Fighting Still Very Much Alive in Hockey
It’s obvious that fighting numbers have gone down in the NHL recently, but there are still a couple of players carrying the league’s fighting legacy. Since the full-time enforcer has all but disappeared, the modern enforcer has had to adapt to the new style of play in the NHL — contributing physically while being reliable defensively. Currently leading the way in fighting this season are Jared Boll and Cody McLeod with 12 fights each, while Matt Martin and Chris Thorburn follow close behind. Below I will discuss what makes each of these four candidates the best fighters in the league.
Jared Boll of the Anaheim Ducks, who led the league last season with 34 fights, has really made a name for himself when it comes to dropping the gloves. Per Hockeyfights.com he has won 5 fights and lost two (5–2), with the rest being draws. Jared has made a career of this with multiple seasons of over 20 fights, and continues to show the league that he is a heavyweight fighter. Boll helps his team gain energy, but has also had two assists this year.
Cody McLeod is a career fighter — similar to the rest of the players we are discussing. McLeod spent the beginning of the season with the Colorado Avalanche, before being traded to the Nashville Predators. So far he has won 6 fights, lost 3, and tied 3 (6–3–3). He has also managed to put up five points, but the stat truly proving his effectiveness is his plus/minus of only –1. For the Predators they need to have someone like McLeod in the lineup to protect their young, talented core.
Matt Martin was a long underrated fourth-line player with the New York Islanders. Never afraid to throw his weight around, Martin also chips in enough offensively to stay effective in the fourth-line role. Martin’s contributions didn’t go unnoticed, as he signed a four year/$10 million contract last year with the Maple Leafs. Martin has proven his worth once again with 7 points and a +1 rating, providing solid relief for the Leafs young stars as well as participating in 10 fights.
Chris Thorburn is the final fighter of the four candidates. Thorburn has been a member of the Thrashers/Jets organization since the 2007/08 season, and there’s certainly a reason they keep him around. Thorburn has registered ten fights so far this season, and his presence is needed to protect players like Patrick Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers.
Although it seems fighting has partially lost its place in the game, these players are showing why fighting will always be a vital part of the National Hockey League. Players like Matt Martin and Jared Boll make others think twice about going into the corner to throw a borderline hit on a star player. Enforcing and fighting is an entertaining part of the game, and I hope more players step up to the plate to continue showing why fighting should remain a part of the league.