Although it wasn’t the first time he came out against fighting in the NHL, Mike Milbury took a strong stance in opposition of it last week when he said it was time for the league to “grow up and get rid of it.”
You can view that exchange below:
Milbury might be against fighting now, but he was involved in more than 70 brawls over the course of his NHL career, per HockeyFights. Because of that he knows first-hand what these fights can do to a person to a person and over the years, he feels he’s gained a greater perspective.
“I’ve been TKO’d before and missed games because I’ve been dizzy, lost in space, tired,” Milbury said, per the Los Angeles Daily News. “I just can’t imagine that being somebody’s condition for most of the days of the rest of their lives.
“I mean, I’ve been out as a player since 1987 and fortunately haven’t had any issues – although some may disagree (laughing). … The fact I can still count and put a sentence together, sure, I feel fortunate. No one was worried about all that when we played. We saw the older players hobble around, but we were chasing the dream, chasing glory and we felt it was worth that price.”
That being said, Milbury felt players like him knowingly agreed to the possibility that they would suffer broken bones and almost any injury, but they weren’t “really signing up to be mentally incapacitated in some form or another for the rest of our lives.”
He knows of other former NHL players that haven’t been as fortunate as him. Former San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche forward Scott Parker is just 36 years old and has difficulty getting out of bed. Meanwhile, concussions ended the careers of players like Marc Savard and Chris Pronger.
The counterargument in favor of fighting is that it helps police the game and might even serve as a deterrence against big, high hits, but he doesn’t buy into that philosophy.
“Back when the big, bad Flyers won (the Broad Street Bullies of the early 1970s), intimidating teams physically with their fighting, the league took steps appropriately to curb that,” Milbury said. “And since that time it’s been slowly diminishing.”
He pointed to the decline of pure enforcers in the NHL as a sign of that.
At the end of the day, he realizes that some people will question his stance based on his history, but he feels that it was appropriate for him to adjust his opinion over the years in light of new information.