- New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series
Edited by Plácido Rodríguez, Stefan Késenne and Jaume García
Chapter 5: Returns to thuggery in the National Hockey League: the effects of increased enforcement
The roles that fighting and violence play within the National Hockey League (NHL) have been the focus of numerous studies within the economics literature. The interest in the topic is rooted in the fact that the NHL is the only professional team sport in North America (and perhaps the world) that does not automatically eject players who fight during a game. This is connected to the common perception that the NHL condones, and possible tacitly encourages, a certain level of fighting and violence in order to better sell its game to fans. However, there is also an opposite perception that fans like free-flowing offensive hockey culminating in goals scored, and on-ice fighting may prevent such exciting attacking play. If players who fight or commit lesser infractions help their teams win – by preventing the opposition from scoring, by intimidating the opposition or by protecting their own team’s offensive players – then this contribution to wins should ultimately be rewarded in salary compensation.
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