USA Hockey Magazine

October 2014

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32 PHOTOS BY Getty Images OCTOBER. 2014 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM With An Eye On Safety, Some In Hockey Look To Put Fighting In A Neutral Corner T o some it's the best part of the game. To others it's an unnecessary distrac- tion from the action on the ice. Regardless of the stance, fighting has been a part of the game since the days of Eddie Shore and old time hockey. Despite the sport's historic proclivity for fighting, there are continual questions of its value to the game, the risks involved to its competitors and just how much of it should be tolerated, or if it should be at all. The debate in the court of public opinion has intensified in recent years as more is known about the effects of repeated head trauma on the human brain. It is with an eye on safety that USA Hockey's board of directors voted in June to stiffen penalties for fighting in Junior hockey. In the United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League, players who fight will be assessed an automatic 10-minute misconduct on top of the traditional five-minute major. It is a significant change that is viewed not as an outright ban on fighting, but as a significant deterrent. "We want to eliminate the behavior that leads up to [a fight] and clear out behavior that is just fighting — staged fights, going after a guy after a clean hit, heavyweights squaring up," said Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director for Hockey Operations. "None of that has a place in the game anymore, especially at the Junior level. We've got to get rid of that acceptance level, and the only thing that does that is deterrence." By CHRIS PETERS PULLING A PUNCH While fighting remains part of the NHL game, the number of altercations has declined in recent years.

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