The rules by the International Ice Hockey Federation (for men at least) says this -

enter image description here

Basically, there's a penalty for fighting. I think it's the same in the NHL and I'm unfamiliar with any other leagues.

In most other sports that aren't actual fights (like boxing), players almost always get ejected for throwing a punch, even if it doesn't connect.

Obviously it's tolerated because the rules don't say it's not tolerated. I'm asking why this is the case.


1 Answer 1


Firstly, note that the IIHF rules (on the left in your image) include "an Automatic Game Misconduct or a Match penalty". Both of those result in the player taking no further part in the match, so fighting isn't allowed under IIHF rules.

Therefore I think your question should really be "Why is fighting tolerated in the NHL?" The answer to that one is because sport is entertainment, and there is a long-term belief that fans want to see fights. While some more recent studies show that the effect is perhaps neutral, fighting is a part of hockey traditions. This Guardian article probably captures it correctly:

until teams throughout the sport – and not just NHL teams in Canada or the United States – see a negative impact on their bottom line, fighting is probably going to continue to exist in the sport

  • 1
    While I mostly agree, I would add that sports often reflect the popular culture that they're housed in. Around the NHLs inception it was a time when men were men, and machismo surrounded not only the culture of the sport, but of popular culture in general. These days attitudes are starting to shift in a lot of places and there is beginning to be elements of concerted effort to remove violence from sports. The NHL is already feeling this pressure, not just because of effects on ticket sales, but also because it's getting harder to hide behind the absurdity of it.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Apr 26, 2018 at 19:39
  • Okay, yeah I thought the left part of that image were possibilities of penalties, as options. Apr 26, 2018 at 21:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.