Hockey Fans React to USHL Fighting Story
Nothing stokes the flames of passion among hockey fans quicker than a discussion on fighting in the sport.
After an incident last weekend at a USHL game in Cedar Rapids, where a player had full-body seizures and was hospitalized after hitting his head on the ice during a fight , I wrote a piece repeating my call for a ban on fighting in junior hockey.
The response to the story was mixed.
Lee Van Ruler e-mailed me at Jeff@ESPN991.com:
There should never be a ‘joke’ about ‘I went to a fight, and a hockey game
broke out’. Personal observation to stop the fighting (all sports): 1st
offence – immediate rejection from the game, Coach sits in the penalty box
(hockey); 2nd offence, player ejected and serves 5 game suspension, coach
spends a night in jail; 3rd offence, player banned, coach spends week in
jail. It may be harsh, but the end result would be a cleaner game and the
talent would come to the top. The players and fans need to understand that
life cannot be resolved in the office, on the line at any job, etc. by
fighting and physical altercation. Are we trying to take players to the next
boxing match – or attempting to make them solid citizens in our community?
Sounds kind of harsh – but I have a feeling that the fighting would cease
Other fans weighed in on the ESPN 99.1 Facebook page.
From Tyler Soyer:
Let it happen its part of the game some are trying to go to the pros some are trying to college…
…Don’t drop the gloves if you can’t handle the consequences that may occur…
…it’s part of hockey, that’s what the sport has been known for to have happen, I think you can’t allow it to high school kids but if you did limit it to where its with helmets and gloves on…
…its a known thing in hockey, that’s what hockey has been known for is the fights, its not allowed in Olympics because it is almost like an all-star game, I think it should be allowed in college, I would say if its not a high school sport and some sort of semi pro or collegiate it should be allowed in hockey, how else can you get ready for the pro’s?
From Jon Witkop:
It’s part of the game. If you take away the fighting, you get a lot of chippy, cheap shot kind of plays that you see at the college level that also result in injury. Unfortunately, stuff like this happens, but it is rare; and when it does happen, stuff like this try to play the ‘I told you so’ role.
How about we take tackling out of football? After all, that has been known to seriously injure players and cause life long issues as well. And since we are going that far, no more jumping in basketball. I mean Kevin Ware’s injury during the NCAA tournament last year was one of the more gruesome injuries in recent memory.
The worst kind of injuries in hockey don’t happen from fighting. They happen when a player gets cut by a skate. Just ask our own Zack Redmond how that goes. If you want to see a picture of just what a skate can do, here’s a link for you.
There’s a time and a place for fighting in hockey. You don’t have to like it but it does help keep the game clean.
Here’s my original story ‘Ugly USHL Incident is a Reminder Why Fighting Should be Banned’:
It started out as something all too commonplace and quickly turned into something very scary.
Midway through the second period of Saturday’s USHL game featuring the Dubuque Fighting Saints and the Cedar Rapids Roughriders at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, Saints defenseman Dylan Chanter squared off to fight Roughriders forward Corey Petrash.
But what began as just another hockey fight escalated to a medical emergency in the blink of an eye, when the players tumbled to the ice, and Chanter, who had lost his helmet during the scuffle, smacked his head on the frozen surface.
The crowd at ‘The Stable’ that stood and cheered the brawl was quickly silenced when the 18-year old Chanter began to have full-body seizures for an agonizing two minutes. He remained down on the ice for 15 minutes before paramedics arrived to transport him to the hospital.
The game was suspended.
Monday, USHL Commissioner Skip Prince issued a statement on the incident that read, in part:
We at the USHL are grateful to report that Dylan Chanter is now back in Dubuque, resting comfortably, after being released late Saturday evening from the University of Iowa Hospitals. Mr. Chanter’s medical care was rendered professionally and expertly from the moment of the injury by a series of medical providers, who I would like to thank on behalf of the League: by the trainers of both teams and the supervising physician present at the game (per USHL rules); by medical personnel at UnityPoint Health/St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, where he was transported by ambulance; and finally at the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City, where he was airlifted in order to be examined by appropriate specialists…
…We want to face squarely the questions that have arisen as to the circumstances that caused the injury – that is, that Mr. Chanter and a Cedar Rapids player were engaged in a short altercation, with the injury occurring when both players fell and Mr. Chanter’s head hit the ice. The injury was the accidental and unintended outcome of an infraction that resulted in a fighting major penalty to both players…
The statement points out that the league, in conjunction with USA Hockey and the NHL, has implemented a ‘comprehensive Player Safety Initiative’ designed to reduce dangerous play in a number of areas, including, but not limited to, fighting.
The initiative includes video reviews and ‘progressively increasing discipline’ for bad behavior, but is stunningly silent on the issue of seeking to eliminate one of the most ‘dangerous’ aspects of the game itself – fighting.
When people are allowed to take part in an activity when it’s acceptable to wail on each other, someone is bound to get hurt. All of the ‘after the fact’ video reviews and suspensions don’t attempt to stop the problem before it starts.
The commissioner has asked the USHL Competition Committee to investigate the incident, and league rules, in an attempt to determine how to reduce the possibility of something like this from happening again.
He then touts the USHL’s low number of fights compared to other top tier leagues (about .45 fights per game – or about one every two and a half games).
While I commend the Commissioner’s desire to be proactive and examine the issue more closely, quoting fight stats is missing the point.
Some fighting is still a far cry from no fighting, and the ‘it could be worse’ mentality misses the bigger picture.
Back in April, I wrote a piece called ‘Time to Stop the Fighting in USHL Games’. In it, I reminded fans of a couple of key things:
1. These are (for the most part) high school aged kids who should be held to the same standards of any other high school aged sport.
2. Most of the players in the USHL are in the league to try land a college hockey scholarship. Guess what is outlawed in college hockey? Fighting!
Would Dylan Chanter’s injuries been as severe if his helmet hadn’t been dislodged? Probably not.
Is the continued tolerance of fighting in the USHL responsible for the severity of the injuries in this case? Yes. Keep in mind, Chanter’s helmet did not come off in the course of normal game action. It was knocked off during an altercation.
Will outlawing fighting eliminate injuries in hockey? Of course not. But in a hard hitting and fast paced sport like hockey, aren’t there already enough other opportunities for players to get hurt in the course of regular game action?
Let me know what you think.
E-mail me: Jeff@ESPN991.com