Jarome Iginla makes case for fighting

Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla became the latest to weigh in on fighting in the NHL, writing in Sports Illustrated that he thinks the sport is safer because of it.

"Does fighting still have a place in today's NHL? My answer is a qualified yes," Iginla wrote in this week's issue. "I temper my response because I don't know of any player who truly loves fighting. Ideally it would not be a part of the game. But the nature of our sport is such that fighting actually curtails many dirty plays that could result in injuries."

The 17-year veteran isn't known for his propensity to drop the gloves, but by SI's count he has gotten into more than 60 fights over his career. Iginla wrote that when he does fight, it's usually to stick up for himself or a teammate victimized by a dirty play. He contends there is "purpose behind almost every fight" and argued that fighting "helps hold players accountable for their actions on the ice, even more so than penalties."

"If [fighting] was taken out of the game, I believe there would be more illegal stickwork, most of it done out of sight of the referees; more slashes to the ankles or wrists, and in between pads; and more cross checks to the tailbone," he wrote. "Incidents of players taking such liberties are rare in today's game because fighting gives us the ability to hold each other accountable. If you play dirty, you're going to have to answer for it."

Iginla credits the NHL for enacting rules that help make fighting less dangerous, but there is debate as to whether the league should ban it altogether. The topic came up at the recent general managers meeting, but nothing was decided other than the GMs agreed to discuss it at another meeting in March.

"It's not at the level where it's been in the media," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said. "I'm for it [fighting]. I think it's deep-rooted in the game. I think it acts as a deterrent. I understand the head injuries; I understand all that stuff, fully cognizant of it. So our discussion is that we know it's an important issue, but there were other good issues in the game that are prominent.

"Listen, we're the Bruins. We've got guys who can fight. I like the way we've built our team. I think our fans appreciate it too."

Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun was used in this report.