The role of fighting and its place in hockey have been popular topics of discussion in the first third of the 2013-14 NHL season, primarily from a player safety perspective.
While the passion and intensity of the fighting debate isn’t likely to subside anytime soon, the average number of games that have included at least one fight this season is smaller than the average over the last five years.
According to Hockeyfights.com, 35.39 percent of this year’s games (149 of 421) have included at least one fight, which is a bit smaller than the average number of games that had one or more fight from 2008-09 through 2012-13 (37.95 percent).
If this rate continues, there will be 435 games that included a fight by the end of the regular season, which would be the second-lowest total in a non-lockout year since 2006-07.
Even if there are less games with fights compared to recent seasons, there are still prominent people in the sport who believe fighting remains an important part of the game. Speaking with ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald, Boston Bruins president Cam Neely recently shared his thoughts on the role of fighting.
“I still believe there are things that happen on the ice that you want the other player to be held accountable,” Neely said. “Two minutes in the box, and I’ve heard some people say, ‘Well, a good, clean, hard body check will do the number.’ Well, it won’t do the number. I still believe there’s a place in our game for [fighting].”
Through all games played through Dec. 4, Boston ranks ninth among all 30 teams with 16 fighting majors, and no Bruins players are ranked in the top 10 of fighting majors (Shawn Thornton leads the team with four). The Toronto Maple Leafs lead the league with 23 fighting majors, while New York’s Derek Dorsett and Vancouver’s Tom Sestito are tied for the lead among players with nine.
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