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Study Suggests Hockey Fights Not as Dangerous as Many Believe

From Randy Dotinga at US News:

Brawls on the ice are a staple of professional ice hockey games, but are they as vicious as they look? A new study suggests that few punches thrown during National Hockey League games end in significant injury.

The study claims that fighting on skates isn’t particularly dangerous, possibly because it’s hard to get traction for a powerful punch on the ice, said co-author Dr. David Milzman, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

“They get a lot more injuries being checked into the boards, being hit from behind,” he said.

Milzman went even further: “I’ve watched enough hockey that I can tell you clearly that if you take the release valve of fighting out of it, you’d have a lot more dirty playing, and probably more injuries would result from players not being able to blow off steam by fighting.”


Also, more details of the study available in today’s National Post.

Update 3:06pm ET: Some words from Georges Laraque on the topic as well.

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink



Did anyone really think that hockey fights were worse for people than street fights or barroom brawls?

It looks to me like that’s all that the study really did: Compare hockey fights to other kinds of fights, and then conclude that they aren’t as bad.

Posted by dzuunmod on 10/21/11 at 03:50 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Here is the quote from the article which Puck Daddy highlighted (and Paul did not)

The risk of concussion in a fight was much lower for brawling hockey players (0.39 percent) compared to the per-game risk for those who checked one another (nearly 4.5 percent).

Those numbers make no sense at all.  The per-game injury risk of concussions is 4.5%?  There are two teams of 20 players each dressing per game.  Is that supposed to mean that each player has a 4.5% chance of getting a concussion each game?  That means we would expect 1.8 concussions per game in the NHL season.  That number isn’t close to being true.  Its so far from reality it is silly.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 10/21/11 at 05:03 PM ET


@Puckstopshere: I’m thinking that what the stat means is that in any given game, there is a 4.5% chance of *any player in the game* getting a concussion. Not that it’s a 4.5% chance for each individual player.

So, divide 4.5% by 40 players (two teams) and you get a rough idea of what the chance is for each individual player.

That’s how I interpreted it, anyway.

Posted by dzuunmod on 10/21/11 at 05:11 PM ET

Alanah McGinley's avatar

PSH—I’m not sure what you’re saying, but I think you’re misreading his statement of the data.  He says 4.5% “for those who checked one another” sustain concussions on average, not 4.5% of all the players in the game.

Posted by Alanah McGinley from British Columbia on 10/21/11 at 05:12 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar


Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/21/11 at 05:22 PM ET


They compared all hockey fights with non-hockey fights in which someone was treated in a hospital?
and concluded that hockey fights have less injuries? 
Seems like these sample might be biased.

Plus, reported injuries, and the chances of being injured in one fight are not the only issue when it comes to fighting.  How many reported injuries from fighting did Probert have in his career?  It seems that there is mounting evidence that there are serious long term consequences to fighting, particularly for players in the “enforcer” role.

Posted by Jwad on 10/21/11 at 05:29 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

It says per game concussion risk.  That means that if you play a game and get hit you have a 4,5% chance of getting a concussion.

Almost every player checks one another in a game.

Even if there is some reasonable explanation for the 4.5% number, I think it is evident that this is an apples and oranges comparison designed to make the concussion risk from a fight look lower than it is.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 10/21/11 at 06:03 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I believe “those” is the smallest word I’ve ever seen anybody on here have a problem defining.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/21/11 at 06:12 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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