Monday, November 13, 2006

Do fights provide an emotional lift to NHL teams?

There's a new study that shows that fighting majors increase an NHL teams success on the ice. That's according to this story in today's National Post.

The preliminary paper, called "NHL Team Production," is by John Herald Heyne and Aju Fenn, two Colorado College sports economists, and Stacey Brook (of "The Wages of Wins").

From the story:

An intensive numbers-crunching of five years of statistics shows major penalties … increases the total [standings?] points of the offending player's team and decreases the number of goals scored by their opponents.

For each [major] penalty minute served, a team accrued 0.07 points and decreased their opposition's scoring by 0.24 goals.

"It is clearly not the act of laying a guy out that is going to help your team win, but it spurs the team on, it rallies your teammates and prompts them to dig deeper," [Fenn] said in an interview.

This confuses me a bit … within a game, the number of fights is almost always the same for both teams. Shouldn't the teams get the same emotional lift? Why would the number of fights in games other than this one produce a different mental effect for each team? (Unless, of course, the "rallies the teammates" effect carries into subsequent games.)

Anyway, I shouldn't be speculating before I read the full paper. The article didn't give a link, or even a title, but I'll look for it online.

UPDATE: I found the paper online ... link added to paragraph 2.


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