Fighting has probably been a part of the game of ice hockey ever since the first biscuit was dropped on a frozen pond. NHL and North American minor leagues are the only place when fighting during regulation is even an option, anywhere else and it’s punishable by ejection from the game.
With so much adrenaline flying around on the ice in this fast-paced game, all it takes is a glance or a few words to make a hot-headed player to drop the gloves on an opponent. Fights often break out during intense match-ups, when frustration builds to the point of breaking, an unfair check on a teammate, or just bad blood between rivals.
Linesmen, responsible for breaking up such scraps between players, might let a fight go on for a minute before attempting to separate the tough-guy opponents if they think it will help to cool down the tension of the game, but if the fight endangers one of the players more than usual or could get out of hand, immediate intervention is taken.
None of this is ever staged or contrived. There is a lot going on out on that ice that fans never get to hear, and in a physical game like hockey, I can’t even imagine the words that get tossed back and forth.
There is always a lot of debate about fighting in the NHL, some say the violence is a turn-off, while others argue it is part of what makes the game even more exciting and real. Whatever side you take, here’s a video worth watching: the recent March 19, 2012 game between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Three fights within a second of the puck dropping.