Why Is Fighting Allowed In Hockey

You must have seen the Hockey players fighting against their opponents during matches.

And this has made this sport unique from all other team sports. Because, in Hockey, players are allowed to fight against opponent players!

No wonder this is an incredible thing in any kind of sports. But do you know why the players in a Hockey match are allowed to fight against their opponents?

This is what I am going to share with you in this write-up. So let’s stop going around in circles and come straight to the point – Why is fighting allowed in Hockey?

Why Are Fights Allowed In NHL

Well, fighting during an ongoing game is not a thing that civilians do, right? Then why does everyone encourage Hockey players to fight their opponents when they play a match?

Why Are Fights Allowed In NHL
Why Are Fights Allowed In NHL

If you are seeking a simple answer to this question, you probably would be disappointed. Because there is no simple answer to that!

There are some complex rules behind these fights in a Hockey match. One of them is tradition.

The other points are the need to intimidate the opponent players. You can add the physical nature of the game too in the list of the reasons.

Let me make it clearer for you in the next phase of this article.

Why Do They Let Hockey Players Fight

Now let me elaborate on all the reasons that are behind the rule of allowing fights between the players in a Hockey match.


In the earlier days of Hockey, the fight between the players has been an inseparable part of this game.

It was OK to get involved in fights for the players during a Hockey match. But it became an extra attraction of this game in the 1970s.

From this time, it was very common to see a full bench to clear brawls in almost every professional Hockey match.

The fights in the Hockey matches were so popular at that time that once a famous comedian Rodney Dangerfield cracked a joke:

I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out!


In the 1970s, fights during a Hockey match were one of the most common things you used to see.

It was such a serious matter, that the teams appointed goons as the players of them to win a Hockey match.

And teams like Philadelphia Flyers or Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in NHL multiple times by employing goons of size with physical fighting ability.

The matter went so worse that NHL had to imply stricter rules and had to change rules drastically to introduce harsh penalties to decrease the on-ice fights in the last years of the 1970s decade.

But since then, there was no change in the rules, and the rules allowed the players to get involved in fights.

Probably it is because the NHL authority still wants to keep the fighting as a part of the sport.

So from the earliest days, the fight between players is one of the leading attractions that brings the audience to the stadiums.

Policing The Hockey Game

People who defend the fighting in Hockey matches always talk about The Code. This code is nothing but an unsaid rule that each and every player follows during a match.

If a player fails to stop an opponent with his skills, he has to stop him by starting a fight against him.

Hockey matches now have on-ice policemen who ensure to bring justice for their teams when an opponent player crosses the line.

To Prevent Collateral Damage

Hockey is one of those rare team sports in which all the players carry a weapon. Wondered? Have you ever got hit by a Hockey stick?

To Prevent Collateral Damage
To Prevent Collateral Damage

If the answer is yes, then only you will know what I am trying to say.

The fight defenders argue in favor of fights saying that if the fight gets illegal in the matches, then players will start Stick Works.

The stick work is beating a player without getting caught. This would be more dangerous for the health of the players.

They say that getting punched right on the face hurts less than getting hit right on the shin bone of your legs by a stick.

Do you think the fight is a barbaric thing? Then a defendant would say that Hockey is a faster physical sport than any other sport.

And it is very obvious to get frustrated in very little things like silly mistakes or failures during the match.

And in these conditions, the fight helps in killing the frustration and anger of the players.

And if the fighting gets banned in Hockey matches, then players will go for another “option” to hurt their opponents, and this time they will start using the sticks, which will be a far more dangerous thing!

Why Can Hockey Players Fight

It is weird that hockey players can fight against their opponent players. But this is one of the main attractions too for which the audience visit the stadium.

Many people want to know why hockey players are allowed to start a fight against their opponents.

From the very starting days of hockey, fighting has been considered a part of this sport. It is more a tradition of this game.

Many people who support fighting between the hockey players keep pointing out this tradition.

Although after the brutal fights during the hockey matches of the decade of 1970s, some drastic changes have been introduced to the hockey rules, it is still a part of this game.

