FIghting in Hockey

Is Fighting Permitted in Hockey? – The Top 3 Advantages and Disadvantages

Is fighting permitted in Hockey? Fighting is permitted in hockey because it provides a dimension to the game that is lacking in almost all major sports leagues throughout the world. According to the rulebook, the NHL is the only major sports league in the United States where fighting is permitted.

However, fans of the game have recently begun to question why it is still included in the game. Fighting in the NHL has valid grounds both for and against it, which we will address in the next section. There were 372 fights in the 2016-2017 National Hockey League (NHL) season, with an average of 0.3 fights per game. Outside of the NHL, fighting in hockey is prohibited almost everywhere, including minor games, college games, and the Winter Olympics.


Since the league’s founding in 1917 until the 1922 regulation prohibiting “fisticuffs” (an old-fashioned term for fighting), fighting has been a component of NHL hockey. Fighting is addressed in Rule 46 of the current NHL rulebook, which defines a fight as at least one player punching or swinging at another player repeatedly, or players wrestling in a difficult-to-break-up manner.

Players that fight during the game are sent to the penalty box and may face further penalties or suspensions. In the early 1960s, roughly 20% of NHL games featured a brawl. By the 1980s, that ratio had raised to 100 percent, with an average of one fight every game. The NHL implemented an instigator rule in 1992, which gave anyone who started a fight an extra two minutes in the penalty box.

Since then, fighting has declined: from the 2000/2001 season to the 2013/2014 season, a fight broke out in 29-40% of NHL games. Since then, the percentage of games involving fights has significantly fallen, from 27% in 2014/2015 to 17% in 2018/2019.

Top 3 Advantages and Disadvantages of Fighting in Hockey


1. Allowing fighting in the sport makes it safer for everyone because it holds players accountable.

Referees frequently miss illegal body checking, hits with hockey sticks, and other harsh plays in professional hockey because it is such a fast-paced sport. Fighting in retaliation brings accountability and prevents additional risky plays from occurring.

Hockey players don’t fight solely for fighting; fighting in the context of the game serves as a deterrent to aggressors who know there will be retaliation. On the ice, you have to police yourself occasionally, according to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos… When you see a fight now, it’s a reaction to something that happened on the ice that someone didn’t like. That is something I believe you require. It’s good for you.

Fighting, according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, may prevent further injuries in a fast-paced, emotional, and physically demanding game. Brandon Prust, a former professional hockey player, agreed, saying that he promised more guys will get wounded from an increase in open-ice body checks if they take fighting out.

2. Fighting attracts spectators and raises the entertainment value of the game.

According to a poll published in the Toronto Star newspaper, the majority of hockey fans oppose a fighting ban and believe that on-ice brawls are an important element of the game at the professional level. Fighting persists in hockey because we enjoy watching others fight, according to Travis Hughes, an SB Nation hockey writer.

Hockey brawl clips receive millions of views on YouTube and are aired on ESPN’s SportsCenter. Brawls boost attendance: a study of hockey attendance indicated that violence, particularly fighting, tended to draw large crowds across the United States and Canada.


Fighting distinguishes the NHL from other sports since no other team sport allows brawling. Fights can add entertainment value, influence a game, and have fans buzzing for days.

I think the NHL is mindful of the fact that they can’t eradicate it and convert it into a non-contact sport because I don’t think it’ll sell… especially in America where the game is still developing.

3. Fighting is a tradition in hockey that is codified in the official regulations as well as an unwritten code among the players.

In a 2012 poll, 98 percent of NHL players stated they don’t want to see fighting banned in the sport. The NHL rulebook governs fighting, which is an important component of the professional game.

Hockey is, and always has been, a sport mired in a culture of violence, according to Ross Bernstein, author of The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL. Players, on the other hand, have learned to navigate through the mazes and labyrinths of physical touch by following an honor code.

The rule, which has purportedly lasted for over 100 years, governs who can fight and for what reasons. Fighting is less common in the postseason when teams are focused on winning the title, indicating that players follow an unwritten code.


1. Professional fighting provides a horrible example for children.

Even though fighting is prohibited in minor leagues, young hockey players are continually imitating the legal and criminal strategies utilized by professionals. Because their brains are not completely matured, the harmful physical impacts of fighting are considerably more pronounced for young athletes.

Concussions can cause persistent learning and cognitive problems in young athletes, many of which may not be diagnosed until they reach adulthood. Young hockey players are roughly four times more likely than young football players to have catastrophic spinal cord and brain injuries.

According to Michael Cusimano, MD, a neurosurgeon, everything done at a professional level in athletics is almost quickly imitated by children who love their idols. NHL players should be aware of this as well and should offer a better example for our children.

Most of what players are seeking to accomplish by fighting can be accomplished by having more penalties called throughout the game, which sends a better message to youngsters about dispute resolution.

2. In hockey, fighting is glorified as a kind of violence.

According to Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail, hockey is a sport that uses violence to solve its issues.

