Fighting. Like it or not, it’s been a part of hockey for a very, very long time. Hockey is a game of passion, speed, and power. Some players bring a combination of these three things. Some focus on finesse and skill. And some of those guys need to be protected.

When someone takes a shot at one of your players, hockey is a game where a fight can address the issue. Fighting has been and will continue to be a hot button issue in the NHL world. Personally, I think that fighting has its place in the league. And now it’s got its place in this blog.

As the NHL season sits on the horizon, kicking off tomorrow, allow me to introduce a new weekly column to Faceoff Factor. “Fisticuffs Friday” will break down all the week’s action in fighting. I’ll be evaluating fights across the league on a week-by-week basis. We’ll be keeping a master list of fighters, declaring winners, losers, and draws.

In this abbreviated NHL season, tension and passion will likely be very high. A high concentration of teams’ schedules are focused within their own division, and this tension usually boils over into something more. I’m not endorsing the Brawl on Long Island from a few years ago, but why shouldn’t we show some of the guys that protect the league’s elite some love too?

Each week, in addition to breaking down some of the top fights in the league, we’ll be tracking the league’s top 5 fighters by record. It’ll look something like this:

Fight Leaderboard
Name Team Pos. Record TKOs
Deryk Engelland PIT D 7-2-1 4
Arron Asham NYR RW 5-3-2 2
Steve Downie COL RW 4-4-1 3
Matt Carkner OTT D 4-2-0 2
Jay Beagle WAS ZZZ 0-1-0 0

The ranks will be tracked throughout the season, and we will be declaring a grand champion at the end of the year. I’d love to have reader feedback on the fights, either with the weekly column in the “comments” section, instantly on Twitter (@kohlslaw13) with feedback to fights as you watch them. Fighters amass two points per win, and one point per draw.

Remember, we’re tracking fights from all over the league, so if you want to get involved but you don’t get to watch many out-of-market games, a great resource is over at hockeyfights.com. Hop over, take a look, and send me your feedback on the previous week’s “Fisticuffs Friday” column. Your feedback can help determine winners and losers, and eventually determine the league-wide fighting champion of the year!
As I said, fighting has its place in the league. But there is no denying that there are good fights and there are dirty or bad fights. In the spirit of showing that fighting has a proper place, we’ll be tracking a “Wall of Shame” as it were. This tracker will follow the suspensions around the league doled out by Brendan Shanahan, and it’ll look something like this:

Suspension Leaderboard
Name Team Pos. Sus. GS
Raffi Torres PHX LW 1 10
Alex Ovechkin WAS LW 2 4
Trevor Gillies NYI LW 1 7
Zenon Konopka MIN C 1 4
Shawn Thornton BOS LW 1 2
* GS represents games suspended

Any fighter that finds himself as a part of both lists – whether inside or outside of the top-5 weekly list will be deducted points at a rate of (number of suspensions) x (number of games suspended). This will ensure that the type of fighting that we follow here is not the type of play that leads to “goonery” around the league. Plus, it’s a nice way to track the idiots around the league and their inability to play the game cleanly.

That all shakes down to something like this, as far as an overall leaderboard, using the fight board from before:

Fight Leaderboard  
Name Team Pos. Pts. SD Tot.
Deryk Engelland PIT D 15 0 15
Arron Asham NYR RW 12 0 12
Steve Downie COL RW 9 0 9
Matt Carkner OTT D 8 0 8
Jay Beagle WAS RW 0 0 0
* SD represents suspenison deductions
* Tot represents the total points after suspsion deductions are calculated

That’s about it for now. The puck drops tomorrow, and the gloves will drop soon after. Happy hunting, hockey fans.