David M Singer
Nov 20, 2000
The argument has been going for years. Does fighting belong in hockey? As NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been trying to phase it out of hockey over the course of his tenure many wonder if that is the right thing to do. There have been fewer fights. There have also been more publicized stick infractions. While it is hard to correlate the two, it is not hard to see other statistics in the league. Out of the top ten teams in the fighting majors category, seven have winning records. Four of those seven happen to be the best four teams in the league.
It is not hard to see that this is more than a coincidence. All seven teams have winning records when there is a fight in the game. The borderline .500 team, the New York Rangers are 10-9. 6-3 when there's a fight. The difference is there. It's called inspired play and where it may not help those squeamish or suffering from bully-nightmares it gets a rise out of the crowd and more importantly the players. Inspiring your players equal wins. Where some teams have similar records with and without a fight during the game other teams reflect a much different scenario.
The Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils are now an even 8-8-3. In games with fights they are 5-1-1. The latter is more like the record of a championship team. A team with heart and passion like the Devils were in last year's playoffs.
What is truly remarkable about these statistics is the fact that there are two expansion teams this year and one from last. Only one of those teams is in the top ten team fighting majors list. Only one. The thinking of "we have a bad team, so let's put out some entertainment" is gone. The good teams will brawl now. Fighting is not significantly up from the last few years...yet. Like all professional sports the NHL will remain a copycat league, and when the other teams start trying to play the same was as the Blues and Avalanche they will find players like Reed Low who are willing to go out and excite the crowd (appropriately, 7 of his 11 fights are at home) and willing to go any night (7 games in a row at one point). Life cycles, and so shall the NHL. The Broad Street Bullies may never make a comeback, but their style may. We all remember their fearsome reputations...and the fact that they won two Cups in a row and saw the finals three years straight.
Written on November 20, 2000. Team Fighting Major Leaders as of this date:
|2||St. Louis Blues||13-3-3-0||9-2-2-0||20|
|5||Toronto Maple Leafs||10-6-3-1||5-3-2-0||15|
|10||New York Rangers||10-9-0-0||6-3-0-0||12|
* Record in games with fights
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