The future looks unpromising for the NHL’s dirtiest teams. Here is why.
In-game combat has existed, and it is as old as hockey. Recently, fighting during gameplay has come into question, but it is part and parcel of this professional game in North America.
Fisticuffs is the name given to in-game combat, with the first occurrence happening in 1922. This was the first official fight that the NHL regulated five years after the introduction of pro hockey. Ever since, players engage in in-game combat, with thousands of rows happening on the ice.
In the many decades that this game has been played, some teams have earned a reputation for playing the dirtiest and engaging in the most fights.
In contemporary times, different teams take the mantle of playing dirty. Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks are among the dirtiest teams in the league, according to fans.
Be that as it may, are those reputations merited? The answer is yes.
Bruins have been in numerous fights since the 2010/11 season. The team has a total of 371 fighting majors within this period.
In the same period, Boston leads the league in initiator penalties. In the last NHL seasons, Boston has been charged for starting twenty-one fights.
The Ducks, on the other hand, have been indicted with 363 fighting majors since the 2010/11 season. This is the 2nd highest tally in the National Hockey League.
Although Anaheim is named among the dirtiest team, they are not attackers as per the official records. In the last ten seasons, this team has been charged with only nine instigator penalizations.
Ottawa Senators is another team with a high number of fights with a sum of 323 fighting majors and 18 instigator penalties. Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia are the other teams in the NHL with many fights. The former has 316 fights while the latter has 309 in-game combats since the 2010/11 season. Philly has 15 instigator penalties, while Columbus Blue Jackets has none.
There are other aggressive teams in the league, including the New York Islander and Florida Panthers. These two teams have been charged with 19 and 15 instigator penalties, respectively.
Dirty gameplay does not end with the fight. Philadelphia has spent 8,951 minutes in the penalty box more than any team in the league since 2010.
Carolina Hurricanes are on the bottom of the list as they do not engage in fights often. This team has 132 fighting majors, the lowest number in the league from 2010/11. In the same period, Carolina has spent the least minutes in the penalty box, receiving just 6,091 in the ten seasons.
Just above the Hurricanes, we have the Detroit Red Wings with 133 fighting majors in the same period. This team has spent the 3rd least time in the penalty box.
Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks are among the clean teams in the league. These two are among the bottom five teams on the list with the least number of fights and penalty duration.
Toronto Maple Leafs have been charged with starting one fight in the ten seasons. This is the fewest number in the league, placing the team on the list of the cleanest teams in the NHL since 2010.
The statics are crucial in gauging whether the fans are correct in ranking the dirtiest teams in the league. However, this is not the biggest issue in ice hockey; does in-game combat have a place in the game in the years to come?
This is a discourse that has been going on for years. The opponents claim that it has a host of cons that must be considered. Pointless injuries, especially to the brain, time wastage and diminishes the skillful dynamics of the game.
The proponents of in-game combat want this aspect to remain in the game for various reasons. For them, it reduces other forms of dirty play significantly with players policing themselves. This practice also guarantees protection for star members of the team.
Ice hockey enthusiasts agree that fighting makes the game more captivating. A decent number attend the games to catch the action live, including the fights.
Whatever your assessment on the issue, the measurements recount an inauspicious story for the eventual fate of battling in hockey.
In the 2010/11 season, there was at least more than one fight in every two games – 0.52 per challenge, to be precise.
In 2019/20, the number had gone down to 0.18.
In general, combat in the NHL has diminished by 70% throughout the most recent ten years, with fighting majors going from 1,274 out of 2010/11 to only 388 of every 2019/20.
The 2018/19 season was the first season in quite a while where less than 200 games saw a battling major, with the 2019/20 mission following accordingly.
It is also true to say that fewer players are initiating fights on the ice.
In 2010/11, a joint-record 348 players got into a piece sooner or later during the season. A year ago, less than 250 players dropped their gloves for a battle.
Each significant measurement shows that battling in the NHL is on the reduction, and there isn't anything to propose that this trend will stop any time soon.
How this affects the fate of the game is unsure, however.
Adversaries will trust this rushes the avoidance of fighting from the game by, while defenders may contend that battling at a lower level is the best approach – players are more secure, with fans getting a thrill from the in-game combat.
The Ducks and the NHL's other aggressive teams face a dubious period wherein their gameplay strategies should change to accommodate the new regulations should fighting be prohibited.
This issue can't be disregarded any longer.
The NHL is moving toward an intersection, and the bearing choice may change hockey for eternity.