Saturday, 12 May 2012

Fighters Hurt Their Teams

In an earlier post, Additional Statistics on the Impact of Fighting, I presented some stats that show teams that fight more often are less successful in the standings and in the playoffs.  That same report also showed that teams with more fighting majors also incurred a higher number of non-fighting penalty minutes.  I thought that I would take a quick snapshot of the top penalty leaders and see if there was a correlation to their propensity to drop the gloves.

 
After the first round of the playoffs a lot of the foolishness has disappeared and teams have returned to a more disciplined style of play in the second round.    That hasn’t stopped certain players from being undisciplined and putting their teams on the penalty kill.  Is it just a coincidence that 5 of the top 6 in penalty leaders are also the same players who frequently drop their gloves in the regular season?



These stats are for all games in the 1st and 2nd rounds, with the exception of the Game 7 between Rangers and Capitals.  Other than racking up a lot of penalties, Kimmo Timonen doesn’t fit in with the rest of this group.  The remainder have had their fair share of fights this year but it appears they forgot that the playoffs are about staying out of the penalty box.  Rinaldo and Prust are interesting examples because they have earned quite a few Minor penalties that are not related to fighting.  This supports my earlier analysis linking more fighting majors to more non-fighting PIMs.  The fighters are more likely to be “the rats” that are supposed to be taking over the game, and not the enforcers that keep them in line.  They don’t play a lot of minutes but you can count on them to put their teams at a disadvantage at an annoyingly high rate.

There are exceptions of course, like a couple of Matts who keep their gloves on and stay out of trouble.  Hendricks and Cooke, two players who have been known to attract attention from the Refs, have avoided the penalties in the playoffs.  For Cooke that was an accomplishment given the violence that erupted in the Penguins Vs Flyers series, but it is a continuation of his reform that started back in the fall of 2011.   Both of these professionals show that you can be disciplined and that fighting and violence is not required to release frustration during the highest periods of stress.  When winning matters, fighting is the least effective strategy that a team can employ.

If you have had a chance to watch any of the IIHF Hockey Championships the play has been pretty exciting.  There’s no fighting allowed in an IIHF sanctioned event and pro-fighting fans will tell you that the game is a lot rougher with more stick work and resulting penalties.  But check out the stats section of the IIHF and you’ll see that this tournament is cleaner than the NHL playoffs thus far.  In the IIHF championships about half the teams are averaging 7 to 9 PIMs per game while the other 50% ranged from 11 to 16.  Over on this continent the 50% who incurred the least PIMs averaged 7 to 11 PIMs per game, about the same as the IIHF.   However the other half ranged from 14 to 24 penalties per game.   Fighting sure keeps the game cleaner in the NHL doesn’t it?

Eventually the myths about fighting (momentum, necessary emotional release, policing the game) will all be discounted and abandoned.  All it will take is for the players, coaches, general managers and league executives to study the facts and listen to common sense about the impact of fighting on the game.  OK….maybe it might take a bit longer than expected…..


12 comments:

  1. And in today's Globe and Mail, there is an article (May 24, Page 1, below the fold), by Roy MacGregor about a recent survey by researcher Environics. The online survey of over 1000 Canadians showed an increase in the interest in hockey. Nine out of 10 surveyed said they would accept a change in the game if it means fewer concussions and head injuries. And another key finding: 72% of Canadians are in favour of a ban on fighting.

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  2. How many players picked up a concussion from fighting this year? You want players to stop getting hurt make pads smaller and softer protect the players more that way. Remove the instigator and injuries go down.

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    1. Interesting comment, given the fact that concussions were not part of the article. But to answer the question, according to NHL stats there were 3 players who suffered concussions from fighting this year. About 4% of all concussions are due to dropping the gloves based on numbers released at the winter meetings. But if you combine fights and hits, fights make up less than 1% of all contact. Therefore you are 4 times more likely to suffer head trauma in a fight versus a hockey hit. So an illegal act, remember it is against the rules, has a far greater risk of concussion but for some reason is tolerated by a league that is focused on player safety.

      And removing the instigator rule won't make the game safer, it just allows players to take more revenge and brings back the goon era. The late 70's and 80's was full of cheap shots and violence at a time when fights were at their peak and there was no instigator rule. The enforcers didn't stop anything and hockey was regularly interrupted by brawls. Read my post on that "Magical Time Before the Instigator Rule" - http://itsnotpartofthegame.blogspot.ca/2012/05/magical-time-before-instigator-rule.html

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  3. Some of the best & most exciting hockey was also played in the 70s. You must also take into account that in the 70s, the "typical" fighter was also a very decent hockey player. Terry O'Reilly, Schultz, Gilles etc..

