Should fighting be banned in hockey?

Dialogues: Alumni Weekend 2012

Event Description

Should fighting be banned in hockey?

Hockey is the only major professional team sport that condones fighting. But is the violence necessary or is it primarily for fan entertainment? Recent off-ice deaths of NHL enforcers and the post-death discoveries of their physical and mental states have turned the spotlight on fighting and the impact of head injuries. Minor hockey leagues don’t allow fighting and now junior hockey leagues are considering bans. Can the NHL be far behind? How would paying fans react? Will hockey hold the same place in Canadians’ hearts if fighting is no longer a part of the game?

This event took place Saturday, May 26, 2012, as part of Alumni Weekend 2012



Rick Cluff – CBC Radio One’s The Early Edition


Ryan Walter – President, AHL’s Abbotsford Heat and former NHL player and coach (and Stanley Cup champion)

Doug Clement, CM, MD’59 – Professor Emeritus, UBC Faculty of Medicine and Former Physician to the Vancouver Canucks

Naznin Virji-Babul – Assistant Professor, UBC Department of Physical Therapy and Scientist, Child and Family Research Institute

Michael Gaetz, PhD Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of the Fraser Valley, hockey player and coach, and former Post-doctoral Fellow, Sports Medicine and Psychiatry, UBC.

Ken Cavalier, BA’74, LLB’00, LLM’06 – Lawyer and Former Lecturer, Peter A. Allard School of Law

2012-13 Event Series Sponsors:

CBC     TD Meloche Monnex

Panelist Biographies

Ryan Walter

Ryan WalterRyan Walter played and coached more than 1100 games over 17 seasons in the National Hockey League. Drafted second overall by the Washington Capitals in 1978, Ryan was named the youngest NHL captain in his second of 4 seasons, played 9 seasons and won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens, and returned to his home town to play his last 2 seasons for the Vancouver Canucks. He was named Team Canada Captain in the World Junior Tournament, was selected to play in the NHL All-Star game and for Team Canada in 4 World Championships, became a Vice-President of the National Hockey League Players Association, and was honoured as NHL Man of the Year in 1992. Ryan has been inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame, the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame, named to the 30 all-time Washington Capitals’ Dream team, the top 50 all-time BCHL players and the top 100 Montreal Canadiens in 100 years.

Ryan has a Master of Arts Degree in Leadership/Business. He is the author of five books, the creator of the board game Trade Deadline Hockey, and a regular contributor to both online and print magazines and newspapers. Ryan serves on the Hockey Canada Foundation’s Board of Directors and is a member of the Seton Hall Stillman School of Business Leadership Advisory Council.

Currently the President of the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Heat, Ryan won a Gold Medal at his inaugural 4 Nations Cup tournament as Head Coach of Canada’s National Women’s Hockey Team. He has been an NHL coach, co-founder and president of two start-up companies, a TV hockey analyst, and a hockey adviser and actor for both television and movies.  Ryan’s enthusiasm from the page, the screen, the bench, the boardroom, and the podium is contagious as he fulfills his mission to “Inspire the hungry spirit!”

Doug Clement

Doug ClementDr. Doug Clement was born in Montreal, Quebec, and is a former Olympic and Commonwealth athlete and coach. He was on the medical or coaching staff of over twelve Olympic and World Championships. As co-founder of the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre, he taught and practiced sports medicine for over 20 years at the University of British Columbia. He also co-founded the Kajak Track and Field Club, the Vancouver Sun Run and the Harry Jerome International Track Classic. From 1992 to 1999, he served as a team physician to the Vancouver Canucks. Highly regarded for his insight into athletics from an educational, medical, and business standpoint, Doug has served as the director for several organizations including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Telus Community Board and the Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine. He has also been honoured with many academic and professional awards including the Order of Canada and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame.

Naznin Virji-Babul

Naznin Virji-Babul

Naznin is a physical therapist and neuroscientist.  She is an Assistant Professor in UBC’s Department of Physical Therapy and a Scientist at the Child and Family Research Institute. Her research focuses on perceptual-motor function in children and youth. She is currently investigating the impact of concussion on the structure and function of the brain in youth ice hockey players using cutting edge brain imaging tools. The goal of this work is to develop imaging “signatures” of concussion and to study the long term impact of concussion in adolescents. She will share some of her initial findings during the event.

Michael Gaetz

Michael GaetzMichael is currently involved in the development of new procedures for the assessment and rehabilitation of mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) in athletes. He has published peer-reviewed research in the areas of concussion risk factors as well as electrophysiological evidence for the cumulative effects of concussion in British Columbia Junior hockey players. He has also published (along with Dr. Grant Iverson – UBC) one of the first exercise assessment protocols for the management of concussion.

Others areas of research include the investigation of autonomic nervous system dysfunction related to depression and anxiety disorders, non-linear analysis of biologic data, electroencephalography (EEG), and magnetoencephalography (MEG). He has experience as a neurophysiologist in the operating room using electrophysiologic procedures to monitor brain and spinal cord functioning during high risk surgeries.

Michael has approximately 30 years experience playing competitive hockey and has been a Hockey Canada certified coach for over 20 years, most recently for the Rep Pee Wee Female team in Chilliwack. He offers a community-based Concussion Management Program at the Chilliwack Education Park for young athletes involved in contact sport.

Ken Cavalier

Ken CavalierKen Cavalier received his BA from UBC and his PhD from Northwestern University, which gave him the credentials as an art historian/archaeologist and led to positions as the Director of the University Art Gallery and the Associate Director of the School of Art at the University of Manitoba. Prior to that, he began his athletic career in football in 1968 and switched to rugby in 1973, both while at UBC. His rugby career as a player and coach lasted over forty years until hip and knee replacement surgery forced him to hang up his boots in 2006. While playing in Chicago, he was arrested, charged and acquitted in a trial for battery on a rugby field for throwing a single punch. This was before he ever considered going to law school and was his first and only experience with the US criminal law system. When the judge summed up the case before acquitting Ken, he said “Sounds to me like rugby is organized battery. I cannot find the defendant guilty.” Ken considered himself saved by the efforts of a public defender lawyer who had never even watched a rugby game before defending him in his case. This life experience helped develop Ken’s views concerning the role of fighting in contact sports and led him back to UBC in 1998 for Law School. Since then, he has helped offer courses at UBC on Sports Law, Media and Entertainment Law and Law of the Olympics. He has published several peer-reviewed articles on copyright law and other areas of legal scholarship. He was the Chair of the CBA Entertainment Law Subsection (BC Branch) in 2006 and 2007 and shared those duties in 2008.

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