Fighting, the act that makes the game we love more unique than any other sport on the planet. The ability to drop the gloves and put your fist into their face, to stand up for teammates and to make a point. Fights happen for all sorts of reasons, whether it’s in defense of a fellow player or to change the momentum of the game, but whatever way you look at it, you cannot deny that fighting has a role in hockey.
Just this week, the AHL has come out with new rules on fighting to fill their rulebook and hopefully keep fighting in control. These new rules are based around giving players a limit on the amount of fights they can have in a season, as well as neutralizing the ability to fight off a face-off.
More anti-fighting rules in AHL. Likely precursor to their addition in NHL. https://t.co/sEF5Ea8jJl
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) July 7, 2016
The new rules give the players the freedom to fight up to 10 times before any action is to be taken, after the 10th fight any subsequent fights up to the 13th fight are punished by a 1 game suspension, From the 14th fight and beyond, there is a 2 game suspension for every fight, however if the player is ruled to not have instigated the fight, it will not count towards their fighting total.
Another rule added to the book adds a game misconduct penalty to the original fighting major in the event that a fight is staged right off a face-off. This rule is still hazy on the amount of time that must pass before a fight can be instigated, but it is assumed to be until there has been a chance to move the puck up or down the ice.
So, what do these rules mean for the future of fighting in the NHL? As we learned with 3 on 3 overtime, once the AHL adopts a new rule, it’s only a matter of time before the NHL follows in suit. With virtually all NHL players spending time in the AHL, these rules will certainly have an impact on the future of the NHL.
With these new rules coming into play and enforcers becoming an endangered species, it’s only a matter of time before fighting is a rare occurrence. According to The Code: Documentary on Fighting in Hockey, in a poll done back in 2013, 97% of all NHL players voted against the banning of fighting, citing it as a key piece to the success of a team.
Will these rules help in the long run? In my opinion, it will help as long as it is within reason. When you take fighting out of hockey, you take away the ability to make a player own up for something they have done. If you could give a dirty hit without fear of getting beaten up, then what is stopping you from doing it? Great memories and rivalries have been formed by fighting, just look at the Red Wings and Avalanche rivalry from the 90’s. That being said, it is smart to monitor and give limits on fighting, with these new rules it paves the way to a safer future for fighting in hockey.