The death of Whitby Dunlops player Donald Sanderson as the result of hitting his head during a fight in a game in the amateur league has sent a ripple throughout the hockey community.
Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton felt the ripple. The Oshawa, Ontario native knows a number of Sanderson’s teammates, and he, like most people who love the sport, was sorry to hear about the tragedy.
Now there’s a renewed effort by many inside and outside the game to usher in more severe penalties for fighting and maybe even banning it completely. The junior Ontario Hockey League has taken the steps of instituting suspensions for players who remove their helmets before or after a fight.
Thornton knows that although he contributes to the Bruins’ cause in a number of ways, an NHL without fighting would make it nearly impossible for him to make a living in the sport. Fighting is part of the game, and Thornton’s willing to take responsibility for whatever results from in-game bouts.
“It’s our job, we sign up for it, we do it. It’s our decision,” he said after practice earlier this week. “I could quit tomorrow and become a cop if I wanted to. It’s my choice to fight. I know the risks involved, and knock on wood I hope nothing ever happens to me. But I know what risks are involved when I get into it.”