Every NHL designated tough guy drops their gloves for a reason and there are too many fights to try and understand the motivation of each and every one. But sometimes the reason doesn’t make any sense and can help highlight why the “accountability” argument should be dismissed. The quote below is from Brian Burke, excerpted from an NHL Insider column published in 2009. (The full article can be found here.
"When I was playing in the American (Hockey) League, I went after a guy in a game who speared me two years before that when I was playing university hockey. Anyone upstairs can say it was a staged fight - well it wasn't a staged fight," Burke said. "I was going to get this guy and I was going to get him the first time I was on the ice with him. After the incident he yelled at me and said, 'What was that all about?' I said to him, 'You got me two years ago and I didn't get a chance to get you for two years.”
So that is why we defend fighting? So players can hold grudges for two years and dole out some payback when they get a chance. I suspect that Burke’s target was immediately embarrassed about his spearing, once it was explained to him what the fight was all about, and that he never thought about doing it again.
The whole accountability thing doesn’t make any sense to me. The players should focus on playing the game and let the referees handle the policing. The referees are far less likely to penalize someone because they just laid a good hit on a star player, or because they thought someone did something “against the hockey player’s code” a couple of weeks ago.
It’s not part of the game.