We’re two weeks into this young NHL season and I think it’s time to admit that the league has a fighting problem. The NHL is currently on pace for 241 fights this year, its lowest total in over 18 years (I couldn’t find stats from before 2000). We’re currently looking at 0.19 fights per game and only 16.84% of games with a fight. Just 10 years ago there were 0.60 fights per game and 41.38% of games with fights. (All stats courtesy of hockeyfights.com) So what’s the problem? People aren’t fighting enough!
“But Whitty, what about player safety? What about sportsmanship? And the kids! For God’s sake, think of the kids!”
Save it for the NFL, nerds. I don’t want my NHL players to be sportsmanlike (the Lady Bing is a punishment, not a reward, in my opinion). Worried about player safety? Tell your mans to learn how to take a punch. I know there are plenty of snowflakes out there that think fighting is bad for hockey and want to see it removed from the game completely, but I couldn’t disagree more. Fighting is hockey. Without it, they might as well be playing soccer on ice. I do think the NHL needs to revisit the rules around fighting though. So what can they do to make it better? I’m glad you asked, because I have just the idea. They need to adopt the Blades of Steel fighting rules.
What’s Blades of Steel, you ask? Only the single greatest hockey video game of all time (sorry NHL 94 fans, the truth hurts). The thing that made fighting in Blades of Steel so great was that instead of both players going to the penalty box after the fight was over, only the player that lost the fight was taken to the box. Imagine having the humiliation of losing the fight and then also knowing you let your team down by giving up a 5-minute major power play. The fights automatically become much more interesting and teams will have to actually incorporate it into their strategy. The NHL can even borrow the “This Time it Counts” tagline from the MLB Allstar Game since baseball’s no longer using it.
For all of you anti-fighting folks out there, this may actually lead to fewer fights because guys will think twice before picking a fight if they’re not sure they’ll win. And I’m okay with that, because I’m a quality-over-quantity guy (as evidenced by my blogging stats this year). So everybody’s happy. Except for Red Wings fans, whose team is still fighting to find their first victory of the season. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Anyways, if you’re reading this Gary Bettman, and I know you are, go out and grab yourself an NES and fire up Blades of Steel. It’ll surely give you some good ideas on how to improve the NHL. And if not, at the very least you’ll have a great time playing one of the greatest video games ever made.
[Editor’s Note: This blog post is satirical and not meant to be taken seriously. I don’t really think a decrease in fighting is bad for the NHL, so I don’t want to hear all your triggered responses about how fighting doesn’t belong in hockey. Truthfully, I just wanted a reason to work Blades of Steel into a blog post, because it truly is the GOAT hockey video game. And that’s not a satirical take, so if you disagree go ahead and @ me because I’ll fight you on that all day long!]