There are people in the hockey matches who act as the defendants in the fight.

According to them, if the fighting during matches gets banned, then there will be more collateral damages as the players then will start using the stick as a weapon to hit opponent players.

Now a player can directly start a fight against an opponent player.

But if this gets banned, then they will go for undercover hits against their opponent and will start using the hockey stick in that which will bring more damage.

Arguments In Favor Of Fighting In Hockey

Arguments In Favor Of Fighting In Hockey
Arguments In Favor Of Fighting In Hockey

People who argue in favor of keeping the fight a legal thing during a hockey match always point out the traditional part.

Fighting during hockey matches has been considered a legal thing from the starting days of the game and has become an inseparable part of the game. These people do not want to break the tradition.

Some people say that if the fighting gets banned during a hockey match, then the players will go for undercover hits and will start using the hockey stick to hit opponent players which will bring more drastic damage.

Arguments Against Fighting In Hockey

People who argue against the fighting tradition of hockey matches always point out the negative sides of the fight.

They say the fight brings concussions, damages the mental health of the players, and could also cause even death.

They focus more on the mental side. They say the fights in the hockey matches leave bad impressions on kids and set wrong examples.

They point out that the fight is a symbol of violence and should be omitted immediately as fights are not only wrong but also illegal in a civilized society.

Official NHL Fighting Rule (Rule 46)

Many people who want to know more about the fights that occur in hockey matches always search for the official NHL rule regarding hockey match fights.

There is such a rule which is Rule no 46. Let me tell you what that rule says regarding fights.

It says a fight will be considered to have happened when at the minimum 1 player hits or takes the attempt to hit one opponent player continuously, and/or when 2 players get involved in wrestling in such a way that the linesmen find it hard to interfere and take apart the involved players.

As you can see, this rule says that players can be involved in a fight as it does not forbid players from fighting, rather it is pointing out a situation when it could be called a fight.

The Current & Future State Of Fighting in the NHL

The NHL authority currently has set a New Normal rule for the players as well as the hockey matches.

They have brought a new rule where they have removed the previous rule of Fisticuffs that used to allow the fights.

Adding more to the information, they have introduced Rule no 46 where they have given the referees fair freedom where the referees now can determine which action is an act of fight and what kind of penalties can be applied against the fight.

What Are The Common Facts About Fighting In Hockey?

Some common facts in hockey fighting are –

  • This is a tradition of hockey since the earliest days of this game.
  • In the 1970s decade, teams used to literally hire goons to win the trophy.
  • In the 2016-17 NHL season, there were 1230 matches and 372 fights.
  • Fighting in hockey matches is banned everywhere. Only NHL is allowing the players to fight against each other till now.

What Is The History Of Fighting In Hockey?

NHL introduced the Fisticuffs rule first in 1922, where players used to be given a maximum 5 minutes penalty rather than got disqualified from playing the match for fighting.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the unwritten rule of hockey fighting?

People often talk about the unwritten rule of fighting in hockey matches. It is called the Secret Code and it is nowhere written in the rule books of hockey.

The Secret Code says if you want to start a fight, do not just attack someone from behind or just hit a punch on their face.

Just talk through your eyes and they will understand that you want to drop the gloves!

2. Why fighting in hockey is good?

People who support fighting in hockey matches argue pointing out the traditional part of the game.

Fighting has been considered a tradition of hockey matches since the earliest days of the game. Once upon a time, teams used to hire goons to win matches.

Another theory of them is, that if you ban fighting from hockey matches, the players will find another way for undercover hits, and they will start using the hockey stick for it, which will be more drastic.

3. Is fighting allowed in college hockey?

If a player gets involved in a fight in college hockey, he could be punished with a maximum of five minutes penalty or even a game disqualification.

A game disqualification means the offender player cannot take part in the current game and in the next game too.


So here in this write-up, I have discussed thoroughly the rule of fighting in hockey and why hockey players are allowed to fight.

I hope this article will help you in gathering more information on fights that take place in hockey matches. All the best!

Read More : The Science Behind Ice Hockey

Leave a Comment