Opinion: It’s not hockey without fighting

Ryan Kennedy
Braden Holtby and Ray Emery square off (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It always fascinates me when someone who claims to like hockey says they don’t like fighting. Hockey has always had fisticuffs, so clearly when they fell in love with the sport, they knew what they were getting into. They’re the sort of folks who go to a Chinese restaurant and ask why cheeseburgers aren’t on the menu, I imagine.

I don’t try to intellectualize fighting because for me it’s a matter of passion – my own and that of the players. Hockey is an intense, physical game played at high speeds. It inspires loyal fans who know the sacrifices players have made to get to the elite ranks and appreciate the danger those same athletes face on a nightly basis just by skating around with each other in ill temper. Are concussions bad? Are hits to the head bad? Sure, but players have known the risks forever and I don’t believe otherwise, even if specific maladies (such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy) have only been named recently. Read more

Women’s hockey fight: Monique Lamoureux vs. Jamie Lee Rattray

Ryan Kennedy
Monique Lamoureux (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The rivalry between Team USA and Team Canada is toxic in women’s hockey despite the fact some of these players are on the same squads in the Canadian Women’s League. So it seems rather appropriate that when a fight broke out in Sunday’s game between Boston and Brampton, the two combatants came from opposite ends of the 49th parallel.

Watch as Boston’s Monique Lamoureux (white jersey) and Brampton’s Jamie Lee Rattray throw down:

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Shawn Horcoff flattened an unsuspecting Patrick Sharp last night

Jared Clinton
Patrick Sharp (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s a good reason why players are taught to check over their shoulders before attempting to make a quick move one way or the other. Unfortunately for him, Patrick Sharp can be used as an example of what not to do.

On Sunday night, as the Blackhawks took on the Stars, Sharp skated into the Dallas zone after a loose puck. With Dallas defenseman Jamie Oleksiak putting pressure on him from the right, he turned back quickly, only to be met by the hard-charging shoulder of Shawn Horcoff. The hit was a train wreck. Read more

Fighting in the NHL: Should it stay or go?

Ryan Kennedy
(Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Depending on which team you ask, the opening-whistle line brawl between Calgary and Vancouver last season was either a stupid distraction or just what the doctor ordered. When Flames coach Bob Hartley started noted heavyweights such as Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth, Canucks bench boss John Tortorella countered with enforcers Tom Sestito and Kellan Lain, who happened to be making his NHL debut. Westgarth lined up at center and was eventually greeted by rugged defenseman Kevin Bieksa – who, for posterity’s sake, won the draw – and the fists went a-flying.

The final score was 3-2 Vancouver, but that may have been the least important number that night in a game that featured a combined 204 penalty minutes. Due to ejections, Dan Hamhuis played 36 minutes for Vancouver, while Dennis Wideman led Calgary with 38. And then there was Tortorella, who ended up charging the Calgary dressing room between periods. It was not a normal night at the office. Read more

Yet more evidence that you should never fight Zdeno Chara

Ryan Kennedy
Zdeno Chara (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

If you have watched hockey consistently for the past 15 years or so, it should be perfectly clear to you that fighting massive Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is the worst idea in the world. Few brawlers can claim a draw with the B’s captain, let alone a win – and Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette found that out the hard way last night.

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Reader, puzzle-solver & charity champion, this Islanders banger is more than bloody knuckles

Adam Proteau
Matt Martin (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

To watch Matt Martin play hockey is to watch a human bumper car.

Now in his fifth season with the New York Islanders, Martin, 25, has earned a reputation as an intense, blue-collar left winger who throws as many punches (447 penalty minutes in 280 games prior to this season) as he does bodychecks (he’s led the NHL in hits three times). But when he’s not playing, he is anything but high-strung. You’re more likely to find him reading or working on a crossword puzzle than trying to knock someone into next week. Read more

From deaths to monsters, a history of fighting in hockey

Adam Proteau
(B Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s fair to say that, for as long as the sport has existed, there’s been a connection between hockey and fighting. Indeed, the first indoor hockey game ever played – March 13, 1875, in Montreal – was followed by fisticuffs between players and spectators and others who wanted to use the arena for skating. And although there’s been no shortage of critics who decried it right from the start, fighting has, for better or worse, helped shape the destiny of the game from its earliest days.

The first evidence hockey historians have of a fight in a game is from one of the first contests that took place in 1890 in Ontario. On Feb. 8, as part of a barnstorming tour of the province, the Rideau Hall Rebels (who played out of Ottawa) were taking on the Granite Hockey Club in Toronto when a major melee broke out. That fight was a prominent factor, if not the driving one, in the organization of hockey in Ontario. Read more

THN’s best NHL fighters by weight class

Ryan Kennedy
John Scott (middle) is one of the most fearsome fighters in the league. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

In most sports that involve fighting, the fighters are broken down into weight classes. It helps provide some semblance of balance and a measure of safety, if you can call it that.

Though the NHL has no official breakdown of fighters into weight classes, we took our time to make it happen. And not only are the fighters separated by weight class, they’re also ranked by who the toughest brawlers are in each category. Read more