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Question of the Day: Should the NHL do anything about fighting after the report that Bob Probert also had CTE?

March 3, 2011 |  1:26 pm

Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times

It's too simplistic to say the NHL should ban fighting in the wake of the Boston University School of Medicine Study that former NHL enforcer Bob Probert had a degenerative brain disease. As the study directors themselves said, it's too early to say this is an indictment of fighting. Concussions result from actions other than fighting and the first step should be to ban all blows to the head, not just the limited restrictions the NHL recently imposed by punishing blindside hits or hits in which the head is the principal point of contact.

Bob Foltman, Chicago Tribune

If not now, when? Despite what many want to believe, fighting is not a part of hockey and banning it would not be an attack on hockey's culture. It's a senseless sideshow that seldom if ever affects a game. And it's dangerous to those who do it repeatedly. Bob Probert's brain confirmed that.

If the league refuses to deal with the 500-pound gorilla in its room, then the Players' Assn. owes it to the current and future members to take a stand and not continue to put their health at risk for the cheap thrills fighting provides. The sport can thrive just fine without it.

Harvey Fialkov, South Florida Sun Sentinel

My heart goes out to the family of the late Bob Probert, but the iconic enforcer had a long history of alcohol and cocaine abuse that certainly could’ve contributed to his scrambled brain cells.

The NHL has already made progress with Rule 48, or the ‘Booth Rule,’ which outlaws lateral blindside hits to the head. Sure, concussions are up but the commish said they’re more a result of trips into the boards and pucks to the noggin then blind hits or fights.

While David Booth seems to have recovered, the same can’t be said for Bruins center Marc Savard and now superstar Sid Crosby.

But none of them were concussed from fights.

The NHL needs to follow the NFL’s example and employ a standardized sideline concussion test, as well as create better helmets.

But taking fights out of hockey would be like taking dunks out of the NBA.

Chris Korman, The Baltimore Sun

Fighting in the NHL is often nothing but a lucrative sideshow. Fans with little interest in the game are lured to the rink by the possibility of spontaneous violence.

But to many of those who play the game -– and to many of those who adore it most -– fighting is part of a code that gives hockey meaning. Across small towns in Canada, kids learn at a young age to protect their teammates on the rink. Dropping the gloves isn’t just part of the sport, it’s a binding thread in the culture. Exorcising it from the game would take a major shift.

Fighting is already down in the NHL, and enforcers like Probert aren’t as relied upon as they once were. Occasional fights will continue to be a part of hockey. What the NHL –- and NFL -– need to do is continue to educate players and teams on the symptoms and long-term dangers of concussions.

Photo: Chicago's Bob Probert, top, fights with Boston's Andrei Nazarov in 2001. Credit: Fred Jewell / Associated Press