Hockey Fights: McLaren-Dziurzynski Tilt Another Black Eye For Sport (VIDEO)

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Not even 30 seconds into a Wednesday night tilt between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators and a man was down.

Really down.

Ottawa's Dave Dziurzynski lay awkwardly on the ice, arms limply at his sides, felled by a resounding punch to the face from Toronto's Frazer McLaren.

All of ten games into his National Hockey League career, Dziurzynski, the affable rookie who had recently urged reporters to call him "Dizzy" lay shattered on the ice.

Both men are bit players for their respective teams -- serviceable grinders carving out roles on their teams bottom lines, pitching in an occasional point and looking to rev up the fans with an even more occasional fight.

But does anyone really get a lift out of hockey fights?

The Globe and Mail's recent report on an Angus Reid Public Opinion survey suggests otherwise. Most Canadians, about 78 per cent, want fighting out of junior-level hockey completely.

And in the big leagues?

Aimed at fans as well as the general public, the survey found two-thirds of respondents are opposed to fighting in the NHL.

The argument that pugilism is part of the game is also showing signs of wear. A convincing 95 per cent of respondents identified skating (fancy that) as the game's "essential component," compared to 7 per cent who believed fighting was still a core component.

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At HFBoards, a virtual Mecca for die-hard hockey fans, opinions seemed somewhat more divided.

"I've been watching hockey since the days of Henri Richard, and I don't want to watch anymore," wrote Droid56.

"Sometimes I am shocked that fighting is allowed in hockey," added Megahab. "It never made sense to me."

But there was also an argument to be made for fighting as a kind of on-ice policing -- a means to keep players honest, while discouraging dirty plays.

"I really believe fighting keeps people in check and without fighting I would not be surprised to see many, many injuries in hockey due to stick infractions and general dirty hockey without the consequence of a fight," wrote Fireworks.

Forum users like Partisan du CH took the middle ground, suggesting, "If the players want the fights, agree that they can get punched, knowing all the consequences it can have on the quality of life, then who am I to say it doesn't belong in the sport?"

Hockey writer Ryan Lambert made no bones of his pro-fighting stance this week. In the Puck Daddy hockey blog, he opined:

"This is a sport in which hits -- the act of hitting someone else so hard that they lose control of the puck -- are a thing that is considered good, and bare-knuckle fighting is more or less totally legal, and entered into by giant men with the intent of better engaging their teammates in the game's proceedings."

It's hard to see, however, how Dziurzynski or McLaren managed to better engage their teammates with Wednesday's ill-fated tilt.

As the rookie Dziurzynski was being scraped off the ice like a broken puppet, a white-faced McLaren skated away, not to return that game.

The Leafs ultimately won the match. But afterward, neither side was crediting the fight for doing much else but dampening spirits.

"Any time you get into a fight, you never want to see that happen," McLaren told the National Post. "Obviously, I hope he’s OK. I asked the doctor between periods to just get word that he was all right. It was just an unfortunate incident that that happens.”

Dziurzynski's teammate, Zack Smith summed up the post-fight feeling for both teams, telling The Toronto Star, "If anything, a fight like that deflates both teams. ... It’s scary, man. It’s a shock at first."

Scariest perhaps for Dziurzynski himself. After regaining consciousness, he needed more than a little help from his teammates, as he struggled to exit the big stage that he had likely dreamed of being on since he was boy.

Earlier on HuffPost:

2012 NHL Playoffs Fights
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