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NHL Players Speak on Fighting’s Evolution

NHL: Less fighting in games gets mixed reviews from players, fans

“I hope it doesn’t leave the league,” said the Maple Leafs’ David Clarkson, an ex-Devil wearing a full visor due to a fractured orbital bone suffered in a preseason fight with the Sabres’ Cody McCormick. “You don’t like to see guys get hurt but I think it’s something that’s part of hockey. You police yourself. Your team is down, a player takes a liberty on your player, you’re going to do something about it.”

“You can see the league is trying to phase it out, obviously,” added Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds, like Clarkson a combination of scoring skill and toughness. “A lot of teams are going with four lines of skill. I think the fights you’re going to see are not going to be the staged ones. Guys aren’t going to be dropping the gloves, spinning the helmets.”

A prime example of such a spontaneous fight came in the Rangers’ 5-0 win over the Canadiens on Sunday. Ex-Rangers bruiser Brandon Prust sent Henrik Lundqvist flying in a collision after the Rangers’ goalie strayed from his net. Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein immediately dropped his gloves and confronted Prust, an accomplished fighter.

The NHL steadily, if slowly, has installed rules to curb fighting.