Hockey is one of the greatest sports ever; it has been around for over 100 years and consists of many different aspects that make it a great game. Hockey has things such as amazing dekes and dangles, big hits and most importantly fighting. Fighting has been in the NHL basically since it started and has changed over the many years the game has been played. More rules have come out to enforce the game and penalize players for fighting. Players such as enforcers were introduced to the game to basically protect the star players and fight people in general.
Normally going to a hockey game, seeing a fight is one of the best things to happen, aside from the home team winning. Fighting has been part of the NHL since the rules of the sport were first written in the 1800s. The “Original Six” era saw fighting established as an ordinary part of the NHL game according to Jamie Fitzpatrick in the article “History of Hockey Fights.” Throughout the years there have been many “goons” who have been the tough guys on teams. Teams such as the Philadelphia Flyers have used fighting and intimidation as core tactics during the 70s.
Many NHL teams have had “tough guys” on them for many years, these players are meant to harass players on the opponent team to try and get some penalties called or even to pump up the crowd. These players are still on teams these days, they go out on the ice to fight someone to give their own team some motivation. These players were also known as “goons” and they were really big during the 70s. Many fights during those years involved several players and a few were even bench-clearing brawls. Because of all the fights during this era it caused the NHL to create a rule that any player joining a fight in progress would be ejected from the game. Not to long after that the league also decided that a play leaving the bench to join a fight would receive a 5-to-10 game suspension.
There are several different ways that fighting it still a good thing to have in the game. In the article “Top 10 Reasons Why the NHL Needs to Keep fighting in the Game,” Andrew Maggio talks about how no one will ever question a player for defending a teammate and having to fight someone. This is in every sport not just hockey, teammates defend each other, it happens in baseball with dugouts emptying and full teams running at each other. It also happens in football when offensive linemen pull down defensive players for getting a late hit on their quarterback. Fighting is also a huge momentum shift in hockey, winning a fight can pump a team and the crowd. Fighting is unique to hockey, it is one of the main aspects of the game and has been in it for many and many years. The physicality of the sport is what differentiates t from the other big professional sports, aside from the NFL that is. But you never really hear any football fans complain that they shouldn’t be allowed to hit each other.
If fighting wasn’t a part of the NHL the alternative would be much worse, more people would get injured from dangerous hits and vicious hacks with a players stick. Some players would find different ways to injure certain players and there will be no was to retaliate if there is no fighting for a bad hit on a top player. Most, if not all, NHL teams have players that are literally on the team to protect the star players and basically be a bodyguard when they are needed. When most people go to a hockey game they talk about hoping they will see a fight happen. Years ago you could go to every game and expect to see a fight or at least some type of big physical argument. It doesn’t happen as much anymore but when you go to a game and see a fight its one of the best things in the sport in my opinion. It makes you think what the game would be like if there was no fighting. Sometimes it is nice to go to a big game and see a nice clean hockey game where its just constant skating and great moves but the fighting pumps up the crowd and the teams.
Now one of the worst things that can happen when you go to a hockey game is when a player gets injured. Hockey players can get injured from a number of different things such as getting hit into the boards from behind or just a lower body injury from pushing themselves to hard. An injury is defined as a particular form or instance of harm, so technically an injury could just be a player missing a game. Players miss games every night, it could be due to a physical injury or even just sickness. An injury is defined as a particular form or instance of harm. A study was done by Laura Donaldson during the 2009 – 2012 seasons on how many players were injured. This study was on all 1307 NHL players participating in regular season games. Within the 3-season time period, 825 of the 1307 NHL players missed at least 1 game due to injury. That is about 63% of the players. Within a single 82 game regular season, 50.9% of all players were out for 1 game or more.
The big thing with injuries is that they cost the teams a lot of money. The total lost salary costs due to injury over the 3-year study was $653 million. Of that $653 million, $128.5 was for injuries of concussions. Concussion are a huge injury in most sports, during this study 323 concussions or suspected concussions were recorded.
A smaller study was done during 10 weeks from each of the three seasons to determine the most costly injury. During those 30 weeks 870 injuries occurred. The injury that occurred the most was a leg/foot injury. Those were 241 of the 870 injuries that happened in that period, which was 30% of all the injuries that occurred during the 3 weeks. Those 241 injuries cost about $68 million.
In the NHL there are also many players that have rarely ever missed a game. From the article “Ranking the 10 Most Durable Players in the NHL,” written by Rob Vollman, he states that one of these players that rarely misses a game is Jarome Iginla, during his 1299 games played he only missed 1253. A few of the games that he missed were because of a knee injury in 2006-07 season. Another player that has hardly missed a game is Henrik Sedin, out of his 973 games played he only missed 963. At the age of 33 Henrik Sedin had the second-longest active iron man streak, this means he has played a consecutive amount of games without missing any. His streak, at the time of this article, was 652 consecutive games. One amazing thing that Henrik Sedin did was play most of the 2011 playoffs with a major back injury. This just shows that some players love the game and the fans so much that they play through injuries just to try and win.
Players miss games almost every night in the NHL and other professional sports. This could be from a physical injury or possibly just a simple cold. It is possible that they may also have a family emergency and they would miss a game. Technically all of these are types of injuries and cause players to not be able to play on a specific night.
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.
