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The Week In Review: Hockey's Ritual-Violence Problem

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This was a big week for hockey fans with the NHL season opener ringing in a brand new set of Stanley Cup hopes and dreams. But no sooner had the fun begun than Montreal Canadiens enforcer George Parros and Maple Leaf Colton Orr got into a fight that ended with Parros bashing his face straight into the ice. Several tense minutes followed, during which Parros lay there on the rink, unconscious and immobile, before he was eventually carried away on a stretcher. Fortunately, Parros was in good enough shape to be discharged from hospital the next day. However, the concussion he suffered means he is out "indefinitely" (the Canadiens' word), and the whole question of whether the NHL should crack down on fighting has been raised afresh. Given how much we've learned about the devastating effects of head trauma, it seems almost cruel that more progress has not been made in eliminating ritual violence from hockey - even if the players themselves don't see the need. Until that progress is made at the highest level, fewer and fewer parents are going to be interested in getting their kids involved in hockey. After all, why choose a sport where brain injury is considered an unfortunate but unavoidable part of the game?

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