Why Are Fights Allowed In the NHL?

If you’re a fan of hockey, you’ve probably wondered why fighting is allowed in the NHL. After all, it’s a pretty brutal sport. Here’s a look at the reasons why fights are allowed in the NHL.

Why Are Fights Allowed In the NHL?


Many people are surprised to learn that fighting is allowed in the NHL. In fact, it is one of the only major professional sports leagues in which fighting is still allowed. While some fans enjoy watching fights, others find it unnecessary and even dangerous. So why is fighting still allowed in the NHL?

There are a few reasons why fighting is allowed in the NHL. First, it is seen as a way to deter other players from committing dirty or dangerous plays. If a player knows that he might have to fight if he commits a dirty play, he is less likely to do so. Additionally, fighting can be seen as a way to stand up for teammates who have been wronged on the ice. If one player punches another player on the ice, his teammates might fight the offender in order to protect their teammate and restore order. Finally, some fans enjoy watching fights and see them as an exciting part of hockey.

Of course, there are also several reasons why fighting is not allowed in other professional sports leagues. One reason is that it can be very dangerous. Players can sustain serious injuries from punches, falls, and boards during fights. Additionally, fights can lead to bad blood between players and teams, which can result in further violence on and off the playing field. Finally, many people believe that fighting has no place in sports and that it sets a bad example for children who are fans of the sport.

At the end of the day, whether or not to allow fighting in hockey is a decision for each individual league to make. The NHL has decided that fighting will remain a part of the game for now, but that could change in the future if public opinion shifts or if safety concerns become more prevalent.

The History of Fights in the NHL

Fights have been a part of the NHL since its inception in 1917. In the early years, fighting was seen as a way to police the game and settle disputes between players. In the modern era, fighting is seen as a way to generate excitement and energy for the fans. Let’s take a look at the history of fighting in the NHL.

The Early Years

The National Hockey League was founded in 1917, and fighting has been a part of the game from the very beginning. In the early days of the NHL, fighting was seen as a way to settle disputes on the ice and protect players from being physically harmed by their opponents. In those days, there were no rules governing fighting, and it was not uncommon for players to continue throwing punches even after their helmets had come off.

Fighting remained a part of the game throughout the first half of the 20th century, but it began to decline in popularity in the 1950s as more and more players were being suspended or expelled from games for their involvement in on-ice altercations. By the 1970s, fighting had all but disappeared from the NHL.

The 1970s

In the early 1970s, NHL president Clarence Campbell asked teams to refrain from fighting and focus on playing hockey. Though the decade was free of bench-clearing brawls, there were still isolated altercations between players. In December 1972, Boston Bruins defenseman Carol Vadnais went after St. Louis Blues forward David Tate, who had slashed Bruins player Johnny Bucyk. The fight caused a big stir because it resulted in Vadnais breaking Tate’s orbital bone and putting him out of commission for a month.

In March 1979, New York Rangers forward Walter Tkaczuk got into a fight with Minnesota North Stars player Bill Goldsworthy. Tkaczuk won the fight but ended up with a severe cut on his forehead that required 100 stitches to close.

The 1980s

The 1980s were a decade of change in the NHL. The league expanded from 21 to 24 teams, and the game itself saw a dramatic increase in speed and skill. But despite all the changes, one thing remained constant: fighting was still an integral part of the game.

In fact, the 1980s were something of a golden age for fighting in the NHL. The league leaders in penalty minutes during the decade were all tough guys, enforcers who made their living with their fists. And some of the most iconic moments in NHL history are fights that took place during this time.

One of the most famous fights of the 1980s took place between two of the biggest names in hockey: Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. The two superstars had been feuding for years, and they finally came to blows during a game in 1987. The fight was short but brutal, and it ended with Messier knocking Gretzky to the ice.

The rivalry between Gretzky and Messier was just one example of how fighting could add excitement to a hockey game. In an era when scoring was at a premium, a good old-fashioned brawl could often be the most entertaining part of a game. And with rivalries stoked by fighting, fans had even more reason to tune in.

