Steve Yzerman among GMs calling for tougher fighting penalties
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told TSN’s Darren Dreger that he believes that NHL GMs, executives and the NHLPA need to take a firmer stance on fighting and work for its eventual elimination. Yzerman suggests raising the penalty for fighting to a game misconduct.
“Yes, I believe a player should get a game misconduct for fighting,” Yzerman told The Dreger Report. “We penalize and suspend players for making contact with the head while checking, in an effort to reduce head injuries, yet we still allow fighting.
“We’re stuck in the middle and need to decide what kind of sport do we want to be. Either anything goes and we accept the consequences, or take the next step and eliminate fighting.”
The Hall of Famer has seen his share of fighting, playing alongside such enforcers as Joe Kocur, Darren McCarthy and Bob Probert. Yzerman isn’t the only NHL GM who believes that the NHL should focus less on making fighting safer and more on its total elimination.
When asked if the league and players should stop trying to make fighting safer and focus instead on banning fighting in general, Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said, “We’ve got to get rid of fighting, it has to go.”
Rutherford said he would support an open and full discussion on additional penalties such as a game misconduct for fighting – with a significant suspension for any player, for example, who fights multiple times in a season.
Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero has been a strong advocate of the league’s crackdown on checking to the head. He believes that the NHL has a responsibility to consider a ban on fighting and not just simply raise the discussion when an isolated incident happens.
“It won’t happen overnight, but we need to be leaders, not followers in this area,” he explained. “I respect other GMs and their views, but we need to look at this and not just when an incident like last night [with Parros] happens.”
After reading the quotes from these three NHL executives, it didn’t take long for one of the game’s most celebrated builders to chime in.
“I support views of Steve Yzerman, Ray Shero and Jim Rutherford on their opinions for addressing most fighting issues,” tweeted the legendary Scotty Bowman on Wednesday afternoon. “Poll all Players.”
The concussion that George Parros suffered when he hit the ice face-first during a fight with Toronto’s Colton Orr on Tuesday night brought NHL fighting to the forefront again. Parros has been released from a Montreal hospital.