Is the NHL enforcer going extinct?

Debating the role and impact of fighting specialists in seasons ahead

Updated: December 4, 2013, 12:09 PM ET
By Craig Custance and Frank Provenzano |
ESPN Insider

John Scott and Phil KesselAP Photo/Gary WiepertWill there be a place for enforcers like Buffalo's John Scott in future NHL seasons?

As part of's examination of the future of fighting in the NHL, ESPN The Magazine senior NHL writer Craig Custance and former NHL assistant GM and ESPN Insider Frank Provenzano examine the impact of the enforcer in the NHL lineup and the role fighters will play in the future.

Craig Custance: The NHL without fighting. It's a fascinating, if unrealistic, thought. It would be safer in theory, but proponents would likely shoot that theory down quickly. When I chatted with Brian Burke recently on the topic, he quickly shot down even entertaining the idea. "I don't want to see what this league looks like with no fighting," he said.

And Penguins GM Ray Shero, who has publicly suggested the NHL needs to look hard at fighting, doesn't ever expect it to be completely terminated. "Even if you said there'd be no fighting, there's going to be fights," Shero said. "There's 'no fighting' in baseball, and there's bench-clearing brawls."

The enforcer, however, is moving toward extinction. The result in safety is debatable, as is their value in the win column.