According to a study published in the journal Men and Masculinities, allowing hockey players to fight creates a culture where fighting is respected and valued. Interpersonal aggressiveness is widespread in the lives of these hockey players, both on and off the ice, according to the findings of this study.

When hockey players accept and normalize the use of violence, they are more inclined to engage in other types of aggression.


According to one research, those pursuing a career in professional hockey are more likely than non-hockey players and people who play hockey as a hobby to commit sexual assault and have violent relationships.

Hockey violence makes spectators more aggressive in the stands and off the ice, according to research.

3. Concussions, mental health issues, and death are all consequences of hockey fighting.

Fighting, according to neurologist Charles H. Tator, Ph.D., MD, accounts for 10% of all concussions in hockey. In confidential emails, NHL executives conveyed their belief that fighting may lead to concussions, long-term health concerns, and excessive pain medication usage.

Fighting, according to Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner increases the risk of brain injuries/concussions, which increases the risk of depression, which increases the risk of personal tragedy.


Derek Boogaard, a former NHL player, played an unofficial role known as an enforcer, which is a player whose sole aim is to fight as a method of retaliating against the opposition team’s dirty behavior.

Doctors analyzed Boogaard’s brain after he died in 2011 at the age of 28 and discovered that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is thought to be caused by repeated head traumas. Two more enforcers died within four months of their other in the same year, increasing worries about the physical, mental, and emotional toll that combat has on players.

Is Fighting permited in hockey

5 Reasons Why Fighting Should Remain in the NHL

All of the concern about concussions and brain damage in the NHL has reignited the argument about fighting’s place in today’s game.

Because of the increased understanding of concussions, many people believe that fighting no longer has a place in the NHL because it is too detrimental to the players’ health. Then there are the horrible occurrences involving Wade Belak, Rick Rypien, and Derek Boogaard during last year’s summer.

Another factor that is causing people to reconsider whether or not fighting should be permitted is the mental health of gamers who do fight. Despite the current anti-fighting sentiment, here are five (5) reasons why fighting should continue to be a part of the NHL.

1. Policing

Fighting is an effective technique for players to keep track of one another. With the introduction of the fight instigator penalty, this ability has been decreased over time, but the premise remains the same.

Players understand that if they make a hit on another player, especially a star player, they must be willing to step up and accept responsibility for their actions. This is especially true in the case of dirty plays. If someone takes a shot at one of your men and it seems even the smallest bit dirty, expect that team to rush the offending player and exact some sort of retaliation.

It may sound like something you’d see on the playground, but in a sport where dirty plays can and do result in significant injuries, the players who make them need something to think about. Suspensions and penalties are manageable for players, but if they know another player is about to knock their teeth out for anything, they may reconsider.

2. It creates rivalries.

Why do fans always seem to enjoy games involving teams who have a sour rivalry? It’s not because the skating was better in those games; it’s because the adrenaline level is so high in such games that everyone knows many fights might break out at any time.

Because of the high level of activity, fans and players enjoy the atmosphere that surrounds certain games. If combat is removed from the game, such sorts of rivalries will no longer have the same sense as they have now.

3. Fighting Is More Effective Than Maiming

Which would you prefer: a pair of people with a grudge dropping the gloves to resolve their differences or a couple of guys aiming to get the best cheap shot on their opponent? Fighting is a much safer and less bloody means for gamers to settle their differences.

Is it still common for players to take cheap shots like the one shown in the video? We do, but if combat were removed from the game, this kind of situation would become considerably more common.

Hockey is a fast-paced, physically demanding sport. The style of play described above is the result of that type of play paired with some passionate guys with a short fuse. Fighting prevents risky moves from taking place.

4. It Has an Effect on the Game

The announcers are keen to point out how some players will discard their gloves to motivate their side. Jarome Iginla is one player who is known for trying to energize his teammates. If he thinks his squad needs a boost, he’ll locate someone to join them.

Fighting has a significant influence on the game, and it is much more than two people throwing bombs at each other because they don’t like the other’s appearance. Fights are responsible for momentum changes; teams will credit their fighter with victories since he went out and set the tone for the game.

Fighting would be eradicated from hockey, and it would be a significant game-changing aspect.

5. Fan Favorite

You may call it disgusting, childish, or anything you wish. The plain reality is that hockey fans enjoy fighting during games. Not only do most hockey aficionados like the added aspect of fighting, but fighting also appeals to casual spectators.

How many times have you overheard someone declare that they came to a game only to watch a fight? Fighting, as disturbing and Romanesque as it may be, helps bring people to the stadium and money into the team’s coffers. Fighting will continue in the league as long as this is the case.


Fighting is a topic that brings up strong emotions in the hearts of many hockey fans across the world. There’s a lot to enjoy about what fighting does for the game and how much it’s been a part of it for such a long time. Along with the pros, there is a slew of drawbacks. There is no way to make everyone pleased with this approach, as there is with most things in life. Fighting must, in the end, remain a part of hockey.

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