Happy Boxing Day everyone! In the spirit of Boxing Day I’d like to take the time to have the ever-present NHL debate: fighting.
I am pro-fighting in the NHL, a position that seems to be less and less popular by the day, but I view it as a benefit to the game when it is done properly.
A staged fight between two players deciding to fight for the sake of fighting one second after puck drop is a useless exercise. It provides no benefit to the game and gives hockey a bad reputation. Overreaction over a good, solid, clean hit should also be deemed unacceptable.
So what constitutes a “proper” time to drop the gloves? When a player crosses the line, making a dirty play, there should be repercussions beyond the penalty box. Yes, sitting a few minutes in the box is punishment, but it is a punishment for the entire team, sometimes a message needs to be sent more directly. Exchanging a few fists is a far more targeted punishment method. Players have policed themselves in the NHL in this way for years, in my opinion it creates a healthy respect for both teammates and opponents. It also prevents star players from being targeted with intent to injure.
I am aware that there is no logical way to enforce stricter rules, or even make clear definitive rules, on fights that are ‘unnecessary’ mid-game, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be an attempt to mete out further justice on players that fight without cause after games. The league has a review board already, and there aren’t many fights, a quick review of the plays leading to fights wouldn’t be an issue. Plus, it would prevent unneeded altercations that slow down the game from happening. A fine or one game suspension would all but eliminate the “bad fights” from the NHL, the type of fights the league is looking to truly eliminate anyway.
The Islanders have not done much fighting this year. The Isles have received only eight fighting majors this season, the seventh fewest in the NHL, according to HockeyFights.com. Unsurprisingly, Matt Martin leads the team with five fighting majors, Travis Hamonic has dropped the mitts twice and Anders Lee rounds out the Isles pugilists with one fight.
There are .35 fights per game in the NHL this year, a rate that is the lowest for any year shown on HockeyFights.com. I am all for the league reducing the amount of fights in the league, putting the focus of the fans on the ability of the their players to actually play the game, but outlawing fighting completely would be a mistake.
Feel free to give your thoughts on fighting in the NHL in the comments section.