Scary Video: The Garrett Klotz Fight and Seizure

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In a fight that evokes memories of The Punch, the hockey world (as well as those who dislike the sport for its brutal aspects) is once again faced with questions regarding the role of fighting in North American hockey.

When Kermit Washington decked Rudy Tomjanovich in 1977, the NBA cracked down on fighting in games, all but eliminating it. After one recent on-ice tragedy at the AAA level, and a frightening moment at a Phantoms game this weekend, the many issues surrounding fighting will be looked at. Here's the video of the fight between Garrett Klotz of the Phantoms and Kevin Westgarth of Manchester.

Fortunately, Klotz is okay now.

Several elements come quickly to mind in this particular fight, and they are illustrative of trends we see throughout hockey. First, this game had just started. That was the opening faceoff, when there couldn't have been much to settle, aside from some words during warmups or a past incident. Even if either are true, more than likely, the fight was just intended to fire both sides up to start the game.

Second, both players took off their helmets before the fight, a move common among enforcers when they do battle. Now, it is believed that Klotz's trauma was due to the force of the punch and how it caught him, rather than hitting his head on the boards or the ice. But when Don Sanderson died this year due to injuries sustained in a December fight, it was due to his unprotected head hitting the ice. Sanderson had been wearing a helmet, but as is the norm, it was not secured very tightly, and it came off when the fight started.

Those who would like fighting abolished in the NHL and its affiliates could point to both faceoff fights and helmet drops as unnecessary and correctable elements of the game. But at least for now, the league hasn't acted to change it, and despite the recent incidents, most players and league officials would probably prefer to keep fighting as is.

So, hockey fans and non-fans alike, how do the Sanderson and Klotz fights and their aftermaths make you feel about the current and future roles of fisticuffs in hockey? Should fighting be left alone, penalized more heavily, or perhaps abolished all together?

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