Fisticuffs may be frowned upon in most pro sports, the Boston Globe reports, but the NHL has a definite, if brutal, code to fighting on the ice that goes back to hockey’s rural Canadian origins. Most fights are mutually agreed upon between players, and brawlers know who not to go after. “It’s the show of respect for each other,” one coach said.
Fights often start when players want to make a name, or as retribution for a slight like a hard check. But not always. “It’s different after a dirty hit, where there are cheap shots and guys are jumping in,” one heavyweight said. For those who fight, it’s a profession. “Nobody likes getting punched in the face,” says Boston’s Shawn Thornton. “But it’s a job.”