . but, we all know that lower level leagues emulate what they see in the top league. We can compare NHL to other professional sports where fighting is not tolerated . . . so why does the NHL lag?

        Personally I am interested in seeing good hockey, including a few good hits. Doesn’t need to be any fighting. Maybe there should be a red card type of approach.

        As for the busybodies comment . . . well, those advocating to keep fighting a part of the game are equally busybodies, in effect they are telling the world what the game needs or doesn’t need. My question is, since when are Don Cherry and his ilk the ‘owners’ of hockey? They’re entitled to their opinions, but for them to be close to credible, those opinions should be backed up by facts and data.

  21. “Perhaps Wayne Gretzky summed it up best: ‘Hockey is that only team sport in the world that actually encourages fighting. I have no idea why we let it go on.’”

    Why does Wayne have Daniel Carcillo, one of the fighting major leaders on his team? Why does he give him so much ice time? Why did Phoenix aquire Bryan McGrattan? Why did Wayne give it to Cal Clutterbuck for not taking off his visor when he fought the other night?

    • Easy…. You have to go with the flow of the current attitude of the league because you’re in it to win it. Not in it to do the right thing and get thumped all over the place along the way. He’s still got to do what’s in the best interests of his team given the current climate of the league. Currently that climate is that fighting is allowed and enforcers are encouraged.

  22. Can we now please start banning people who constantly talk about banning fighting in hockey? Please?

    • no we cant they have there own opinion on stuff you cant ban them from talking about it

  23. And who really cares if that guy died. I’m sure he would have died in a barfight or something anyway due to his obvious lack of pugilistic skills. If you can’t take care of yourself, then don’t get involved in fights. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. END OF STORY!

    • no it is not

  24. And what’s the deal with all the Leafs fans? Your team hasn’t even MADE it to the Finals since the league expanded past 6 teams. There is no colour footage of the Leafs hoisting the Cup. Mickey Mantle was still in pinstripes the last time the Leafs won the Cup.

  25. The word “fisticuffs”seems a little out of context when you’re discussing banning fighting after someone has died as a result of a blow.

  26. I simply don’t buy the argument that fighting is inevitable. I grew up watching my father and a lot of other family friends playing rugby every weekend, and I can count the number of fights I saw on two hands, and that included everything from high-school games to club-level to international friendlies. The difference was that everyone knew that they’d get tossed if they fought, and they’d grown up or learned the game in an environment in which fighting simply wasn’t tolerated.

    The other point I’d like to make is that we don’t do our junior players any favours by allowing fighting as a ‘safety valve’. People object that hockey is a ‘man’s game’, yet part of being a man is knowing how to control your temper and your actions. By *not* tossing junior players, we never teach them to control their emotions. Todd Bertuzzi might’ve been a different player today if he’d gotten tossed each time he lost it going back to his peewee days. We’re turning out junior players that are nothing more than overgrown children….

  27. Its all about money. The NHL still feels that the way to sell the game in the US is to emulate WWF(E)
    Want to stop the fighting ? Badger the sponsers. Let them know you are boycotting their products until they stop the stupidity. Hockey is the most entertaining sport in the world; fast, lots of scoring, physical play, and passion
    But the fighting keeps it from being accepted by the mainstream sports fan who wants their kids to play a sport they are interested in. Who dreams of their kid getting beat up while trying to learn how to play a sport ???
    My observation is that 99% of the proponents of fighting have never, ever played the game at a high level and don’t have a clue about what fighting costs the sport.

  28. Not sure if I posted this on another site or not, but the real problem with hockey (which has lead us to accepting fighting) is lack of respect for one another amongst players and coaches. It is well documented that coaches will send out players specifically to HURT (many times via cheapshot) players on the opposing team as a strategic ploy. It is often the coaches who are enouraging such dispicable behaviour. As a player with a role to fill, and having come up through the minors where the same thing happens, what are you to do? Follow orders or never get any play time, which will eventually lead to unemployment in the league?

  29. fighting is fine in hockey it makes hockey hockey so think you people that think fighting is not right in hockey are aholes and can go to hell and thats what I thick

  30. I think hockey should be allowed because hockey is an aggression sport with out fighting hockey is basically ringette but proper hockey sticks. if there were no hockey fights the crowed wouldn’t be pumped and excited if there was fighting in hockey i dont think they should have hockey then at the Toronto Marlies game I was really excited about the fight i was so happy i almost punched my friend in the face.