Of course, not everyone was a fan of fighting in hockey. Critics said it was barbaric and had no place in a civilized sport. They pointed to studies that showed how head injuries sustained in fights could lead to long-term health problems for players. And they argued that fights only served to bring down the level of play on the ice, as players became more focused on settling scores than on playing hockey.

But for fans of fighters, these arguments fell on deaf ears. Fighting was part of hockey, plain and simple, and it wasn’t going away anytime soon.

The 1990s

In the 1990s, there was an uptick in fights and violence in the NHL. This was due to a number of factors, including the increased popularity of enforcers, the elimination of the two-line pass rule, and the lockout of 2004.

The increased popularity of enforcers can be traced back to the 1980s, when players like Bob Probert and Tie Domi started to gain notoriety for their fighting abilities. These players became fan favorites, and their success led to more teams employing enforcers on their rosters.

The elimination of the two-line pass rule also contributed to the increase in fights and violence in the NHL. This rule change allowed for more open-ice hits, which often led to on-ice altercations between players.

Finally, the lockout of 2004 led to a decrease in scoring and an increase in physical play. This resulted in moret fights and penalties being called during games.

The 2000s

In the 2000s, the NHL sought to reduce fighting by implementing several rule changes and attempting to discourage certain types of fights. The most significant rule change was the instigation rule, which was introduced in 1992 and states that a player who instigates a fight in the final five minutes of regulation or at any point in overtime receives an automatic game misconduct penalty.

In 2001, the NHL toughened its stance on fighting even further by introducing a new rule that called for the automatic suspension of any player who accumulated more than 20 fighting majors in a season. However, this rule was widely criticized and it was eventually rescinded.

The NHL also attempted to deter certain types of fights by instituting a series of fines and suspensions. For example, in 2000, then-NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a mandate that stated any player who removed his own helmet before fighting would be automatically suspended for one game. This rule was implemented in an effort to prevent head injuries.

In the 2010s, fighting continued to decline as the NHL continued to introduce new rules and regulations aimed at reducing fighting. In 2013, the NHL implemented a new rule that called for players who engaged in three fights during a single game to be automatically ejected from that game. And in 2017, the NHL enacted a new rule that ensured any player who removed his own helmet before initiating a fight would be immediately ejected from that game and receive a one-game suspension.

The Reasons for Fights in the NHL

Fights are allowed in the NHL for a variety of reasons. One reason is that itAllows the players to police themselves. If a player knows that he can fight on the ice, he is less likely to take cheap shots at other players. This helps to keep the game clean and prevents injuries. Another reason is that it gets the fans involved.

The Role of Enforcers

Enforcers have been a part of hockey since the early days of the sport. In the early 1900s, players who were willing to fight were valued for their ability to protect their teammates and discourage opponents from taking liberties with star players. As the game has evolved, the role of enforcers has changed, but their presence is still felt on the ice.

In today’s game, enforcers are generally seen as players who are willing to stand up for their teammates and protect them from dirty or dangerous play. They also serve as a deterrent to opposing players who might be inclined to take liberties with star players or other members of their team. Enforcers are typically not among the league’s leading scorers, but their presence on the ice is often seen as valuable by teammates and coaches.

Not all fights in the NHL are between enforcers. Sometimes, fights break out between players who are simply involved in a heated on-ice altercation. These types of fights are less common than those between enforcers, but they can still be seen from time to time.

The Marketing of Violence

Many people argue that the NHL encourages violence in order to sell tickets and market the game. They claim that fighting is used as a marketing tool to appeal to certain fans and to make the game more exciting. It has been argued that the NHL condones violence and uses it to sell tickets and increase viewership.

The “Code”

In the NHL, there is an unwritten code that each player follows. This code is based on respect. It states that you do not hit another player from behind, you do not take advantage of a player who is down on the ice, and you do not fight with a player who does not want to fight. If a player breaks any of these rules, it is up to the other players to police the game and enforce the code. This is usually done with a fight.

