Guess that old joke about watching a fight when a hockey game broke out isn't so funny after all:
Because they know so many fans love fighting, the International Hockey League owners changed the rules this summer to add an extra game roster spot and encourage more of it.
[. . .]
The league cut the roster from 19 to 18 last season, but fights were down. The owners figured they were already paying two players to sit in the stands each night, so why not put one back in the lineup?
“I think most places would like to see a minimum of two fights a game,” Komets captain Guy Dupuis said. “As long as it's not dirty or with stick work or hitting from behind, I don't see any problem with that. We're here to entertain. The majority of places, especially Fort Wayne, like to see their fights.”
Fighting used to be a more regular part of the game, especially in the minor leagues. Over the last 15 years, the rules have changed to encourage more offensive skill, helping phase out players who could fight but not skate a regular shift, especially defensively. The speed of a player's skates was more important than his hands against a speed bag.
Fancy skating and offensive skills? Who wants to see any of that nonsense when there's the possibility of a good fight? I've never been a hockey fan, and I guess it shows a certain amount of denseness to proclaim disdain for sports violence, but I still confess to surprise at the straightforwardness with which fighting is encouraged and the candor with which it is discussed.
Having never experienced a hockey fight, I had to go to YouTube. This guy claims the following is the best minor league hockey fight ever, but I'll have to let you be the judge.