  31. fighting should not try to be band because its a part of the game there obviously will be injury’s but life goes on and even if you try to band fighting I garentie that the players will still fight because that’s what happens.

  32. It saddens me to see us all arguing about fighting in hockey.

    Meanwhile the game we love is slowly ebbing from the North American consciousness. And fighting is partly to blame.

    I live in Houston now, and still play the game once in a while, but most of my friends here could care less about hockey. Their perception is that hockey is about fighting first; that’s all they hear about. It’s not something they want to take their kids to watch, let alone play. Those who are truly interested in fighting watch UFC, Boxing or WWF.

    It’s is a shame, because with the rule changes, hockey is even more exciting than ever.

    Hockey has largely disappeared from the airwaves here, but you can still catch the occasional game on network TY. I laughed a few weeks ago when during the game the results of an on-line poll were displayed showing that 80% of viewers supported fighting. Of course they do – only the people who like fighting are still watching! Everyone one else has moved on.

    It’s time for the NHL to stop fighting and move on too.

  33. As long as you have the old boys club running the NHL you’ll have fighting. As long as former players, like Gretzky, are tied to the league you’ll have fighting because they grew up in the culture of hockey that encouraged fighting. Unless strictly enforced or unless a horrible tragedy occurs in the NHL, this change will occur slowly over time. Take a look at the fights in the NHL, especially in the Western conference. Go on the NHL website and see how many occur within the first 10 minutes, let alone the first 5 minutes. Score is still 0-0, I would imagine that the teams don’t need a boost of “energy” that the pro-fighting lobby claims this early in the game, and even though I haven’t seen the game, I doubt a star player got run over. Who cares if everyone is on their feet when a fight happens? I’d be on my feet watching a fight if it happened at work too, but it doesn’t make it right. We don’t need fighters to eliminate the dirty hits, we need a league that actually has some teeth and gives out harsh penalties for flying elbows, swinging sticks and knee-hunting. None of these guys wants to lose a paycheque and they’d cut out these antics. Do the same to fighting and watch the game open up. I’m curious to know if the pro-fighting lobby turned off their TV sets when Canada plays in the Olympics or when our juniors have been routinely beating the world the last 7 years because it’s a “sissy” brand of hockey, since it lacks fighting.

  34. In all the arguments about stopping fighting in hockey, I have never heard the following point of view. Hockey, at the major league level, is a business with a workplace. The hockey players are the workers who work for the owners of their team or company. Most jurisdictions have laws such as Ontario’s Workplace Health and Safety Act.

    this provincial law states that the employer must provide a safe work place for its workers. If they don’t, they could be fined, and management personnel responsible for this “failure to provide” could go to jail.

    So I ask, where is the players union in this argument and why are they not demanding a safe work place? Where is the management of each team, not providing a safe workplace? And lastly, where is the Department of Labour of each jurisdiction, not stepping in and investigating each broken bone, concussion, and disabling injury or death to “the workers” in this company-owned business called hockey?

    The voters of this country have demanded and received laws to ensure safe and healthy workplaces. Why is it that the hockey “workplace” is exempt?

    John Morrison
    Wawa

  35. all of you that think fighting should be banned from hockey need to find a new sport to watch if they have such a problem with it. If people want to fight let them if you want something to complain about then go talk about the government or some shit cause this is stupid it has been in the game for years and it always will be (or should be).

  36. Sign a petition against fighting – BanHockeyFights.com

  37. Don Cherry and NHLers of like mind should be allowed to fight all they want – in Afgahnistan.
    Here in Canada, fighting is not condoned by society. “Fighters on the ice” should be charged the same as those “fighters on the street”: minimally with disturbance of the peace, if not attempted murder. Considering the number of witnesses and the amount of taped evidence, convictions should be no problem. (Guess we need to build more prisons.) To bad the great talent and sportsmanship of hockey is drowned out by “the goons”. You want to see a good fight, go to a boxing match. Let hockey to those who love life.
    Also very curious is why the CBC continues to promote violence in Canada by harbouring and supporting Don Cherry. Don Cherry with his misfit ideas on sports makes for a sad idol for our youth. I guess that’s how you get when your brains are knocked about too much. Ron, my condolences to you that you have to work with that guy.

