Hockey players soon may need to think twice before dropping the gloves
Fighting in Hockey: Will it soon become a thing of the past?
It’s a given that fighting in hockey has been the norm ever since the first teams hit the ice. Who can forget the Broadstreet Bullies? The Philadelphia Flyers of the 1970s were feared across the NHL for their toughness, as well as their skills and loyalty to each other.
In modern times, certain teams have made a reputation for themselves. Among them are some of the top teams in the league, known for employing dirty tricks on the ice. Two of those are the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins, teams which have cemented their records as those with the most hockey fights over the last 10 seasons.
Take for instance the Bruins: They are the first team to have the most instigator penalties since the 2010-2011 season, with 371 fighting majors. The team is also believed to have initiated 21 altercations within this same time frame.
The Ducks too have a record of their own, ranking second in fighting majors. They have been involved in 363 fracases over the prior seasons. When it comes to instigator penalties Anaheim has only 9, which points to the fact that they rarely are the ones that initiate those fights.
In terms of aggressive play it’s the New York Islanders who take the prize, followed by the Florida Panthers. Both teams have had a combined total of 34 instigator penalties, with the Panthers notching 15 and the Islanders 19. Some of the other NHL teams with a reputation for being involved in the most fighting in hockey include the Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, and the Columbus Blue Jackets. They each have racked up 323, 309, and 316 fighting majors, respectively, since the 2010-2011 season. The Toronto Maple Leafs, on the other hand, have just a single instigator penalty accrued within those 10 seasons, becoming the only team involved in the least number of hockey fights.
Such a statistic is bound to cause ripples among hockey’s most ardent fans. Many of them will be wondering if fighting in hockey is nearing the end of its run, especially in these pandemic times. There has been a lot of controversy on this issue, with a growing majority claiming that fighting does more harm than good in the long run.
Hockey fights are believed to be among the leading causes of injury in the sport, with most of them being entirely unnecessary. They also waste a great deal of time during games, and take away a lot of credibility in terms of skill that the game is meant to display in the first place.
The proponents of fighting in hockey want the fisticuffs to continue; they believe that they are an excellent way of preventing some of the most common dirty-play antics. They insist it encourages players to keep things in check, and how they conduct themselves on the ice. In their view, it is another tactic to help shield the star players from harm. Legions of fans believe that fighting is one of the more entertaining aspects of hockey. Those fans watch games and wait with anticipation, hoping to see players drop the gloves and square off.
The statistics above reveal a threatening narrative regarding the prospects for fighting in the game. On average, there were multiple fights every two hockey games played in the 2010-2011 season. This translated to 0.52 for each contest within that season. During the 2019-2020 season, this number decreased to 0.18 per game.
Generally, fighting in the National Hockey League has dropped by 70% during the past decade. The need for so-called “enforcers” on team rosters has fallen out of favor in recent times. Instead, teams are opting for speed and skill over fighting ability.
However things pan out, it should be noted that with the number of changes taking effect with the 2021 season, the days of hockey fights may very well be a thing of the past.