NHL: Krys Barch, Brett Gallant get around the helmet rule; Will fighting be banned?

The two fighters found a loophole to get around the league's new 'no helmet removal' rule.

Forwards Krys Barch and Brett Gallant remove each other's helmets before fighting

Forwards Krys Barch and Brett Gallant remove each other's helmets before fighting



The debate will rage on and on and on and it will take one issue and divide it into many questions: Should fighting be allowed in the NHL? Should there be greater penalties for fighting? Should we still have the instigator rule? Should players be allowed to remove their helmets before a fight?

The last one was recently dealt with, probably because it’s the easiest. Another question: since when has the NHL actually tried to answer a difficult question?

The league responded with a “No”, meaning players were forbidden to remove the buckets before a tussle, something that wasn’t done by every player before a fight, but it still wasn’t uncommon. It became a wider-discussed issue after the 2005 lockout – to my knowledge – when heavyweight WHL players started doing frequently, but they were in junior, and if they didn’t do it on the ice in Alberta, maybe we just assumed they would do it in a barn in Alberta.

On Thursday night, however, New Jersey Devils forward Krys Barch and New York Islanders winger Brett Gallant found a loophole: they took each other‘s helmets off.

It was a pretty diplomatic approach, and you can even see both players fumbling as they try and devise a system where they can work it out. It’s so friendly to start, it reminds you of that Georges Laraque clip from back in the day… although, it does soften the start of the fight.

Still, if players are going to go these lengths just to pull it off, doesn’t that mean there’s some reasonable resistance to the NHL’s ruling?

You can say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, but that’s just avoiding the conversation.

Don’t forget: fighting is allowed in the NHL. The league doesn’t dare touch that one – yet – because they know just how much attention they get from their fights, which have depleted in quantity in recent years.

The players are the only ones who can attest to the real question here…

Is fighting without a helmet safer or not?

It’s certainly easier and more convenient. You’re already fighting on the ice. Isn’t this rule kind of like that episode of Breaking Bad where Walt and Jesse spend the whole hour trying to kill a fly, just in case it gets in their crystal meth batch?

“It’s all contaminated,” Walter finally says, realizing that drugs are drugs and a little bit of egg shell in your omelette won’t hurt you anymore than the egg already will.

Of course, maybe this isn’t a rule designed to combat the ruling, at all.

Maybe it’s just the NHL’s way of slowly eradicating fighting altogether, without having to actually do it directly.

Yup. That’s probably it.