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Toronto Maple Leafs Frazer McLaren clobbers the Ottawa Senators’ David Dziurzynski during this week in Toronto. (MARK BLINCH/REUTERS)
Toronto Maple Leafs Frazer McLaren clobbers the Ottawa Senators’ David Dziurzynski during this week in Toronto. (MARK BLINCH/REUTERS)

The conversation: March 9 letters and other talking points Add to ...

A centre red line divides more than the arena in Canada’s national game – fighting’s place in hockey also splits Canadians into two camps. This week’s McLaren/Dziurzynski ‘fight’ has our readers, print and digital, trying to score points for their side of the discussion

David Shoalts (A Lasting Impression – Sports, March 7) correctly asserts that the hockey “fight” between Frazer McLaren and Dave Dziurzynski was a “graphic demonstration of how ugly and pointless hockey fights can be.” Mr. Dziurzynski’s concussion from the knock-out punch may well end his career.

Other players will certainly get punched out while we continue to talk (and talk) about finding realistic ways to reduce concussions. Talk as long as you want about hockey strategy and fights, then consider how skilled and exciting European and Olympic hockey has been without fighting. Any seven-year-old would be able to put two and two together and help us escape this dark side of hockey – unless one prefers to use the old math of Don Cherry.

Michael Kanter, Toronto, letter


The common perception of hockey is that it’s a “tough guy’s sport”; it has never been sold as a “gentleman’s game.” Add to that a reluctance by players – especially those distinguished mainly by their brawling ability – to change the rules and you have a scenario where, although the negative realities of fighting probably outweigh the benefits, it will continue.

In short, fighting is an integral part of the game so long as hockey is a spectator sport because it’s what the mob wants to see.

Somewhat shamefully, I’ll admit I’m part of that mob.

Kristov Kully-Martens, Edmonton, digital reader


We allow hockey players to fight like animals and knock each other out for our pleasure. We don’t allow dogs or roosters to fight for our entertainment. Where’s the logic in that?

Richard Pearson, North Vancouver, digital reader


After the obligatory national anthem at a Victoria Salmon Kings game a few years back, the announcer solemnly informed fans this was a family event, that anyone misbehaving would be escorted out of the arena. Mere moments after the puck was dropped a staged fight broke out at centre ice. I looked around to gauge if others felt the same ironic disgust and saw only enthusiastic responses to the “ice-boxing.”

So the question is: Do most ticket-buying and TV-watching fans want fighting banned? Only that shift can drag the NHL (Neanderthal Hockey League) into doing the right thing. After all, it’s all about the money – and not the good of the game

Dave Nonen, Victoria, letter


If nothing changes, sooner or later, someone literally is going to get killed out there by either a punch to the temple or by getting knocked out and hitting their head on the ice. It is inevitable. The boys are just too big and physical. Ban the “staged fight.” It is not difficult, as the refs know exactly what’s going on.

Robert Carriere, Halifax, digital reader


Fighting’s part of the game. Always has been, always will be. Sometimes, when people fight, they get hurt. It’s not a tickling contest.

Conor McSweeny, Toronto, digital reader


If I wanted tickets to a punch-up, I would buy UFC or boxing tickets. How the hell did fighting, staged, expected or otherwise, become a mainstream part of the game? I have abandoned hockey entirely as a spectator; I watch Premier and European League soccer.

Christine Burnett, Milton, Ont., digital reader


Fights are necessary as long as pests are allowed in the game. Guys who throw elbows, knees, or hits from behind on the opponents’ top players are the reason for fighters. Until the rules protect the skilled players, it’s the tough guys’ job. Thumbs up to them for stepping in to protect a little guy.

Greg Moody, Orangeville, Ont., digital reader


Taking a leaf from Jonathan Swift, I’d like to suggest A Modest Proposal: Introduce fighting to minor hockey. Our kids can’t fully appreciate the beauty of our national game if we don’t teach them this essential skill. Our rep leagues make sure kids learn how to give and take a solid body check. Why not teach them the finer points of baring their knuckles and having at it?

