NHL Teams Lose More Games When Their Enforcers Fight

colton orr deryk engelland nhl fighting

Photo: AP

Fighting has long been a hot-button issue for hockey, but it remains because the majority of fans are still entertained by fisticuffs and think they’re a necessary part of the game. There’s certainly something to be said for the momentum shift a team can experience when one of its players tries to set an example by dropping the gloves with an opponent, but do the heavyweights who square off against one another in staged bouts really have an impact on the game?

We looked at the most-frequent fighters from 2010 and 2009 to find out to see if their showdowns contributed to winning.

nhl chart

Fight data from HockeyFights.com

As you can see, these teams have an overall combined record of well over .500.  But when their enforcers fought, their combined record was under .500

nhl chart

Fight data from HockeyFights.com

Again, in almost every instance the team’s record was worse in games where their enforcer dropped the gloves.

What does this mean?  Well, many times these guys are fighting when things aren’t going their team’s way to begin with.  Enforcers are often sent out by their coaches to send a message to the opponent that this game isn’t quite over yet and to show teammates the same thing.  But it doesn’t look like it helps very often. 

The truth is that fighting, while considered entertaining by many, does not help hockey teams. There are enforcers on winning and losing teams, but neither fare better when their fighters engage in combat.

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