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Olympics show that hockey can shine fight-free

The Olympic hockey tournament in Sochi featured dozens of National Hockey League stars from the United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and other countries in 30 games demonstrating dazzling athleticism and skill. What those in attendance and those watching on television — nearly 20 million in the United States and Canada for the semifinal game — did not see was the brutal, bare-knuckle fighting that is on display nightly in NHL games played in America and Canada.

What was the difference?

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The rules.

In the Olympic Games, fighting results in a game misconduct penalty and ejection, while in the NHL there is barely a slap on the wrist. The league evidently believes that fans want mixed martial arts as a part of their hockey.

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The Olympics ought to demonstrate that skating, scoring, passing, and checking are the fans’ delights, not vicious blows to the face and head. It’s time for the NHL to clean up its act, get rid of fighting, and improve its game.

Michael F. Epstein

Cambridge

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