The league began to scrutinize fighting after the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak, Bob Probert and Rick Rypien in recent years, a good idea as far as Kings defenseman Willie Mitchel is concerned. All four were considered top heavyweights, men who made NHL rosters because they could fight rather than score goals.
“Fighting played a direct correlation to the end of their lives,” Mitchell said. “You can’t ignore that. We’re all tough guys. You can’t get to this point without being a tough guy. Play hard, finish your checks. If fights evolve because it’s two guys competing hard and it just happens, that’s it. The more staged ones, I think you’re seeing it’s slowly being moved out of the game.”