    Environics surveys are great and all, but who is to say who the 1000 people were or are? You're just as likely to get a 27% of people who dislike fighting the next time out.

    Instigator rule should go, bring back the softer equipment, cut down the number of teams & games. It certainly would make for better hockey, and you would still have room for guys like Lucic, Prust, Simmonds etc.. that can fight & play. It is an aggressive game, and fighting is one element of that.

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    1. for every lucic or prust theres a john scott or rinaldo who can barely play the game

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  4. Exucse Me Paul is it? I have a few questions for you. One. Have you seen the recent NHL player polls of the last three years where 99 percent of players want to keep fighting in the game? And my second is have you ever played serious competitive hockey?
    I'm talking about Junior A hockey or above because Paul i have. And i have also played in two different Junior A leagues one that allowed fighting and one that did not. Can you guess which was the safer one to play in?
    I'll answer it was the one that allowed fighting. There are goons out there that ruin hockey, and it's not the goons that fight. It's the ones that are huge can skate a little and are out there to hurt people. Theyre out there to hurt with leg checks, hits from behind, spears, etc. A team in this league was full of these players. They injured at least two kids a night, never once getting a suspension. Game ejections yet but the damage had been done. Finally team brought in a fighter and beat a kid in a fair fight the kid he beat left the goon team because he was actually scared to get hit in a fight again. This kid that left injured 2 kids on my team that year. The kid who got in a fight five game suspension. Tell me how is that fair and tell me how that fighter hurt that team?

    Let me five you a second example of the fight allowed league. A kid hit me from behind gave me a concussion i missed a month. My first game back i asked his captain to ask his player if he wanted to go? The kid said yes we went, i won it was over. I can honestly tell you that if he didnt say yes. I would have went after him and tried to hurt him for the month he cost me. Most hockey players feel that same way.

    The nature of the game breeds fighting and playing at the next level one would know that. Your comments of the game make me feel you're as far off the ice as the jumbotron.

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    1. first of all ive played hockey at a very high level. that said the reason hockey players are 99% for fighting is the same reason players in the 60s were 99%against helmets wich is an illogical macho/stupidity to say that hockey players are the athletes least likely to be disciplined enough to control their behavior is ridiculous .playing ncaa div 1 hockey was the highest level i played and fighting is almost non-existant at that level as well as international hockey...the best hockey game ive watched in the past few years was the olympic gold medal game between usa and canada,and even though both teams had a real and palpable hate on for each other no real fighting occurred and was as exciting a game as you could hope for...your antiquated view of hockey is out dated and the macho rhetoric is absurd

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  5. I haven't played Junior A hockey and yes I have seen the NHL anonymous polls that show support to keep fighting in the game.

    I have question for you. Which Junior A league did you play in that does not allow fighting? All Junior A leagues allow fighting, although a ban is being discussed this year by Hockey Canada and CHL.

    As for the rest of your example, I think you've done a great job of explaining why fighting doesn't belong in the game. A review of officiating would solve most of the issues detailed above. If you love hockey, you wouldn't want an emotional, biased and undisciplined player enforcing the game.

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    1. absolutely right on Paul

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  6. I played in the states in an independent junior league i left that league to play in the mjhl. And a review of the officiating wouldnt have done anything. As i said the officials got the calls right. Players were kicked out, given game misconducts and nothing deturred their actions. Even the league stepped in and suspended kids and there were more players just like that waiting.

    Paul, I can understand your not wanting fighting in the game i dont go out of my way to call people names if they dont believe and i listen to what they have to say. But i find it very difficult for me to take what you say serious when you haven't played the game at a level where you see fighting makes the game more honest.

    Also you're calling elite players like Kovalchuk, and Richards undisiplinced? they have a pretty decent amount of fights, and they fight for a reason. I hate the goon staged fights ill always hate that i find it boring, but there is honestly a reason for a fight to happen every now and then.

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    1. Brandon, you are good man!
      Please, speak more. :)

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    2. explain how ncaa div 1 has almost eliminated fighting,explain why there is a 90% decrease in fighting during the playoffs and even more of a decrease during the actuual cup series,Brandon you have aright to your opinion but its just wrong on so many levels...and believe me fighting will be banned eventually in the nhl,and it wont be the demise of a great game it will make it better!

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