A slim majority of Canadians believe NHL fights should be banished to the penalty box — for good — a new poll suggests.

A Canadian Press/Harris-Decima survey conducted during the NHL all-star weekend indicates 54 per cent of the Canadian public think fighting should be ousted from the league. Forty per cent believe it should remain.

But the same question posed to the most passionate NHL fans revealed that 68 per cent think players should continue to duke it out.

The poll indicated that only 30 per cent of people who follow the NHL closely say the league should eliminate fisticuffs from the game.

“Opinion is pretty split on this issue. There’s a slight majority overall among Canadians that say that they think fighting should probably be banned from hockey,” said Jeff Walker, Harris-Decima’s senior vice-president.

“However, you’ve got a core group of hockey fans — the most ardent fans —who do not want fighting banned from hockey at all.”

The debate over fighting in the NHL was reignited in recent weeks after Ontario senior league player Don Sanderson, 21, died following a fight in which he hit his head on the ice.

Last week, Garrett Klotz of the Philadelphia Phantoms was taken off the ice on a stretcher after suffering a seizure following a bout in the AHL.

The NHL plans to officially examine the role of fighting in the game during the GMs’ meeting in March.

Tale of the tape
• Among Conservative party supporters, 48 per cent support fighting, compared with 38 per cent of Liberals.

• Thirty-seven per cent of Canadians who earn less than $60,000 a year, 46 per cent of those who make between $60,000 and $100,000 annually and 43 per cent of people who bring home more than $100,000 support fights.