There are two things in the NHL that can get almost every fan to jump out of their seats and cheer. One is a goal, the other is a fight. People have argued for years about the importance of fighting in the game and we understand both sides of the argument. Regardless, the fact remains that fans enjoy fights. If you think otherwise, go to a game and watch what happens when a fight breaks out.
You won’t see 17,000 people shielding their eyes, you’ll see nearly 17,000 people standing and cheering. You’ll also see players from each team tapping their sticks on the boards or the ice in appreciation of the two combatants. We’re not here to argue that fighting does or doesn’t have a place in the game today, we’re just here to look at the teams that are still throwing fists in the NHL.
When looking at which teams fight the most, you’ll find that they don’t usually have one player who’s just out there gooning it up — a change from the old days when each team would have a designated enforcer who was more or less there just to fight. Today’s teams have skill players who — while they are not afraid to fight — don’t make it their main focus. So, which teams are fighting the most during the 2015-16 NHL season?
5. Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets may be at the bottom of the Central Division standings, but there’s one thing that they lead their division in, and that’s fighting majors. The Jets have 26 fighting majors this season — five more than the next team in the Central Division, the St. Louis Blues. When it comes to who leads the team in fisticuffs, Chris Thorburn is the runaway leader. So far this season, Thorburn has seven fights, almost doubling up second-ranked Anthony Peluso, who has four.
In all, the Jets have 10 players who have dropped the gloves at least once this season, including star players Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. Ladd has fought three times this season; Byfuglien once. The Jets have always been a pretty active fighting team (in the two previous seasons they had 32 and 33 fights). Thorburn’s seven fighting majors ties him for fourth in the NHL with nine other players.
3. (tied) Ottawa Senators
The presence of the Ottawa Senators on this list may surprise some people, but it shouldn’t. Over the last few years the Senators have not been shy about dropping the gloves and letting the fists fly. In 2013-14, the team had 39 fights, last year they had 33, and this season they have put in work on 27 occasions. Leading the team with eight fighting majors is Mark Borowiecki. In total, the Senators have seven players with at least one fight this season. Borowiecki’s eight majors tie him with Jordin Tootoo of the New Jersey Devils for second in the league.
3. (tied) Philadelphia Flyers
If you follow hockey, you kind of expect the Flyers to be on this list year after year. Flyers’ owner Ed Snider has put together a team that has been physical ever since the early days of the franchise (the late 1960s), when the St. Louis Blues pushed them around in the playoffs during the first two years of the Flyers’ existence. This season the Flyers have 27 fights as a team, and per Snider’s vision, they spread those fights around pretty well.
Currently, 15 players have fought at least once this season with Wayne Simmonds leading the team with five fighting majors on the season. Simmonds is not a goon by any means; he’s currently third on the team in scoring with 38 points. The Flyers have had up and down years of fighting as of late, and this year looks like it will be one of those down years, especially when you consider the fact that the team had 45 fighting majors in 2013-14 and 57 in 2011-12.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been one of the fightingest teams in the NHL over the last few seasons. The team was actually the runaway leader last season, racking up a whopping 44 fights (nine more than the second-ranked Anaheim Ducks). The man who led the team last year was Jared Boll, with 15 fights over the course of the season. But by no means was it a one-man fighting show in Columbus last year; 15 players fought at least once over the course of the 2014-15 season.
This season, the Blue Jackets are in a tight race for the league lead, sitting one fight behind the league leading Anaheim Ducks. Boll is still with the team, and he’s still throwing hands, but he’s not the team leader this year. That honor goes to Gregory Campbell with six fights. Boll comes in second with four. Like last season, the Blue Jackets are sharing the wealth this year; 15 players have fought at least once.
1. Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks have been climbing the fighting major rankings over the last few years. In 2013-14, the team finished in sixth place with 40 fights, last year they were second with 35, and this season they sit atop the league with 30. Leading the way for the Ducks is Chris Stewart with seven fighting majors this season. He is followed closely by Patrick Maroon, who has six fights.
The team currently has 10 players with at least one fight this season. The one thing the Ducks can say that no other teams on this list can is that they are in a spot to make the playoffs this season. The Ducks are currently in second place in the Pacific Division, trailing the Los Angeles Kings by a single point.