  38. If fighting is banned in the NHL then I will stop watching.

  39. Hockey has been around for years and there has always been fighting in it. One person dies in a fight and now people want to ban fighting from hockey completely? It was a freak accident, come on its not very likely to happen again and fighting has been a part of the game since the start, it would be like taking a chunk out of the game. Plus its entertaining and the fans love it.

  40. i think that this article is bad because it says that canadians don't listen but some do so that one reason and another reason is Don Cherry dosen't have issues i think that he is a man with an opinion and that most people and Nhlers think that fighting is essential

  41. more in portantly about me

  42. Guys, if you do not like fighting you are free to turn off the TV or look away. It is part of the game, please deal with it. In the hundreds of years of the game, there has been ONE death from fighting. It was bound to happen at one time or another.

    This is how you can clean up the game:
    - Eliminate the intigator rule. This will stop the staged fights and allow the fighters to go after the Downies who play dirty. When the Downies get their *ss kicked, they will tone down. Self-policng is the way to go. The people that think charges should be laid scare me. These are two willing combatants – when people fight on the streets no one gets charged unless it was one person against another who did not want to engage.

    The playoffs always feature intense scraps. Look at Zetterberg and Malkin from this past year. Iginla vs Lecavalier in 04. Great battles.

  43. Only cry babbies fight. WAAAHH, you bumped me !!! Football players are hit on every single play. Quarterbacks get cheap shots and hit hard, yet no enforcer has to step in to avenge him. Fighting is just a silly thing that has been allowed to entrench itself into the game. I love hockey, but turn the channel or leave my seat if a fight starts, because I know it's going to be another 5 minutes before I get to see the hockey game start back up.

  44. I really feel for Michael. his pain has got to be awful. Kids die often playing sports, normally however the death is caused by some heart defect that goes undiagnosed. This man's son died in an sport that is barbaric. The joke goes "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out". I think it is time.

  45. The truth is that Hockey has lost all sense of the sportsmanship I feel it once contained. Now it is mainly about the fighting and staunchly defended by many, because that is where the media has deliberately directed it, for the very same reason that it will be difficult to ban…..because hockey is not about sports any more. It’s about money, and those greedy, selfish idiots that have ruined the game, really couldn’t care less about who is maimed, injured, or killed.
    The truth is that fighting should not only be banned from the sport, but those that continue to indulge in the ‘shame of the game’ should be removed from the game for life.
    Let them find a job in the real world because none of them are worth that much, and they are all over-paid any way you look at it.
    Oh, and one more thing…..You suck Don Cherry. Climb down out of your cloud. 

  46. Are you Serious?? first of all there are few great players in the nhl last year we only had one 50 goal scorer (Cody Perry) your two first lines will be good but third and forth will be what? you need enforcers to hit and enforcers will hit your superstars it is why you need a Goon to protect them! its a part of the game and always was it should not change its not dangerous!! if fighting was so bad for you then we should ban boxing and ufc to right? seriously we love it players like it does who dont want to fight dont have to drop gloves.. if you have no goon then teams will play hard and give dirty n big hits Example: (Boston vs Mtl) not only should it not change for us who (major % of the fans) love it for the players who like it, the strategy  in the game (part of the show) ok will surely not be as entertaining without fights and the Nhl would lose not only alot of fans and that means money alottt of it so trust me it wont happen and it shouldn’t happen (why change tradition) you and the few FAGS who want to take out fighting should get beat up!! 

  47. no one ever died from a fight in the nhl.

  48. I won’t watch Hockey until the fighting is stopped.  If you were at home
    or outside and punched someone you would get charged by the police. 
    It’s disturbing that there’s even a debate about this. I love watching
    skilled athleticism.  I always change the channel when Hockey comes on
    because I don’t want to see or support the violence.

  49. We emigrated to Canada 35 years ago and we lived in Nottingham England, we used to go and watch hockey in Nottingham and were big fans of the Nottingham Panthers Hockey team. When we decided to move to Canada we were very excited as we would, as we thought, go and see a real game,  the hockey played in England was a game of real skill and was a joy to watch, We came to Canada and went to a REAL professional game and saw fights all the way through, it was disgusting and have never been to another game since we came , if we had wanted to see a fight scene we would have gone to see just that .

    I really think that England could teach you people a few things of how hockey should be played.

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