“Robert Frid fought hundreds of times over three years of junior hockey and eight seasons in the lower minor leagues. He’s had at least 75 concussions and been knocked unconscious many times. Declared permanently disabled in his 30s, Frid, now 41, doesn’t think he has much time left “
The story is sad, but as I read it I began to question some things. Think about the arguments for fighting that we typically hear from the Don Cherry’s of the world.
1. The players make their own decisions and know the risks.
2. Players get paid to play a game, if they get hurt, again, they decided it was worth the risk.
If you want to make those arguments (there are others, admittedly) then can we discuss the reality of life in Junior and low minor-league hockey.
Why would we allow, even encourage, fighting, in Juniors, when some of these kids are not even legally allowed to vote. Do we really think they are making their own, informed, decisions about fighting?
Guys in lower-level minor leagues get “paid” in name only, really. I used to live in an ECHL city. There were regular “cute” stories about how the players lived 3 to an apartment, worked during the offseason, etc. because they made a couple hundred bucks per week during the season, and nothing in the Summer. When you’re in that level of hockey, you are subsisting on love of the game, and the hope of getting a call up and maybe making some real money. If you were truly talented enough to be in that position, you’d probably be there. The quickest way to get a call up, is to be an enforcer. It’s also the quickest way to become a fan favorite and prevent the local team from dropping you.
Guys like Robert Frid did what they had to, what they were asked to do by people who could make his hockey life disappear if he didn’t do what they told him to, starting when he was a minor. Now he’s barely hanging on to life.
Say what you want about AHL/NHL fighting, but in juniors there’s no way it makes any sense to have the levels of fighting that we currently do. Knowing what we know about concussions and CTE, how can we let kids who have not even fully developed beat the hell out of each other?
A career built on fighting takes its toll on a former enforcer