Fighting is down in the NHL, and the numbers are there to prove it

If you think the role of fighting in hockey is no longer what it once was, you would be right.

You would also be stating the obvious (even in a season that has already featured a vicious haymaker), but now there are even more numbers to support the notion that brawls are out of style in the NHL.

Online Casino collected data from HockeyFights.com to analyze NHL fights that have occurred since the turn of the century, and all signs are that on-ice scuffles are in serious decline. Study results showed that less than 30 percent of all NHL games since 2012 have featured a fight, while no season has had more than 40 percent of its games include a fight since 2009-2010.

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The average number of fights per NHL season has declined in recent years. Online Casino

Our data reveal a few seasons in which brawls occurred with relentless regularity. In four seasons studied (2001-02, 2003-04, 2008-09, and 2009-10), fights occurred in more than 40 percent of games. Considering the NHL's regular season schedule includes 1,271 separate contests, that's more than 500 fights before even reaching the playoffs.

It's hard to miss the recent decline in fighting spirit, however. No season since 2012-13 has had fights in 30 percent or more of its matchups. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has attributed this shift to teams' focus on hiring skilled players rather than brawlers who are best at bringing the pain. Perhaps this organic decline explains Bettman's lack of interest in further regulating fighting, suggesting it might even serve as an outlet that prevents other injuries. 

Other notable figures from the study on fights in hockey:

  • The 2015-16 NHL season had the league's lowest percentage of games with fights (23.4) since 2000
  • Of NHL teams with the most fights, the Philadelphia Flyers average the most per season (66.5)
  • The team with the lowest average number of fights per season is the Detroit Red Wings (27.1)
  • Among teams who have fought each other the most, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens lead the way with 308 battles
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