The Norman Transcript

National Sports

February 1, 2013

Fights spiking in another short NHL season

DETROIT — Wanna fight?

If you’re an NHL player, you can probably find somebody to drop the gloves.

A lockout-delayed and shortened season has created a spike in fights around the league, just as it did the last time labor woes led to a 48-game season.

There were 58 fights through the first 87 games this year, following play on Tuesday night, an increase from 39 after the same number of games last season, according to STATS. During the 1994-95 season, there were 83 fights over the first 87 games of that lockout-shortened slate, a jump from 58 during the same stretch previous season.

“Obviously, you have a situation where the players are being thrown into the immediate intensity of a shortened season and that certainly may play a role,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote Thursday in an email to The Associated Press. “We monitor these things as well, and the number of fighting majors have decreased significantly and begun to normalize over the last week. I expect that will continue over the balance of the season.”

There were, in fact, fewer fighting penalties than games on Monday for the first time since the season started with 12 fights in 13 games. And on Wednesday, there were six fights in four games.

But there were a season-high 16 fights in 10 games on Tuesday, when Detroit Red Wings forward Jordin Tootoo and fought two different players in the opening period against the Dallas Stars.

Tootoo has been a part of two of the four fights that have started within the first three seconds of a game this season. When the gloves drop soon after the puck does, the fights seem orchestrated by World Wrestling Entertainment decision-makers.

“For me personally, nothing is staged,” Tootoo insisted. “It’s spontaneous. It’s all about the eye contact. You kind of say, ‘Let’s do it,’ without saying a word.”

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