Despite a new rule designed to decrease the number of fights in the NHL, fighting is actually way up early in the season.
Through 114 regular season games, teams are averaging 0.8 fighting major penalties per game, the highest rate in the last 13 seasons and up 60.9% from last year (0.48 fighting majors/game). Penalty minutes are also up this season. However, the 14.4 penalty minutes per game is similar to what was seen in the NHL as recently as the 2008-09 season (cont. below the chart)…
With concussions becoming a major issue in contact sports, the NHL instituted a new rule that increased the number of penalty minutes from five to seven for players that removed their helmets prior to a fight. On the surface, the new rule appeared to be a first step in an effort to significantly reduce the number of fights in the NHL.
Hall of Famer, and current Lightning general manager, Steve Yzerman recently said the current penalties are not enough and called for fighting players to be given game misconduct penalties (i.e. ejected; via mlive.com). Yzerman noted that the NHL was being hypocritical by cracking down on contact to the head and yet continuing to allow fighting.
Yzerman’s comments raised eyebrows around hockey, but it is clear that the current rules are not working.
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