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Earlier discussion

Ken Dryden answers questions about hockey violence Add to ...

Fred Garvin: Why do you think society seems to be heading towards an Ultimate Fighting mentality, Ken?

Ken Dryden: Thanks, Fred. That's a very good question. I don't think society as a whole is, but there is no doubt we are in a time of pushing the extremes in every field. I think part of a willingness for that, though, is not knowing the consequences of what we're watching. As a kid, I used to love watching boxing on TV. Now I can't have it on. Then I didn't know what it did to the brain and what the future lives of these boxers would be. Now I know.

Guest: So do you think fighting should be banned from hockey?

Ken Dryden: Thanks. Guest. I've always thought hockey could do without fighting the way every other major sport handles it - football, baseball, basketball, soccer. But I'm not sure this is the time to make that the focus. Targeting that in the past hasn't worked. I think the way to get at it now is through the undeniable damage of head injuries and focusing on how to rethink how the game is played to make it work into the future. Then fighting will become part of that discussion.

Robyn Flynn: Hi Ken, do you think that there's a place in hockey for "roughness"? Has it just gotten out of hand? I think that headshots and smashing guys into the stanchion is going too far, but I appreciate a good hockey fight from time to time...

Ken Dryden: Thanks, Robyn. I think there is absolutely a place in hockey for "roughness." Played on ice, with boards hemming you in, going as fast as players go, there are going to be endless collisions. And that's fine; that's exciting; that's part of the test and the contest. But the impact of those collisions is now far greater than before because the players are bigger and move faster. That's where the focus needs to be. To know the implications of this, to know something can be done, and to do it.

Guest: Ken if you were in control what would you do to prevent an incident like the Chara hit on Pacioretty?

Ken Dryden: Thanks, Guest. I have only seen clips of the incident. There are probably better angles I didn't see. But from what I did see, it wasn't any extreme action of Chara that caused the injury. It was Pacioretty running head first into something hard and unmovable. First, I think anything - stanchion, glass etc. - that might come into play like that has to be breakable or movable to diminish the force of impact - or not be there. As for Chara, the only thing I saw him do wrong - and by the NHL's interpretation of the rules, even that wasn't wrong - he hit Pacioretty after Pacioretty had given up the puck. And that's interference, except the NHL calls that "finishing the check." This is a whole other question, and I'm sure in the other questions we'll get to that.

nafio: Ken, do you think the NHL is hesitant to address these issues of excessive violence in their games for fear that should they crack down on checking, fighting etc..., they will lose the interest of some spectators? And if so, do you think this would be the case - if the sport were less violent, that it would be less appealing to some fans? In other words, is the NHL trying to become the new WWE/UFC?

Ken Dryden: Thanks, Nafio. I think that is a fear that many in the NHL hold. But it's always been my argument that this image of hockey has kept hockey - except in Canada and in a few of the European countries - on the fringes of public acceptability. You know the stereotypes of hockey not just in the US but among those in Canada who aren't fans. I think hockey is the most exciting game of all, and I think many more people would feel the same way if they hadn't closed their eyes to it because of this image. And beyond that, whatever some may feel, with the kinds of injuries that are happening, with what science knows, the costs in terms of lawsuits in the future will get many in the NHL to think again.

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