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Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Bruins president Cam Neely on fighting

By Joe McDonald

WHAT WOULD THE NHL LOOK LIKE WITHOUT FIGHTING?

Listen, I respect everybody's opinion about our game, but it's a little different when you’re on the ice and you have a stick in your hand. That’s the thing that’s different than any other sport is what you can do with your stick, maybe a little bit behind the scenes. It’s hard to say, but my guess is stick work will pick up and there will be a lot more guys that’ll be a little braver, a little tougher.

DO YOU GET A SENSE THE TIDE IS TURNING AGAINST FIGHTING?

Listen, I don't believe in staged fights, I don’t like them, never have. I don’t believe in a fight resulting because of a good, hard, clean bodycheck. You see that a lot and I don’t understand that either. I can understand if somebody hits somebody in a position they shouldn’t, but when it’s a good, clean, hard bodycheck, there shouldn't be a need to come over and protect your teammate. The player that gets hit should take the number, like the old days, just take the number of the truck that just hit you. I still believe there are things that happen on the ice that you want the other player to be held accountable. Two minutes in the box, and I’ve heard some people say, "Well, a good, clean, hard bodycheck will do the number." Well, it won’t do the number. I still believe there’s a place in our game for it. I think it’s a skill set that there are players out there that can play, but also have that intimidation factor that if they get pissed off and drop their gloves, it’s going to make an impact on the game.

WHAT WOULD FANS THINK IF FIGHTING WAS BANNED?

My guess is the majority of the fans like it in our sport. We all know the risks. The players certainly know the risks. Any player that laces up their skates knows the risks of playing the game. Our fans, I think, love the physical part of our sport, whether it’s a good bodycheck or a fight that resulted from two guys being upset with each other. I have no idea if they were to take it out what the reaction would be from the fans.

IF FIGHTING WAS BANNED, HOW WOULD IT EFFECT THE BRUINS STYLE OF PLAY AND SUCCESS?

We have to play physical to be successful. That’s the way we’re kind of built and that wouldn’t change. We’d play physical and create our chances that way. The intimidation is gone. It’s a little different feeling when you’re worried about someone punching you in the face. Unfortunately, it may result in someone slashing you in the arm or in the back of the leg, which still happens, but there’s still that fear of accountability that I believe is a part of our game.