However, there are people who feel that fans, particularly in U.S. cities, would miss the battles. "It's in vogue now to say you're against fighting," says Poile. "But the fans who come and watch don't seem to be offended by it."
Indeed, many NHL executives are scared to death that if fighting were banned from hockey, thousands of season-ticket holders who get their jollies from watching grown men in short pants do quasi-legal, bare-knuckle battle would bail out on the spot. Violence sells. That's not news, so does sex. If that's what's important, why doesn't the league hire a bunch of bikini-clad bimbos to skate around behind the Zambonis holding up placards showing each team's penalty totals? Better yet, let them referee. Tickets would sell like hotcakes to fans hoping to get the chance to watch the girls break up fights.
The NHL has got to decide whether to continue presenting itself as a carnival show or to rejoin the ranks of major league sport. Even Ziegler admits, "If there is anyone who pays the kind of prices we charge to see 20 seconds of fighting, he's got to be an idiot."
That's what we've been trying to tell you. So why do you continue to cater to the dimmest bulb in the stands?
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