As part of a series I’m doing this season, I want to take a look at fighting in the NHL. This series will appear on this site. There are various aspects I’m going to be reviewing throughout the season which all leads to one central hypothesis: “Can the NHL move away from fighting in its entirety?”
Reviewing the first team, the New Jersey Devils, let’s take a look at their roster and their fight card for each player. I’ll be including the number of fights each player has had over the course of their career.
|14||Adam Henrique||C||Brantford, Ontario||CANADA||2||Last fight: May 21, 2012 versus Ryan McDonagh (NYR @ NJD)|
|17||Michael Ryder||RW||St. John’s, Newfoundland||CANADA||0|
|19||Travis Zajac||C||Winnipeg, Manitoba||CANADA||3||Last fight: March 4, 2011 versus Kris Letang (PIT @ NJD)|
|20||Jordin Tootoo||RW||Churchill, Manitoba||CANADA||78||Last fight: November 4, 2013 versus Chris Thorburn (DET @ WPG)|
|22||Eric Gelinas||D||Vanier, Ontario||CANADA||0|
|23||Mike Cammalleri||LW||Richmond Hill, Ontario||CANADA||2||Last fight: April 25, 2013 versus Kris Russell (CGY @ STL)|
|24||Bryce Salvador||D||Brandon, Manitoba||CANADA||44||Last fight: October 7, 2013 versus Mike Brown (NJD @ EDM)|
|28||Damon Severson||D||Brandon, Manitoba||CANADA||N/A|
|29||Ryane Clowe||LW||St. John’s, Newfoundland||CANADA||64||Last fight: March 18, 2014 versus Milan Lucic (BOS @ NJD)|
|2||Marek Zidlicky||D||Most, Czech Republic||EUROPE||6||Last fight: October 31, 2009 versus Sidney Crosby (MIN @ PIT)|
|5||Adam Larsson||D||Skelleftea, Sweden||EUROPE||0|
|8||Dainius Zubrus||LW||Elektrenai, Lithuania||EUROPE||9||Last fight: December 29, 2010 versus Brian Boyle (NYR @ NJD)|
|9||Martin Havlat||LW||Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic||EUROPE||1||Last fight: March 23, 2002 versus Yannick Tremblay (ATL @ OTT)|
|12||Damien Brunner||RW||Zurich, Switzerland||EUROPE||0|
|16||Jacob Josefson||C||Stockholm, Sweden||EUROPE||0|
|26||Patrik Elias||C||Trebic, Czech Republic||EUROPE||4||Last fight: April 1, 2002 versus Darren Van Impe (NJD @ NYI)|
|68||Jaromir Jagr||RW||Kladno, Czech Republic||EUROPE||0|
|6||Andy Greene||D||Trenton, MI||USA||0|
|7||Jon Merrill||D||Oklahoma City, OK||USA||0|
|11||Stephen Gionta||C||Rochester, NY||USA||1||Last fight: September 19, 2013 versus Joe Diamond (NYI @ NJD)|
|35||Cory Schneider||G||Marblehead, MA||USA||0|
|40||Scott Clemmensen||G||Des Moines, IA||USA||0|
|Scott Gomez||C||Anchorage, Alaska||USA||2||Last fight: April 17, 2010 versus Tom Poti (MTL @ WAS)|
|TOTAL FIGHTS (EUROPEAN PLAYER)||20|
|TOTAL FIGHTS (USA PLAYER)||3|
|TOTAL FIGHTS (CANADIAN PLAYER)||193||186 of which came from 3 players.|
You can see that one of the elements I’m reviewing is the region where the majority of these fighters emerge. You’ll see in this case that most of the fights were generated by Canadians. 186 of those fights specifically came from three Canadians: Ryane Clowe, Bryce Salvador and Jordin Tootoo.
In a time when people want to believe the era of the goon/enforcer is over, it would appear that a few are still surviving in the NHL. The only difference is that their role has evolved. Not only do they need to fight and skate, but they also need to be able to play hockey.
Of the current Devils roster, only four players fought last season: Jordin Tootoo, Bryce Salvador, Ryane Clowe and Stephen Gionta (3 Canadians and 1 American). For Gionta, that was also his first NHL fight (which occurred during the preseason).
Of the eight European players, only half (50%) have ever fought. The most recent fight came four years ago on December 29, 2010 from Dainius Zubrus. Both Martin Havlat and Patrik Elias have not fought since 2002 (12 years ago). For the NHL player that has currently been in the NHL the longest, Jaromir Jagr, he has never fought in a single game in his 20+ years in the NHL. Sure, there have been players that took a swing at him, but he never engaged them in a match.
Only two of the six (33%) Americans have fought. If you discount the two goalies, that means only half (50%) of the American skaters have fought. Gomez, being the eldest, has only fought two times in his career. Yet, all of the Americans combined are not able to match up to the total fights of either the Canadians or the Europeans.
Six out of the nine (67%) Canadians have fought in their career. If you discount rookie Damon Severson (who is making his NHL start this season), that number becomes six out of eight (75%) Canadians. Only Michael Ryder and Eric Gelinas (who will be entering into his sophomore year) have never fought.
This is an important distinction to make. Six out of eight or 75% of Canadians on the Devils roster have fought at some point in their career. While hockey has been considered a Canadian sport, perhaps there is something to be said about the violence in this sport coming from Canada. Perhaps the reason why fighting can’t be stopped is because it’s in the Canadian game.
We’ll be digging further into that assumption this season as we take a look at the NHL as a whole, team by team.
[Statistical Source: HockeyFights.com]