There were 344 fights in the NHL this season, according to HockeyFights.com, the fewest in a non-lockout-shortened season since the stats have been tracked.
The 0.28 fights per game translates to one fight every 3.6 games. To put that in perspective, just seven years ago, there was a fight once every 1.7 games.
This comes in the wake of the recent New York Times report that NHL officials have admitted in emails amongst themselves that fighting can lead to concussions and possibly chronic brain disease. the drop in the number of fights also correlates with recent rules changes designed to minimise fighting, and encouragement from the league for officials to stop fights before they start if possible. However, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says — at least publicly — that there may be a more tactical reason for fewer fights.
“It may be a lot of factors,” Bettman
told the Chicago Tribune. “Perhaps the predominant one may be, and this is my speculation, the game is so competitive now that teams are focusing more on skill and having four lines that can help you win a game. “