Why Is Fighting Allowed In The NHL? It’s Complicated
People who aren't die hard hockey fans may ask the question, "why do the officials allow the players to fight?" Especially after you see a fight like what happened on Monday night between Minnesota Wild's Marcus Foligno and San Jose Sharks' Nikolai Kynzhov. Foligno, who has been in 45 fights in the NHL, landed 3 blows to rookie Kynzhov's face. Foligno then took mercy on his opponent and told the lineman to break it up.
It kind of makes you wonder why don't officials break up these fights to begin with? Fighting is an unwritten rule in North American professional hockey. It basically boils down to there's always been fights in hockey and it's part of the code. It started early on in the sport in Canada when the rules weren't well established. In a way it was kind of a way to self regulate the game.
As time went on fighting became more of a draw to get fans to the games. It was an attraction and part of the game. Players could defend their star players. Over the years enforcers and intimidators were created, which are players that have a role in their physicality against other teams.
So just because officials allow fighting, doesn't mean it's not punishable. In most North American professional sports including the NHL and minor leagues, it's a 5 minute penalty. Officials are given a lot of freedom to determine what is a fight and how to penalize.
In European leagues and Olympic Games fighting can lead to more serious consequences, so you don't see it as much. Multiple game suspensions can be handed out, and that's not worth most players throwing off their gloves.
There's an ongoing debate on whether fighting should be allowed to continue in hockey, but players and most fans agree that it's part of the game. It won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
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