Although hockey is one of the greatest sports in my opinion, it does have so bad aspects to it. Fighting is partially one of them. Although fighting is awesome and one of the greatest parts of the sport, it has some cons to it. Several players have been really injured from fighting and being an enforcer in the game.
Players such as Robert Frid who fought hundreds of times over three years of junior hockey and eight seasons in the minor leagues. In the article by Arthur Caplan he talks about how Frid has had at least 75 concussions and was knocked unconscious many times. Frid has also been declared permanently disable in his 30s. Frid, now 41 at the time of the article, doesn’t think he has much time left. This is insanely sad for a man that played the sport of hockey. He is most likely suffereing brain damage from all the hits he took, his long-term memory is poor, he has anxiety disorder and headaches. He is not alone either, many players who were enforcers now deal with thing such as depression, pain and even suicides.
Most people don’t know that hockey fights are illegal in European leagues, the Olympics, at the collegiate level, and in Women’s leagues, this is stated in the article written by Ben Kreiger “Death of the Enforcer: 4 Reasons Why fighting In Hockey Should be Banned.” The NHL and some of its subsidiaries are the only leagues in the world that condone fighting. While in collegiate and European leagues fighting is punished by ejection and suspension, the NHL only gives a five minute penalty. Fighting in the NHL reflects how American sports tend to value violence, as an athletic ability. Many people think that fighting helps the attendance for a team, statistically, it doesn’t. Over the last two decades as fighting has decreased attendance has surprisingly increased. In the 2015-16 season there were 0.28 fights per game, which is the lowest ratio since the 1967-68 season.
One of the most well-respected, toughest men in the game George Parros hung up the skates on December 5, 2014. In the article written by Katie Strang she talks about how Parros had 1,092 penalty minutes over his nine years in the NHL but he was also know as a terrific teammate and one of hockey’s most thoughtful articulate ambassadors. Sadly his career ended because of an injury in the prior season, although he had since recovered but no teams wanted him along with many other enforcers that were still in the league.
A team such as the Flyers who have always been known to be the enforcers in the league, cut Jay Rosehill who was the last real enforcer the team had. Its crazy to think that the team nicknamed “The Broad-Street Bullies” could not be bullies anymore. Even Rosehill said himself, “They’ve always had a guy in that role, ever since Dave Schiltz, its just head-spinning how fast it happened.” He is probably talking about how quickly fighting has decreased in the league in general. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson states in the same article, “The game is officiated differently now. You can’t do what the Flyers did years ago, you can’t intimidate teams. Intimidation doesn’t work.” The Flyers have always been known as the team to be afraid of, as the nickname states, they were the bullies.
Anymore, teams need to have four lines that can all help the team win. The way players intimidate the other teams these days are by scoring goals and displaying crazy amounts of skill. With fighting you get penalized and sit in the penalty box or sometimes in the locker room while your team still tries to win. But with skill you score a goal and sit back on the bench and 2 minutes later you are back out on the ice ready to try and score again. Being able to step up for a teammate and fight sometimes is still necessary, but as a player you need to be able to go out and score a goal or dish a sick pass so your teammate scores. Nowadays, players need to have extensive amounts of skill to play, as the game get faster every year, the players need to advance with it.
Hockey has changed over the last 100 years since it has been a professional sport, it went from being just six teams to now 31 with the newest team starting this year. The rules and way it is played have also changed since it has started as well. Fighting was one of the biggest parts of the game but now you could watch 10 games before a fight might happen. I do believe it should still be a part of the game because of how fun it is to watch two men in full equipment throw punches at each other until one hits the ice. I grew up watching the Flyers who have also been the team to be scared to play against because of the hard hitters and enforcers they had on the team. Now the last time I watch a Flyers game that had a fight in it was months ago it feels. Fighting does have its disadvantages though, many of these enforcers have been several injured from what they did during their careers. Maybe it is a good thing that fighting doesn’t occur as much anymore, not as many people get injured from getting punched in the face theses days. But what happens when someone takes a run at your teams top player, should his teammates just stand around and look like they wish they could do something or would you want them to get revenge and maybe make some guy lose another tooth.
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Caplan, Arthur. “Why Hockey Should Ban Fighting.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 7 Mar. 2016
Donaldson, L., Li, B., & Cusimano, M. D. (2014). Economic burden of time lost due to injury in NHL hockey players. Injury Prevention, 20(5), 347.
Fitzpatrick, Jamie. “History of Hockey Fights.” ThoughtCo, 18 Mar. 2017
Krieger, Ben. “Death of the Enforcer: 4 Reasons Why Fighting In Hockey Should Be Banned.”Medium, Medium, 26 Apr. 2016
Kuc, Chris. “Why Is Fighting Vanishing from the NHL?” Chicagotribune.com, 8 Feb. 2016
Maggio, Andrew. “Top 10 Reasons Why the NHL Needs to Keep Fighting in the Game.”TheSportster, 20 Nov. 2014
Strang, Katie. “Catching up with Enforcers in Exile.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 26 Dec. 2014
Wawrow, John. “Tie Domi Concerned about Lack of NHL Enforcers.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 7 Jan. 2017
Vollman, Rob. “Ranking the 10 Most Durable Players in the NHL.” Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report, 12 Apr. 2017