According to Rule 46 in the NHL rulebook, “a fight shall be deemed to have occurred when at least one player punches or attempts to punch an opponent repeatedly or when two players wrestle in such a manner as to make it difficult for the Linesmen to intervene and separate the combatants.”
If you can’t tell if it’s a fight, just look at the arena and see if the crowd is on their feet yelling, screaming, banging on the glass, etc. That is usually a pretty big indication of a fight.
“I hate when I go to a fight and a hockey game breaks out." Hockey fans often hear this jab about fights allowed in the game of ice hockey.
Hockey isn’t necessarily known only for fights on the ice, but fighting definitely comes along with the sport. That’s why I don’t think fighting should be removed from the NHL. It’s a part of the sport.
Many people argue that the game would be better and safer without fights breaking out. Safety is an important part of the game, but fights aren’t the only thing that can injure a player in the game of hockey. It’s hockey. If you’re worried about safety, you may want to reevaluate your opinion, as more players get injured from checks into the boards or being hit from behind.
There is also the fact that fighting has greatly decreased throughout the league over the past 15 years.
Let’s take a look at the 2014-2015 hockey fight statistics. According to hockeyfights.com, the percentage of games that a fight occurred was 26.91 percent with a fight being counted when at least one player involved received a fighting major. Only 48 out of the 1230 games had more than one fight. The number of players that had been involved in a fight (not exactly the number that had received a fighting major) for the 2014-2015 season was around 276 players.
Looking back at the 2000-2001 season, hockeyfights.com reported that the percentage of fights that occurred was 38.13 percent. Out of the 1230 games played, 155 of them had more than one fight. The number of players involved in a fight for that season was 329.
We can see significant changes in fighting throughout the last 14 seasons of NHL hockey. It’s naturally decreased without a ban or regulation. Players are aware of the consequences of fighting; a “five for fighting” is given or a 5-minute major penalty is given. If a player leaves the bench to join a fight or tries to use a “weapon” while fighting, he is immediately ejected from the game.
These players know what they’re getting into when they throw a punch or drop the gloves. They are punished for doing so, as well. Fights may be glamorized by fans, but they are reprimanded by the league.
What takes away from the sport are the staged fights--the fights where everyone is expecting it to happen among the goons, instigators, and enforcers on the team. Back in 2009, an article on nhl.com discussed how the NHL planned to combat these fights by proposing a rule change to the Competition Committee. The League looked to enforce stricter penalties for players who fight directly off of a faceoff, which have been determined to be staged fights in most instances.
Hockey fights are a part of the game. Let two players get in a scuffle to show some retaliation or intimidation. Everyone loves when two foes go at it. What’s the big deal if two players want to fight? Most are stopped by the officials anyway.
These players aren't fighting for no reason. There is a method to their madness. These fights are to boost momentum. Players are trying to motivate their teams to get them to finish strong. It's not senseless punching.
Take, for example, the April 25, 2009 playoff game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. During the second period, the Penguins were down three to zero. Penguins forward, Max Talbot instigated a fight against Flyers enforcer Dan Carcillo, his former AHL teammate on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Pittsburgh Penguins' minor league affiliate. The two began jawing before the faceoff and dropped the gloves at the same time that the puck was dropped.
Although Talbot lost the fight, he raised his finger to his lip to hush the Philadelphia crowd as he was ushered to the penalty box. After that fight, the Penguins went on to defeat the Flyers 5 to 3. This fight still goes down in Pens history as the momentum boost the team needed to propel them to the franchise's third Stanley Cup victory.
There is a purpose to fighting in hockey. Not only has affected the outcomes of many games, but it has helped to motivate teams and get them fired up. Disregarding the safety concerns, which have been proven to be less dangerous than a check to the boards, hockey fights are essential to the game. They have been in the game since the NHL originated in 1917, and I think they should be here to stay.