- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Blackhawks players chimed in Thursday about the recent NHL fighting debate and resoundingly said they were in favor of keeping it in the game.
NHL front office personnel, general managers, coaches and players have been sharing their varied opinions about whether the league should remove, alter or leave alone fighting over the last few days following a head injury suffered by the Montreal Canadiens' George Parros during a fight on Tuesday.
“That’s tough, tough, tough [to remove fighting,]” Quenneville on Thursday. “It’s been a part of it forever. You got to be careful about taking out rules. Then you see all these things you never thought about. I think there’s always been deterrents to eliminate fighting. [It’s] to a different level every season. But at the same time, I think you keep it the way it is.
“I think you can look at what if, what if and what if. I just think there’s a certain amount of policing that goes on with having fighting in the game.”
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has never been in an NHL fight, but he also thought fighting had a purpose in the game and shouldn’t be changed.
“I don’t think it needs to be banned,” Kane said. “There’s obviously going to be people who talk about this after an incident that happened with Parros the other night. It definitely has a place to the point where we believe it’s a big part of the game. It keeps the game in order.
“Whether it’s a hit or doing something cheap on the ice, players don’t want to do that because they’ll have to stick up for themselves and have to fight. You see it more often today where there aren’t too many staged fights and more fights if a guy gets hit, OK, we’ll go after that guy because he made a hit on our skilled guy or something. It kind of puts a stamp on what happened and you move on from it. I think it kind of keeps the game in order. I think if you ask any player, they want to keep fighting in the game for that reason.”
Brandon Bollig is known as the main enforcer on the Blackhawks and sees it as his job to fight opponents when they take perceived cheap shots on players like Kane.
“I think you have to keep guys honest,” Bollig said. “You provide that security and protection for your team.
“There’s obviously danger every night when you go out there and risk maybe getting knocked at any instance and going out there and fighting like that. But there’s a place for it in the game. You got to keep guys honest and give certain guys roles who might not have as much skill as other guys. It’s obviously unfortunate when things like that happen. No one intends for that to happen. Luckily, George is okay. But I think there’s a definitely a part in the game for it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m lucky there is.”
Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw also has come to his teammates’ defense in the past. He said Friday he thought the game would get more dangerous if fighting was removed.
“I don’t think they can ever get rid of it,” Shaw said. “It’s part of the game. It’s always been there. My opinion is they should never get rid of it. Then you got guys targeting skilled players, better players on teams. You wouldn’t have to face a big tough guy the next shift. I think it’s something that won’t change in the game.”
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was unavailable for comment on Thursday.