Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Hockey Fans Are Tired of Hockey Fights

After watching another pointless hockey fight, one in which Zac Rinaldo stunned B.J. Crombeen and left him dazed on the ice, I spent some time searching Twitter for tweets on hockey fights.  I was impressed that there were numerous comments from fans who wanted to see fighting eliminated from the game.   But I wonder what impact those tweets have without direction.

Last summer I received some excellent suggestions from Jim Dwyer, who has his own blog called Hockey (and Donuts).   His ideas all involved asking fans, who love the game but hate fighting, to take some action and communicate to the NHL and NHLPA their displeasure.  I think the key to achieving a small measure of success would be to keep it simple so people don’t have to make a huge commitment to sending a message.  It would also be important to make sure that other fans are aware that not everyone thinks two semi-skilled players pounding each other in the head is not part of hockey.

Here are a couple of methods for communicating to the league and other fans.  Both are easy to accomplish and require little effort to be effective.  While it may seem like a futile effort, just lonely old you against a mob who are cheering for every punch thrown, as long as the action is consistent I believe others will join in.  It will take time but as long as we each invest a few seconds at the opportune time then eventually it will become noticeable and gain momentum.

If you are on Twitter…

…and watching hockey when a fight breaks out then send a tweet.  Make sure that you address it to the NHL (@NHL) and add the hashtag #itsNotPartoftheGame.  The league has to get these messages in order to understand how many fans want to see action.  They also need to care about the message but that will naturally happen once they get concerned about the amount and/or tone of the tweets received.  The hashtag will allow all non-fight fans to search for similar tweets and tie all of us together as a support group.  It also enables the league and sports media to do the same.  Add @NHLPA if you have room because the players also have a responsibility to protect the game, and each other.

Some samples:

@NHL @NHLPA Scott Vs Thornton but don’t worry, no one gets hurt in a fight  #ItsNotPartoftheGame

@NHL Ben Eager suffers a concussion in a fight.  Is the Department of Player Safety looking at that head shot?  #itsNotPartoftheGame.

You can also retweet other messages that you think the NHL should see, and add your own commentary:

@NHL a head shot is not always a head shot? RT @EyeOnHockey This Zac Rinaldo-B.J. Crombeen fight is pretty brutal: #itsNotPartoftheGame

If you send the tweet to both the NHL and NHLPA, and add the hashtag #itsNotPartoftheGame, then you have to be pretty succinct and creative with the remaining 104 characters.  Have fun with it but don’t get abusive or too emotional.  Just make your point.

If you are at the arena…

…and a fight breaks out then just sit down.  Don’t stand up and don’t cheer.  If you’re feeling a little more revolutionary then engage in some booing or yell, “Let’s play hockey”.  If someone nearby asks you why you aren’t standing and cheering then tell them, “It’s not part of the game”.  You don’t have to evangelize the cause, unless you want to, but don’t be part of the pack-mentality that breaks out when two players drop the gloves.   Just sit down.

If you want to take more aggressive action then please read my post from last April – Take Back Our Game.  I’ve presented some ideas on how to communicate with the league, or other fans, and how we can create awareness that we would like to see fighting reduced or eliminated.  The post includes some contact info for the league and player’s association and some tips on how to structure the message.

The pro-fighting fans are far more vocal than those who think fighting is not part of the game.  But I believe that they are not necessarily in the majority, just louder.   Therefore we need to speak both clearly and often that the time has come for the NHL and NHLPA to take action and implement tougher rules.  The league needs to hear that a sizeable portion of their fan base would like to see change.  Let’s start with the easy stuff, like sending a tweet or sitting down.


  1. It takes real courage to stand up to the voices you hear over and over whenever this subject is brought up, so cheers to you. It is insane that this has become the culture of this great sport. For those not convinced this should even be debated, I would be interested in what they say after seeing at the NYT times piece on Derek Boogaard:

  2. The pro fighting camp are exactly of the same ilk as the Tea Party, creationists, and global warming deniers. In the face of facts, logic and common sense, they stick to the same nonsensical mantra.