For me, fighting will always have a place in hockey. Whether it's to energize a team that is down early in a game; retaliation for a cheap shot on a star player or goalie; or simply because you don't like someone, I'm a very strong proponent for letting players police themselves and the game.
Away from the on ice activity, fighting brings definite entertainment value to the game as well. If it didn't, there would be no place for websites dedicated solely to hockey's pugilistic episodes. No other act gets the crowd as a whole up on their feet and cheering so loudly. Well maybe when they bust out the t-shirt cannons at intermission. Fighting is so popular, people get paid millions of dollars just to get punched in the face.
A good donnybrook stirs up something primeval inside of you whenever you see two goes go toe to toe on the ice throwing bombs. Helmets get ripped off, elbow pads and fists go flying and then the guy getting his face rearranged goes for a takedown...
I have a huge problem with fights ending with a judo throw or collegiate wrestling leg sweep. Not only do I view it as an unnecessary, coward's way out of a fight; there is a legitimate injury risk involved. When helmets come off, as they so frequently do, going for a bodyslam or taking the legs out from under a guy could so very easily lead to a player making hard contact between his head and the ice. See the tragic case of Don Sanderson for the worst possible outcome of such a situation.
I see three ways for a fight to end:
1) You're knocked out or down
2) You hug it out and let the linesmen come in and seperate you.
3) You separate from the guy you're fighting and call it quits.
The NHL has already implemented rule changes to control how fights start with the instigator penalty. I see no reason why a similar rule shouldn't exist to control how fights end. And I'm not alone on this. (CBC Sports, Jan. 2009; Goon Blog Feb. 2009; Some commenter named Paul, Jan 2009)
I don't feel the NHL should go the route the OHL did and suspend players for removing their helmets. In the OHL it's 16, 17, and 18 year old kids; whereas in the NHL it's 30 year old grown men and if they want to go hatless in a fight, let them. I also want helmets to be able to be removed in a fight because many players wear visors. If you have a visor on and get into a fight without taking it off, Don Cherry thinks you're a Euro pansy, and so do I. Well just a pansy; I'm not a xenophobic old coot like Cherry.
Therefore, I propose an extra 4 minute double-minor penalty be assessed to a player for an intentional takedown during a fight as deemed such by the referee. I feel 2 minutes is too few to appropriately deter someone from going for the takedown; especially when you consider the potentially injuries that could result from said takedown, even with a helmet on.
Got thoughts? Drop them in the comments.