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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Is A Quota The Answer For Reining In Hockey Fights?

Illustration for article titled Is A Quota The Answer For Reining In Hockey Fights?

Fighting! Few serious fans of hockey think it doesn't have a place in the sport. But then, no serious fans think this bullshit belongs either. How, then, to separate the meaningful fighting for legitimate purposes—enforcement, deterrence, stimulation—from fighting for fighting's sake? The OHL has an idea: force the goons to pick and choose their spots.


The OHL is going to try something new this season, kicking in after fight No. 10. For every fight from 11-15, players will face a two-game suspension. For every fight from 16-20, a two-game suspension plus a $1000 fine for his team. What happens if you go over 20 fights? No one knows. Probably the strappado.


This is exactly what the NBA does with technical fouls (a suspension for each tech over 15), and it's sort of brilliant on the face of it. It's going to do nothing to prevent players from fighting when they need to fight, and those instances do exist. But now, hopefully, they'll think twice before dropping the gloves. Do I really need to waste one of my 10 freebies here?

The rule has its flaws, though. As Puck Daddy points out, the fighting major count can be mitigated by instigator penalties, which are inconsistently applied. And the rule is ostensibly designed to crack down on the designated fighters, but the list of NHL fight leaders isn't by any means restricted to one-dimensional players.

And the NHL is watching.

"They talk to us when they make rule changes like this," [Colin] Campbell told Wednesday. "We've discussed the aspect of fighting over the years. We had a couple of initial discussions about this last spring. They were thinking about implementing some sort of quota. I mentioned to him we had debated that internally in hockey operations at the NHL level."


So who would complain about something similar hitting the NHL (pro-rated for the NHL's 82-game schedule as opposed to the OHL's 68)? The NHLPA, for one—any new rule that has the potential to dock players' game checks is going to meet resistance in the best of labor situations, and this is not the best of labor situations. But if this exact framework leaves something to be desired, the idea is sound. You can't get rid of fighting altogether, but you can put in roadblocks to limit it.

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