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Fights on Ice: Is It Harmful or Beneficial to NHL?

Fights on Ice: Is It Harmful or Beneficial to NHL?

The ice hockey players’ fights are one of the most impressive and spectacular events on the ice. But one of the recent studies suggests that these fights may be harmful to the players not only at the physical level but the economic level as well.

Fans choose skills over fights

Fans choose skills over fights

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Lethbridge shows that ice hockey fans do not like watching how the NHL players punch each other during the game. The fans, at least those who are from Canada, would rather see players showing their professional skills on the ice than watch how the entire match turns into boxing.

The researchers analyzed data of 13 NHL seasons, from 1997-98 through 2009-10. The main goal of the Canadian scientists was to find out if there is any link between the fights intensity and attendance. Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that battles have a negative effect on attendance.

Although the negative impact of the ice hockey players’ fights was not big and crucial, the study shows that encouraging confrontations between the players is not a profitable strategy for the NHL clubs.

On the other hand, Duane Rockerbie, the author of the study, said that the number of the fights performed during the ice hockey games is on decline. Rockerbie said that the highest level of confrontations was registered in the 1980s. At that time, the number of the incidents with a too close contact and the fights between the players was three times higher than today.

According to Mr. Rockerbie, fan preferences may be one of the reasons fights are now less popular. The other significant reason to avoid physical encounters between the hockey players is the game’s economics. Mr. Rockerbie insists that today there is no room “for players who specialize in… fighting” in professional ice hockey.

The fights will remain a part of the game

The fights will remain a part of the game

Although the University of Lethbridge’s study showed that fans do not like when there is too much blood on the ice, the results of the study are not quite representative. Since the study was carried out in Canada, where ice hockey is the most prestigious sports, it mostly reflects the preferences of the Canadian fans.

There is a quite obvious difference between a high-professional ice hockey in the NHL or at the Olympic Games, and the games of the AHL, for instance.

When it comes to the Olympics, fights are more than not in favor. Fighting is completely forbidden and leads to disqualification. Moreover, you will never hear fans who watch hockey match during the Olympics complaining the game was boring because there were no fights at all.

There are not so many supporters of the boxing in ice hockey among the NHL fans, too. But both the Olympics and the NHL represent the highest possible level of the ice hockey performance. When you are stacking an Olympic gold medal, you will not risk your team’s future and your own career in order to entertain some part of the public. If you are a professional hockey player, you will show nothing but your impressive skills and talent.

But what about the rest of the ice hockey teams? Those who play in the AHL and have a less qualified audience? First of all, the majority of the hockey novices has nothing to show their team’s fans when it comes to reaching sports goals. So, instead of building a brilliant strategy, they entertain the viewers with numerous fights and battles.

Curiously, there is even a special Twitter page that tells you about all the most violent, bloody, and severe physical confrontations between the hockey players. Moreover, the page has almost 46,000 followers. The HockeyFights page on Facebook has even more fans―over 79,000 of people.

Fights help win the game

Fights help win the game

What is even more surprising, another study published three years ago stated that fights gave some advantages to the NHL players. A study conducted by the group of the researchers from the PowerScout Hockey project concluded that in one of every four fights on the ice both teams got a chance to raise their games. About 76% of the games with fights gave some benefits to one of the two competing teams. Moreover, according to the study, the team that wins the fight is not always the same one that wins the game.

So, while there are some fans who apparently want fights to be banned from the NHL, the players, and their coaches will probably continue to use this unusual part of the game in order to win.

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