Plenty of fans will tell you fighting is integral to the game. Maybe they can get behind this idea.

If the big guys can fight, why can’t the little guys, too?

Neil Macdonald, Toronto, letter



Shortchanged children

I feel for the future of francophone children in Quebec who will not have the benefits of intensive English-language training at an early age (PQ Cancels Program To Teach English – March 8).

I have two grandchildren who were immersed in English and French early; they now speak both fluently.

The PQ seems to want to keep Quebec as an insulated society. I understand the need for strong French-language skills but I pity the disadvantages for Quebec children growing up in a globalized economy with poor English-language skills.

Vivian Larose, Ottawa


It ain’t ‘austerity’

The word “austerity” is being rather overworked (Alberta Turns To Austerity – March 8). Austerity is ration books, clothing coupons, queues, blackouts, 10 pounds of travel allowance for overseas travel and gas rationing, à la life in the U.K. immediately after the Second World War.

Having to cut back the café latte to four days out of five, taking a packed lunch to work occasionally, small increases in students fees and larger classes in school ain’t austerity!

Get real.

David Amies, Lethbridge


Just wondering

Breaking news: 115 unelected men, average age 72 years, meeting in Rome, choose International Women’s Day to announce they will soon elect a new (male) leader (Cardinals Set Tuesday As Start Date For Conclave – online, March 8).

Coincidence, thoughtlessness or provocation?

Des Writer, Halifax


Chavez conundrum

Hugo Chavez held audited elections, consistently winning the popular vote (Chavez Truths – letters, March 8). Having a leader supported by a majority of the country’s voters is not something we are very familiar with – although limitations on free speech and expression for elected representatives and government scientists unfortunately is.

So, I’m one of those who sometimes has trouble deciding if someone is a dictator until that person refuses to step down – something Mr. Chavez didn’t have to decide.

Martin Hyde, Ottawa


THE SPARK Ron Paul at the podium

For Twitter-addicted politicos on Friday morning, two words kept popping up again and again: Ron and Paul.

The Texas Congressman, spiritual leader of the Republican party’s libertarian wing, was in Ottawa to talk at a conservative conference organized by the Manning Centre.

Mr. Paul and former Reform leader Preston Manning on one stage, with the Texan calling for the end of central banking, no income tax and privatized health care – how could that not get political tongues wagging?

The Republican presidential not-quite-nominee’s celebrity status drew buzz in the weeks before, and indeed, he was swarmed by a mob of young conservatives when he appeared. (Few parliamentarians, apparently, attended the talk.)

Before making the trip north, he spoke to The Globe’s Paul Koring in Washington for an interview that was one of Globe Politics’ most-read and talked-about stories this week.

“A whole generation of young people is learning of the problems they are inheriting … and they are very receptive to ‘limited-government’ ideas,” Mr. Paul told Mr. Koring.

And, later: “I think Canadians have done a better job managing their budget in the last few years, not that it takes a whole lot to do a better job than the United States.”

As a figure with a strong ideological position, Mr. Paul inspires equally strong positions in others. Comments numbered more than 500 an d most of them attacked Mr. Paul’s views of the free market, however kindly they looked on his character.

“Mr. Paul is a nice man, but his ideas are dangerous and extreme and would lead to the creation of a wholly uncivilized state,” one commenter ominously intoned.

“Nice guy with good positions on preserving civil liberties and non-interventionist foreign policy, but his libertarian faith in the markets is so simplistic it amounts to fairy tales,” said another.

On Facebook, reader Robert James Drain also made the distinction between the man and his ideas.

“I am conflicted about this guy,” he wrote. “I strongly agree with some things he says, but others I think he is wrong. But you must admit you know where he stands and what [he] actually believes. Rare quality.”

Mr. Paul’s ideas don’t seem to win the big political contests – though he’s won his congressional district off-and-on since 1976, nationally he’s had three failed attempts at the Republican nomination.

But his positions certainly do get people talking.

Chris Hannay is The Globe and Mail’s online politics editor.

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