By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — For a moment, it looked and felt like the NHL had declared war on fighting. Confused by the league’s lack of transparency, Michael Hurley pointed out that fighting had been banned, tongue firmly planted in cheek. A few other instances indicated that NHL referees sought to interject themselves into heavyweight bouts between two willing combatants, an implicit effort to suppress one of pro hockey’s most long-standing, albeit violent, traditions.
But lo and behold, it appears that fighting indeed has not been banned by the NHL. The officials during last night’s Bruins loss to the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena were happy to let Adam McQuaid and the Preds’ Derek Grant tussle for a minute. For once, they realized they were better off letting the two – again, both willing combatants – sort things out themselves.
The results were appropriately barbarous. You can see the full fight in the video above, but here’s how Jack Edwards called it on NESN:
Call me a homer but I think McQuaid took that one.
Fortunately, for the sake of old-time hockey fans, Grant is OK. The Preds forward, whom Nashville had just claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Sabres a day earlier, probably didn’t expect to get walloped like this so early in his tenure with his new team. But he’s fine. No concussion. No blood. No stitches. He probably didn’t even get his feelings hurt.
Most importantly, Grant is surely well aware of the risks involved with fighting other large men in hockey games and the potential dangers associated with head injuries. That’s the whole reason that dozens of former players sued the National Hockey League in the first place. Players aren’t being lied to anymore; information can no longer be hidden from them. They know they’re making a choice and that it can be a dangerous one; they’re willing to take the risk.
For the sake of hockey’s entertainment value – and make no mistake, the fight was a big component of why Thursday night’s game was so thoroughly entertaining – the refs are better off letting players fight it out when they want to. It’s frankly insulting (and sometimes dangerous) to jump in when it’s not necessary. Thankfully, they finally let one go, and it was spectacular.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.