Connor McDavid, the world's top hockey prospect, injured his hand in a fight last night. The OHL's leading scorer, who "doesn't fight very often," appeared to hurt himself (at about the 30-second mark of the video) when one of his punches struck the glass.
McDavid had X-rays last night, and without any announcement from the Erie Otters, everyone's already assuming some sort of fracture. The prognosis very much matters; the World Juniors begin in a little over six weeks. We should find out more today, after McDavid sees a specialist.
The takes can't wait. An early sampling: Fighting in hockey is archaic; no, actually, fighting in hockey is what most fans want. Fighting should be banned in junior hockey; no, actually, the decision to fight was McDavid's alone. (Though the arguments go deeper, I find myself agreeing with all four of those thesis statements.)
It's a really tricky issue. McDavid, being so much better and faster than the other teenagers he plays against, is a target. He had gotten slashed, and run, like he does every game, until he finally had enough. If the officials won't give McDavid special protections—as they shouldn't—does he have to defend himself? Does he at least have to be given the right to defend himself? Should his defense fall to teammates whose skillsets are almost entirely physical? McDavid's injury doesn't answer any questions about fighting in hockey; it merely reframes all the usual questions around the one player whom no one wants to drop the gloves.
The upshot is that McDavid will likely be out a while, weakening his team and maybe his country, all after getting hurt—flukily—in an entirely, emotionally charged minigame that has no bearing on why he projects to be a franchise-changing sort of talent. It shouldn't have happened, but the debate about when it should have been headed off—and by whom—remains worth dropping the gloves over.