So far, I've not read anyone except one or two persons make compelling arguments in favour of fighting. I would like to reply to these people, but for now I will reply to Boudrias.
Anyone who has played the game understands that hockey is the physical struggle of overcoming brute force with finess and thereby achieving the victory. The game really is not about fans who sit in the stands and have never experienced that physical challenge. I credit the player who plays the body and yes even fights at times as well as the fast outside player who cuts to the net and roofs a backhand. For evey Hank Sedin there is a Shawn Thorton. They each make their contribution to the game.
Overcoming "brute force" is understandable. Actually, no one is even talking about that, as there are many sports with a brute force aspect to it, and they are undergoing their own studies and analyses on the subject; e.g., American football, rugby, and boxing, to name a few. We are talking about fighting in hockey, not brute force in sport. Two very different things that clearly must be spelt out to you. Let me be clear: one is a deliberate act of harming a player, the other is a team sport with specific rules. Fighting isn't in the rule book. If you don't want rules or you want to play by unwritten rules, you can take it to the streets. There is a difference between organised sport and people thugging it out.
What the game is or isn't about is your opinion; it is not for you or anyone to say what it is definitively or creating some type of elitist game where you decide who the 'real' fans are or are not. I have my own opinion on what hockey is. I don't care to waste time on personal opinions because, as they say, opinions are like...
A true classic is an Alex Burrows. He came to the NHL thru a long route of disappointment but perservered. An agitator to a premier forward. A player who wondered while in the ECHL whether to continue on. A player Stevie Y chose to represent Canada in World play last year. No player goes on the ice when he starts playing the game thinking he wants to beat some smuck into the ice. Elite players all realize that as they progress to higher echolons of play that their roles become more defined if they want to continue. There are tens of thousands who cannot adjust and drop out.
No player goes on the ice thinking he wants to beat some shmuck? Really? Can you tell that to McLaren? 26 seconds into the first period? Oh, suddenly it's not "no player" but just a 'handful' or 'on rare occasion', right? Let's get the facts out without all the cheap rhetoric. The rest of what you say here is irrelevant to the discussion.
If you perceive excessive violence in hockey I suggest you don't watch. UFC fighting is perhaps something you should campaign against. I know lots of retired hockey players. Yes they have their aches and pains but most never regret their time in the sport and in fact still play oldtimer hockey. You should perhaps check out retired NFL players and see if their physical condition lets them make the same claim.
Thank you for the advice, but I think I'm a big boy and can make up my own mind. I'm sure when fighting is banned from hockey, which it will be (maybe not soon but it will be), you will stop watching and forget about the sport you so cynically loved only because of the fighting, right? I suggest you throw in the towel (pun intended), and realise the sport you romanticise is not coming back. Luckily, newer generations are capable of thinking logically and will improve the game. I know this because even though I do not know hockey inside-out, there are a couple of other sports I grew up with since I was born, and know the history of them. What is going on in hockey is not unique to hockey. Crack open a (history) book on other sports and you will understand how the evolution of sport occurs.
I don't waste my time campaigning against anything. I waste my time on improving areas of society which I love.
For the record, I hate UFC. The people who participate in that are a bunch of morons. Someone who used to be my bestfriend now trains for and wants to compete in UFC/MMA. I've had that discussion with him and know more about it through him educating me than the average viewer. Suffice it to say our friendship could not last because he lost a few billion neurons that have left him so incapable of rationalising, that he has been brainwashed into thinking UFC is 'cool' and 'fun'. I know through him what that 'sport' does to someone and the side effects of it.
To be honest, the whole rhetoric of those in favour of fighting is disgusting and a little insulting.
But let me humour you. The fact that you bring up NFL is pretty hilarious. You see, human evolution is a funny thing. 'Cuz, you know what? When humans evolve, they don't only evolve in one sport. They evolve in all areas of life. This means (gasp!) hockey is affected by human evolution. Ain't that a funny thing?
Let me be a little less subtle. There has been data by orders of magnitude suggesting long term damage is severely crippling players as early as late 20s and in their 30s in football as you know. This is because of their improved training techniques. Your oldtime hockey buddies did not have the bodies, resistance, adrenaline, legal drugs/enhancers, training that new kinesiology has brought forth.
If there is something that surprises me, it is that within each sport, there are many fans so hell-bent on not accepting the facts or numbers, that they make up excuses, use conspiracy theories or nitpick so much and lay the blame at a billion other things in order to defend their position on the matter at hand. One cannot rationalise or think logically with these people. Thus, I will not even bother with them. It's the same reason Richard Dawkins has said he will not debate or argue with creationists, who do not care about facts and cannot be persuaded with scientific analyses. To continue with this analogy, all us rational folk can do is ensure these barbarics are not in a position to make decisions or influence the rules, in this case, of hockey. Unfortunately, in society, some people need help to protect them from doing harm to themselves and to others because of their destructive personalities. So if you can't play hockey to save your life, in the future, this will mean you cannot just be used as a goon or an enforcer/instigator just to cash in, because not only is this harmful to others, but this type of person is being used himself, as a mere puppet, and this responsibility falls not only on the league, but on the organisation's management.
Imagine a world where people actually need skill and intelligence to be compensated. I know, it's a crazy idea, eh? But we're getting there, slowly but surely.