Sorry, I'm just not sold on the deaths of Boogaard, Belak, Rypien, and to an extent Probert being due to hits more-so than the fights. If it was Kayira-type players dying in the off-season then I'd side with hitting being worse than repeated punches to the skull, but that's not the case.
I played Juniors, I played semi-pro, I saw first hand the dread that enforcers had of their next fight, and knowing damn well the only way they can get that next paycheck is to go out and fight.
I just don't see the need for it to continue, it's a hazardous unhealthy job, I understand enforcers always have a choice, they don't have to pursue NHL fighting, but once you reach that point in juniors, that's your job if you ever want to play in the NHL. I think the NHL needs to outlaw it and save these player's from themselves, I don't see a reason the NHL should keep promoting fighting. I understand hitting would be next, I wouldn't like it, but if it will end up saving lives then I might change my mind, but I can't recall an NHLer that died prematurely due to hits, that didn't have a premature heart condition, or a situation like Masterson's. It took Ludek Cajka's death for no touch icing to be introduced for example.
Terrence Tootoo, Trevor Ettinger, Don Sanderson(hit head on ice after fight), Boogard, Rypien all died do to suicide/drugs, all were heavily involved with fighting. Only two other cases of drug/suicide the past ten years that weren't enforcers, Roman Lyashenko, Tom Cavangah(was hospitalized several for schizophrenia).
Selected stories do not prove causality. More injuries do occur in the NHL from hitting than from fighting.
You're arguing a mental aspect of enforcers, not the physical. Are enforcers more likely to abuse drugs, or are drug abusers more likely to be enforcers? These issues are generally long-standing, and began before the player had their first NHL fight. Pronger, Savard, Sauer, Crosby, etc have all missed major time, or will not play again, due to head injuries. The physical effects are the same, but the mental aspect may be different.
NFL players have had similar issues, but they do not fight. Unfortunately, these situations occur with contact sports.