In 2004, Colorado Avalanche rookie Steve Moore suffered three broken vertebrae and a concussion during a game after he was punched from behind by the Vancouver Canucks' Todd Bertuzzi.
It was a brutal move that Moore, and many NHL fans, never saw coming.
Since then - and many senseless attacks later - a good number of fans have turned against fighting in the NHL. I agree and believe over-the-top, dirty fighting is uncalled for.
It interrupts the game and often results in devastating injuries that can affect a team's entire season.
There is no place in the NHL for that kind of behavior.
I feel the same way about staged fights. A common strategy for staged fights is when two players drop the gloves immediately after a faceoff. When these fights happen, it is easy to get disgusted because although it is often intended to send a message to teammates, the message I get is that the players' heads are not in the game.
Even though I am against this kind of violence, if the NHL were to try and ban all fighting, it would probably be a mistake.
Current penalties for fighting are pretty sound. Granted, there is some gray area in terms of staged fighting, but violence like Bertuzzi's usually results in a multi-game suspension and criminal charges.
However, when a fight breaks out between two frustrated players, it is hard to deny the incredible influence it can have on a team's momentum.
Momentum can be so important in hockey - as it is in most sports - that to a certain extent, some fighting may be necessary.
One of the best examples of what I am talking about came in Game 6 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. As the Philadelphia Flyers scored their third goal to make it 3-0, it looked like they were going to force a Game 7 with their instate rival Pittsburgh Penguins.
Shortly after this goal, a fight ensued between Maxime Talbot of the Pens and the Flyers' Daniel Carcillo that helped swing the momentum.
After the fight, the Penguins looked like a different team as they came back to win the game and end the series that night.
No matter which team you were pulling for, that fight helped shape the outcome of the game. Games like that show that with the right timing, fighting has its place in hockey.
It can show a player's commitment to their team and desire to win. Not all fights are mindless, Neanderthal acts of violence; they can be used as a tool to change the game.
Fans fed up with fighting will be happy to know that the number of NHL brawls actually decreased last season compared to the 2008-2009 season.
But don't expect to see fighting banned anytime soon. It has been too woven into hockey's tradition to be banned. Most people, including myself, cringe when they see a cheap shot or dirty move happen. I am not advocating that behavior.
But the next time a fight breaks out, look at how each team's momentum is affected. The impact it has on the game is hard to miss.
Toney is a student at Penn State Altoona.