Let it first be known that OHL commissioner David Branch is no friend of hockey’s pro-fighting lobby.
In fact, Branch fully admits, “I’m on the side of the ledger where I do not believe we need fighting in our game,” and the actions he’s taken to curb fisticuffs at the junior level reflect that.
At the same time, Branch chose a measured response after junior phenom Connor McDavid hurt his hand in a scrap during an OHL game last night.
“You can never lose sight that hockey is a game of emotion,” he told FAN 590 radio (audio). “It’s a game of action, reaction. In order to be an elite player, such as Connor McDavid, I would suggest that one of the elements he must possess is passion, and a desire to compete. And Connor certainly has that.
“Would we like to wrap Connor in bubble wrap just to make sure nothing happens and he gets through the season in great health? On one hand, yes. But is that practical? Absolutely not.”
The McDavid fight/injury has generated all sorts of varied opinions, from one prominent columnist/TV analyst who lamented “a society that allows unpaid teenage boys to fight with their bare knuckles for the amusement of paying customers,” to a veteran NHLer who thought McDavid “did a great job” in sticking up for himself.
At this point, it’s not clear how seriously McDavid is hurt. The 17-year-old was to see a specialist this afternoon, after which a rough timeline for his return may be provided.