Fighting is one of the biggest parts of the NHL and if it wasn’t there the game would be completely different. Some players wouldn’t have jobs anymore because they are on teams to be enforcers. If fighting was not in the NHL there would not be much to pump up the crowd aside from scoring goals. Players would not motivate their own team if they get in a fight and win it. You can’t protect your teams star player when he gets hit really bad if there is no fighting. Fighting is a crucial part to the game and should never be removed.
One of the biggest modern game’s true enforcers, John Scott would be praised by his teammates for protecting them on the ice. But he also got so much hate for fighting because that was basically all he was on many teams for. In the article by Chris Kuc called “Why is fighting vanishing from the NHL?” he talks about how hard it has been for Scott to find someone willing to drop the gloves with him. Opponents would often turn down his requests to fight during his time playing for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010-12. Fighting is already starting to decrease, in 2016 fighting was down 16 percent from the year before and 40 percent from the 2012-13 season.
The NHL stated that through February 4th, 2016 there was a total of 212 fights in a combined 767 games for an average of .28 per contest. Through the same number of games in the 2013-14 season there were 332 fights which was .43 per game. Over the years fighting has definitely decreased and is slowly decreasing more and more. Years ago team would usually use their fourth line to be enforcers and just go out on the ice to rough some people up. Nowadays, with the game becoming so competitive, many teams are focusing more on skill and having four line that can help with a game.
In the same article by Chris Kuc, NHLPA Executive Director Tonal Fehr said “This is a very physical game where guys are expending a lot of energy and a lot of adrenaline, It can get really heated because at the elite level of this sport, if you’re not emotionally involved in the game and want to win as much as you can breathe, you’re not staying in this league.” Many players these days don’t have enough energy to push themselves as much as they do playing to also be bale to get into a fight. Majority of the time when a fight does occur these days its because of a big hit or as a way for players to police the game. When I was growing up and going to hockey games and watching them on TV many players would just skate up to each other and say “You want to go?” This happened pretty often and it was really meant to pump up their team or get the crowd going. It was always one of the best things to see two players behind the play just talking and then start throwing punches. It really got everyone going but in the last couple years I haven’t seen that and if so its very rare.
Nowadays an enforcer is a rare sight on the ice. Tie Domi, who spent 16 years establishing a reputation for being one of the NHL’s fiercest enforcers, talks about his worry about his son Max Domi who plays now in the NHL in the article written by John Wawrow. Domi talks about how he is concerned about his son since the league has basically eliminated the role of on-ice police. Back when he played they used to make people accountable for what they did to other players but now its such a different taste. It has really only taken one generation to change the era of the game, ending the tough guy era and becoming a faster, leaner and far less gap-toothed era.
One of the greatest known goons was Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, he played for the Flyers in the 1970s and stood out as an enforcer on a team that was already physical and aggressive. According to the article by Ben Alberstadt, during one playoff campaign, Schultz spent 139 minutes in the penalty box in 17 games. During the Flyers cup-winning 1974-75 season he spent a ludicrous 472 minutes in the box. Another great enforcer was Dave “Tiger” Williams, who spent more than 4,400 minutes in the penalty box during his 14- year career. Williams averaged 4.12 penalty minutes per game in the box. He crossed 300 penalty minutes in a season six times during his career. He also crossed 250 penalty mark 10 times, which is very impressive. In 1987 Williams also did something very unique for being an enforcer: release a cookbook entitled Done like Dinner: Tiger in the Kitchen. If fighting was never a part of the game these guys like many others would have never played and never have the achievements they had in their careers.
If fighting was never put into the NHL theses players that are meant to be enforcers may have never played the game. Many of these players did not have the skill to be a normally skilled player that would go out on the ice and score goals, they instead would go out on the ice to lay a big hit on someone or get into a fight. Some of them were on a team to protect the star players and police the ice and make people accountable for what they did to other players and got away with it.
Alberstadt, Ben. “The 10 Greatest Enforcers in NHL History.” TheRichest, 1 Jan. 1970
Kuc, Chris. “Why Is Fighting Vanishing from the NHL?” Chicagotribune.com, 8 Feb. 2016,
Wawrow, John. “Tie Domi Concerned about Lack of NHL Enforcers.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 7 Jan. 2017