To prevent concussions and other serious injuries, the NHL will be eliminating traditional fighting from hockey. In place of traditional fist fights, the league announced on Thursday that “slap fights” will now be legal – and actually encouraged.
“No longer will players be able to engage in fist fights during a game,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “However, we realize the need for players to vent their frustration and work out some testosterone. That’s why we are making slap fights legal. We hope the players take full advantage of this new rule.”
There are specific guidelines for how a fight will be initiated and concluded:
For a slap fight to commence, each player must first explicitly agree to the confrontation. Once agreement is made, they will both signal to the nearest referee by removing their gloves and giving a double thumbs up. Players will then be able to slap each other across the face until someone either taps out or passes out, whichever comes first. Any closed-fist punches will result in an immediate ejection, 11 game suspension, and $100,000 fine.
Brendan Lemieux, left winger for the New York Rangers, complimented the NHL on the new rule. “I really like what the league is doing here,” Lemieux said. “It’ll bring more fighting back into the game, but in a safer form. I’m excited to get my palms dirty.”
The rule will take effect in the 2020-2021 season.
Correction: It was referenced in the article that players must give two thumbs up to initiate a fight. They only need to put up one thumb.