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Five for Fighting: An in-depth analysis of fighting in the NHL — Part III

Part III of a series examining the physical and statistical impact of fighting in the NHL.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In the previous article, I examined how enforcers create a drag on possession and often spend more time taking penalties than drawing them. So what sort of overall effect does fighting have on an NHL team over the course of an entire season? I examined team's wins, losses and attendance from the 2005-2006 season through the lockout shortened year of 2013 and was able to draw several startling conclusions.

Impact on Team Wins

Fighting Chart 2

Fighting Chart 1

If we look at the R Square variable and the Significance/B Coefficient in the above tables, we are able to draw a solid conclusion on how fighting impact wins.

The R Square variable explains how many of a team's wins are impacted by fighting over the course of a season. This amount works out to roughly 43%. The second table explains the significance of that effect, and, at .004, it is highly significant. The B Coefficient indicates either a negative or positive trend, and in this case, it is a negative relationship.

So a highly significant negative relationship can explain 43% of a team's wins. This is highly concerning, because it points out a trend that the more often you fight, the more likely your team is to lose.

Impact on Team Losses

Fighting Chart 3

Fighting Chart 4

Much like with the first set of tables, the major points (R Square/Significance/B Coefficient) paint a trend for fighting in relation to losses. The amount of variance that can be explained by fighting in a loss works out to roughly 32%. While not quite as high as the variance in wins, it is still a large amount for such an unimportant part of the game. The B Coefficient indicates a positive trend between losses and the amount a team fights and this is again paired with a significance of .018 making it a highly related trend.

With the information in the first chart paired with this it makes sense that the more you fight, the less likely you are to win games, meaning you're obviously going to lose more.

Now it is entirely unfair to place the brunt of the blame for wins/losses solely on fighting in the sport of hockey. Things like injuries, poor puck luck, travel schedule and any other unexpected bumps in the road can have adverse effects. However, it is impossible to ignore the negative trend between fighting and a team's record.

We can further expand on this correlation and it's impact on attendance as well. The relationship there is far more complicated, as numerous variables such as location, team loyalty, etc. pop up. But if a team is fighting a lot, then they are also more likely to lose games, which in turn can deter fans who always want their team to win (2014-15 Buffalo Sabres excluded).

After examining three major facets of fighting in the NHL — the physical impact, statistical impact, and the impact on a team's record — we have a very broad picture of what fighting really does. In short, it has minimal (if any) redeemable value for teams across the league, no matter which light you paint it in.

Part II: The Offensive Impact Part III: The Impact on Record Part IV: Conclusion