Fighting and the Bottom Line

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I enjoy a good hockey fight. Heck, I enjoy a bad hockey fight. So much so that www.hockeyfights.com is one of my favorite websites. I visit daily to view every scrap that occurred in the previous night’s games. But I won’t get on a soapbox and preach about fighting’s importance and how it should never be eliminated from the game. I just like watching the pugilistic arts on ice. It’s good entertainment.

Anyway, the whole fighting issue got me thinking. Is there any correlation between brawling and winning? As of March 31, the teams with the most fighting majors were: Anaheim (leading the way with 75!), Calgary, Philadelphia (surprise, surprise), St. Louis and Tampa Bay. As of Thursday, only one of those teams is playoff-bound – the Flyers, and they’re barely hanging on. The Ducks, Flames and Blues aren’t bad teams, but none are among the top 8 squads in the Western Conference. But to be fair, Calgary is only 2 points out.

On the flip side, the teams with the fewest fighting majors were: Detroit (only 18!), Washington, Nashville, Buffalo and the New York Islanders. The Wings, Caps, Preds and Sabres will all be playing in the postseason. The Islanders stink. For the record, the Pens are 18th in the league with 42 fighting majors.

What does it all mean? Well, if this season is any indication, the team that fights the most doesn’t necessarily win the most. And the teams that barely fight are doing just fine in the standings. Fighting is a part of the game (whether you like it or not), and it isn’t going away anytime soon (fighting majors have gone up each of the past three seasons). It’s how teams choose to utilize it that matters.  

Thanks to www.hockeyfights.com for the stats. For your viewing pleasure, here’s a couple of heavyweights throwing bombs – Nashville’s Wade Belak vs. Florida’s Steve MacIntyre.