Trevor Linden, the President of Hockey Operations for the Vancouver Canucks, isn’t the biggest supporter of fighting in the NHL. Based on his comments seen in an interview with The Province, it actually sounds like he’s in favor of moving the league away from fighting.
Here are Linden’s comments after he was questioned about his views on the role of fighting:
“Fighting is supposed to be there to protect our top players. I’m not sure it has that effect. I think that happened in the ’70s and ’80s, but I think that ended when the game progressed. I don’t speak for every fan, but I think there are a lot of fans out there who don’t understand the staged fight. Within the context of the game it isn’t relevant. Everyone loves playoff hockey and we saw incredible games in these playoffs. It was hard-hitting, fast and intense. And, generally speaking, fighting isn’t part of playoff hockey.
Some of the best parts of our game are the hitting and clean body contact. The reaction now is to go after that guy. I don’t know what the answer is but we have to look at it. I’m open to having the conversation but I think we have to look at being progressive. I think (Tampa Bay Lightning GM) Steve Yzerman shares the same views. I know it’s not popular with some people.”
Linden has a solid argument which is usually shared by those against dropping the mitts. The game has certainly changed over the last few decades and playoff hockey traditionally is extremely exciting and scrap-free. He also correctly points out how ridiculous and annoying it is to see a player dish out a strong, legal hit and be forced to drop the gloves as a result. Nearly every crunching hit is met with some sort of unwarranted tousle.
It’s also pretty interesting that he mentions Steve Yzerman and the need to be progressive. The movement to remove fighting is the minority and recent surveys have suggested that as many as 98% of the players want to keep fighting in the sport. However, it may be telling that former players such as Linden and Yzerman are opposed and that they feel the need to push the sport beyond the scraps. More may soon join the cause.
Remember this story. The push to curb fighting in hockey seems to be gaining strength each year. It may be a while before it’s eliminated completely, but it’s clear that former players are trying to transform the NHL as we know it.