how fast are these guys traveling when they're coasting or picking up steam. it's a fast game. the sheer velocity of that elbow could've killed him.
i always hate it when proponents for fighting argue that it's a necessary part of the game and fail to leave out how fast it is. pads or no pads, you're dealing with bone, wood, ice, steel, and a litany of other career ending objects. using them as weapons is criminal, and if you go by what is categorized as criminal intent, then a lot of the shit that goes on in hockey is criminally punishable.
the problem is the gladiator code and the necessity acts and violent sports play in the psychology of civilization. there's a lot of pissed off people, angry at the world, who don't know how to deal with this in any other way than watching some guy get pummeled. or worse.