11 Rough-and-Tumble Facts About Hockey Fights

Getty Images
Getty Images

Nothing heats up hockey fans like an argument about dropping the gloves—a tradition with a long, bloody, and bizarre history.

1. The NHL’s Official 1922 Rule Book Referred to One-on-One Fights as “Fisticuffs.”

Such skirmishes, the league determined that year, would usually result in penalties instead of automatic ejections.

2. Not Every League is OK with fighting.

American players have to turn the other cheek in college: the NCAA punishes fighters by ousting them from both their current game and their next one. Meanwhile, scraps are strictly banned in both the Olympics and European hockey leagues.  

3. NHL Smack-Downs Peaked in the Early '80s.

An average of 1.17 violent altercations per game erupted during the record-setting 1983-84 season while 2013-14 had to make do with a pedestrian .38.

4. One Infamous Junior Brawl Raged On in the Dark

Things got ugly during 1987’s World Junior Ice Hockey Championship final game. Theoren Fleury scored Canada’s opening goal against the Soviet Union and celebrated by turning his stick into a prop machine gun and “firing” on the U.S.S.R. bench. This showboating irked his opponents, who grew even more frustrated when Canada claimed a 4-2 lead halfway through the contest. Slowly but surely, hostilities mounted.

With a little over 6 minutes left in the second period, Russian player Sergei Shesterikov smacked into Canadian Everett Sanipass. As they traded punches, Fleury got into his own tussle, and a bench-clearing slugfest ensued. The carnage raged on for nearly 20 minutes, even after officials tried turning out the arena’s lights in a hopeless attempt to restore order. Finally, the game was nullified and both countries were ejected from the tournament.

5. Fighting Declines Significantly During the NHL’s Playoffs

When Lord Stanley’s Cup beckons, teams tend to clean up their act. Over the past 20 years, the average NHL post-season has seen roughly one-fifth as many brawls as the preceding regular season.

6. Some Historians Blame the Invention of Blue Lines for Encouraging Clashes

These lines, which effectively trisect regulation hockey rinks, help referees recognize when a player’s made an illegal maneuver. But have they caused more harm than good? By restricting certain movements, many believe that the blue lines—introduced in 1918—sparked a new level of physicality and aggressiveness.

7. Former Presidential Hopeful Tim Pawlenty Claims Hockey Fights have Helped His Political Career.

You don’t attack team captains.” “Don’t pick a fight with someone well below your weight class.” “Never check someone from behind.” Players, fans, and journalists can talk your ear off about pro hockey’s unwritten fighting rules. Apparently, Tim Pawlenty, an ex-Minnesota governor, enjoys the “order beneath [this] chaos.” “I apply some of the unwritten rules of the ‘code’ in negotiations and dealings with political opponents,” he says. “If you give your word, you’ve got to keep it …sometimes it’s up to you to enforce those agreements.”

8. Occasionally, Referees Participate.

In 2013, when a Slavic ref got smacked, he threw down his helmet, and proceeded to duke it out with an unruly Russian player. Less comically, one Swedish official came under fire 11 months later after dragging forward Marius Holtet onto open ice and putting him in a choke hold!

9. Not Even Charity Games are Safe From Bouts.

Since 1974, teams assembled by the NYPD and FDNY have been facing off in hockey games to help support various charities. But good causes don’t always necessitate good behavior. Last year, New York’s finest handed Big Apple's firefighters an 8-5 loss, but it was the contest’s epic rumble that made headlines: 25 minutes elapsed before play resumed and, at one point, virtually every non-goalie player on both teams entered the fray.

10. There May be a Statistical Correlation Between Fighting and Team Productivity

Economic research analyst/die-hard hockey buff Terry Appleby claims that, after a bout, there’s a  76 percent chance of at least one team upping the ante and creating more scoring opportunities for themselves within the next three minutes (though, by his own admission, he’s not yet sure if this translates into actual goals and/or wins).

11. Fighting’s Been a Part of Hockey Culture Since (At Least) the 1870s.

On March 3, 1875, spectators gathered at a Montreal skating rink to witness “a novel contest on the ice.” This became the first indoor hockey game in recorded history and—fittingly—it came with a shoving match. The fast-paced sport didn’t sit well with certain repeat customers, who felt their rink was getting needlessly scratched up. They confronted the players about it and, lo & behold, fists started flying. Go figure.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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22 Creepy Cryptids From Around the World

Belgian painter Pieter Dirkx's interpretation of the Mongolian death worm.
Belgian painter Pieter Dirkx's interpretation of the Mongolian death worm.

According to Merriam-Webster, a cryptid is an animal "that has been claimed to exist but never proven to exist." But as Bigfoot believers and Loch Ness Monster enthusiasts are often quick to point out, it’s pretty difficult to prove that something doesn’t exist. Plus, it’s much more fun to indulge in the idea that giant sea monsters and hairy humanoids are roaming the uncharted corners of the planet.

On this episode of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is taking viewers across time and space to unearth legends about lesser-known monsters that, again, haven’t been proven to not exist. Take the Mongolian death worm, a lamprey-like nightmare that supposedly lives in the Gobi Desert and radiates a poison so strong that you could die just by standing near it. If you’re an ill-behaved child or a Catholic who scarfs down steak every Friday during Lent, watch out for the Rougarou, a Louisiana-based werewolf that sniffs out those two demographics.

Learn about more fearsome, fascinating cryptids of all kinds in the video below, and subscribe to the Mental Floss YouTube channel for future episodes of The List Show.