Fight stirs buzz as NHL’s numbers drop
Fighting in the NHL has declined dramatically in recent seasons.
According to statistics on Hockeyfights.com, only 18.9 percent of games this season have had a fighting major on the scoresheet. In 2017-18, 17.9 percent of games had fights.
Compare that to five seasons ago (2013-14) when 29.8 percent of games had fights or 10 seasons ago (2008-09) when it was at 41.4. With the All-Star break two weeks away, the Senators’ Ben Harpur leads the league with five fights going into Wednesday.
But if you are thinking that fighting in the NHL is becoming extinct, you might want to look at Tuesday’s Ryan Reaves vs. Adam McQuaid fight.
One commenter under the YouTube video of the battle referred to it as “Mayweather vs. McGregor of the NHL.”
The bout had more intense punches, over a shorter span, than you usually see. Neither player backed down, though Reaves overwhelmed McQuaid with a flurry of punches in the end.
“That was a heavyweight battle,” MSG broadcaster Sam Rosen said as the fight broke up.
Golden Knights forward Reaves is 6-1, 225 pounds and has 845 penalty minutes in his regular-season career. Rangers defenseman McQuaid is 6-4, 210 pounds with 667 career penalty minutes.
One commenter offered that Reaves is “creeping” into the “all-time toughest fighters conversation.”
But from the broader perspective, this fight could be the centerpiece of the debate about fighting in the NHL. There is a group of fans, evidenced by 161 comments, that enjoyed that scrap as an athletic event.
On the other side, there are a growing number of hockey insiders that would view the intensity of this fight as the reason fighting should be banned as part of the continuing drive to prevent brain injuries.
Even though fighting is on a sharp decline, this debate is far from settled in the NHL.
Golden Knights right wing Ryan Reaves and Rangers defenseman Adam McQuaid fought during the third period Tuesday.