December 12, 2008 is a day Mike Sanderson will never forget. Following a tussle with another player, Mike’s son, 21-year-old hockey player Don Sanderson, fell to the ice, hitting his head. After three weeks in a coma, Don Sanderson died. His death re-ignited a simmering debate – never far from the surface in this country – about fighting in hockey.
For those who know hockey best – the players and the coaches – the game, and the fighting, are governed by an unwritten law some insist makes the sport safer. They call it The Code and claim it's about pride, solidarity, even sportsmanship. The Code is often upheld by a player who is the biggest and the toughest – the enforcer – whose talent on the ice lies not in scoring goals, but in protecting his teammates and exacting revenge on an opponent who dares to take a shot at his team’s star player.
In this fifth estate investigation, you will meet some of the men who, for better or worse, have lived by The Code. Reporter Bob McKeown interviews players, hockey officials and sports commentators, including Don Cherry and Bob McCown, in this in-depth look at both sides of the debate.
Former NHLers Nick Kypreos and Marty McSorley re-live their experience of The Code and how it ended their hockey careers, but for very different reasons. Viewers will hear from the NHL’s current “heavyweight champion,” Montreal Canadiens’ Georges Laraque as well as Brian Burke, President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And Bob McKeown interviews Don Sanderson’s father, Mike, for whom fighting in hockey is not a debate, but a tragedy.