The Consequences of Fights in the NHL

fights have been a part of the NHL since its inception. They are seen as a way to settle disputes on the ice, and as a way to get players fired up and ready to play. However, there are also a number of negative consequences that come with fights in the NHL. These consequences can include injuries, higher insurance premiums, and suspensions.

The Injuries

Some of the injuries that have occurred as a result of fights include concussions, fractures, dental damage, and even death. In 2017, NHL player Clayton Stoner retired at the age of 33 due to the numerous concussions he had suffered throughout his career, many of which were a result of fighting. In addition to the brain damage that can be caused by fighting, concussions can also lead to other problems such as depression and dementia.

Fights can also result in more serious injuries such as fractures. In 2013, George Parros suffered a concussion and a fractured orbital bone after falling during a fight. Parros had to miss the remainder of the season as a result of his injuries. Facial fractures are not uncommon in fights, and can result in permanent disfigurement.

One of the most dangerous aspects of fighting is that it often leads to head and neck injuries. In 2007, Wade Belak was found dead in his hotel room at the age of 35. The cause of death was determined to be suicide, but it is believed that Belak may have been suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated head trauma. CTE can cause symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, and memory loss.

While deaths from fighting are rare, they do happen on occasion. In 2021, Don Sanderson died after suffering a head injury during a fight. Sanderson was only 21 years old at the time of his death.

The Deaths

Of the six deaths that have been linked to fighting in NHL games, three have been attributed to cardiovascular causes, one to a concussion suffered during a fight, one to a neck injury and another to what was ruled undetermined natural causes.

The Debate Over Fights in the NHL

The Pros

The primary argument in favor of allowing fighting in the NHL is that it is a part of the game that has been around for a long time. Many fans see fighting as an essential part of hockey, and argue that it would be difficult to imagine the game without it. Additionally, some argue that fighting can serve as a way to diffuse tension on the ice and prevent more serious injuries from occurring.

The Cons

1. Many people believe that fights in the NHL are nothing more than entertainment for the fans, and that they have no place in a professional sport.

2. Fights can cause serious injuries to the players involved. In some cases, fights have even resulted in death.

3. Fights can also lead to players receiving penalties, which can affect the outcome of a game.

4. Some people believe that fighting is a form of bullying, and that it should not be tolerated in any form in a professional sport.


In closing, while some people may argue that fighting should not be allowed in the NHL, there are numerous reasons why it is still a tolerated part of the game. From its role in protecting players to its potential to add excitement to the sport, fighting will likely continue to be a part of hockey for years to come.

Keyword: Why Are Fights Allowed In the NHL?

Related Posts

What NFL Team Are You?

What NFL Team Are You?

Take our quiz to find out which NFL team you should root for! ContentsIntroductionThe History of Fights in the NHLThe Early YearsThe 1970sThe 1980sThe 1990sThe 2000sThe Reasons…

When Is the Start of the NFL Season?

When Is the Start of the NFL Season?

Wondering when the NFL season starts? We’ve got you covered with all the important dates for the upcoming season. ContentsIntroductionThe History of Fights in the NHLThe Early…

Who Won The NBA Finals in 2009?

Who Won The NBA Finals in 2009?

The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2009 NBA Finals, defeating the Orlando Magic in five games. Kobe Bryant was named the Finals MVP. ContentsIntroductionThe History of Fights…

How Much Is NFL Game Pass A Month?

How Much Is NFL Game Pass A Month?

How Much Is NFL Game Pass A Month? NFL Game Pass is a great way to watch your favorite team, but it can be a little pricey….

Is Sting From WWE Dead?

Is Sting From WWE Dead?

No, Sting is not dead. The wrestler is alive and well, though he did have a health scare in 2015. ContentsIntroductionThe History of Fights in the NHLThe…

How Many Hits Does the NBA Have?

How Many Hits Does the NBA Have?

The NBA is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the world, and it receives a lot of hits on its website each day. However,…