I'm happy to stipulate that the official tolerance for fighting in certain brands of ice hockey (NHL, major junior) is insane and that 96.3% of hockey fights are utterly ridiculous. It is a disgrace and understandably prevents many people from taking the sport seriously.
The "necessary safety valve" excuse is tantamount to admitting that the referees are incapable of controlling the game. Moreover, it suggests that the players cannot exercise the same restraint as players in college or Olympic hockey. Have they been hit in the head too many times?
But that having been said, I have to tell you something. When a couple of hockey fans are watching a baseball game and an on-field "fight" breaks out, knowing eye-contact tends to be made.
And the unspoken message is "The only danger here is that someone might twist an ankle on the pitcher's mound while they're dancing around."