Fighting in the National Hockey League: Before, During, and After the Pandemic


  • Jenna M. Letterie
  • Cole M. Joslin
  • Paul Martin Sommers Middlebury College



National Hockey League, Pandemic, Fighting


Fighting has long been a tradition in the National Hockey League (NHL).  The impact of violence in the NHL on attendance has been widely studied.  But, one could only surmise the counterfactual of how empty arenas influence player behavior, that is, until 2020.  The COVID-19 pandemic forced NHL teams to severely limit attendance. The authors compare the proportion of regular season home games with at least one fight for each of the 31 NHL teams one season before, during, and one season after the 2020-21 NHL season.  Did the absence of fans impact fighting?  While there are few significant differences year to year (between 2019-20 and 2021-22), the incidence of fighting increased for most teams after fans were allowed back into arenas in 2021-22 compared to fighting one season before the COVID-19 NHL season without fans.


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Author Biography

Paul Martin Sommers, Middlebury College

Professor of Economics



How to Cite

Letterie, J., Joslin, C. ., & Sommers, P. M. (2023). Fighting in the National Hockey League: Before, During, and After the Pandemic. Journal of Student Research, 12(2).



Research Articles