A work of fiction involving the characters playing or attending a hockey game will see a fight break out. It's most commonly seen in Ice Hockey, to the point where that's all many people even know about hockey.
It's Truth in Television, but it's kind of a complicated trope. American works will tend to portray a hockey game as an excuse to find an opponent and beat the crap out of him without any real consequences for your team. Canadian portrayals, being very close to the sport, tend to show it for how Canadians see it: a very ritualistic aspect of the game, almost akin to an honour duel, where a team's designated "enforcer" stands up for his teammates by challenging anyone who takes liberties with them to some Good Old Fisticuffs.
Fighting is considered almost an anachronism in this day and age; it's tolerated at the absolute highest levels like the National Hockey League but considered unsportsmanlike at lower levels, especially in the youth ranks, where combatants can face expulsion and suspension. Works set in The '70s or The '80s are more likely to show hockey violence because fighting really was much more prevalent back then, including total melees involving everyone on both sides just punching each other.
The ritualistic aspect of hockey fighting is such that using any weapons such as your stick or skates is highly frowned upon — you can punch or grapple, and that's it. Combatants are expected to remove their gloves (which are not designed to cushion punches like boxing gloves) and fight bare-knuckled. Combatants are even often expected to remove their helmets, to allow your opponent to more easily punch you in the face. Even the technique is a ritual; because it's so difficult to keep your balance when fighting on skates, combatants tend to grab their opponent's jersey with one hand and punch with the other. The bare-knuckle aspect of it has led to the term "dropping the gloves" being a shorthand for fighting in hockey, and dramatically throwing them off your hands as you face your opponent is the hockey equivalent of Throwing Down the Gauntlet.
Examples of this trope:
- In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the Acerian immigrant Antoinette de Badin-Boucher arrives in Ankh-Morpork as a student at the assassins' school and is so obsessed with hockey that she sets up a rink in the Pork Futures Warehouse. Ten years later, it's an official hockey venue, and she invites fellow Acerians (and Swommi people) to come play there. Most of the games involve fighting, with a little hockey in between. It certainly suits the paying customers in Ankh-Morpork in any event.
- Inverted in Batman & Robin, where you would expect the dynamic duo to punch out their opponents, but instead they play an impromptu hockey game with a diamond.
- The Tooth Fairy is about a hockey player nicknamed "the Tooth Fairy" because he specializes in knocking people's teeth out. This is how he ends up being sentenced to being a real tooth fairy for a week.
- In Four Brothers, oldest brother Bobby Mercer earned the nickname "The Michigan Mauler" during his days in the minor leagues, and several of his fights are shown in the ending credits. He was missing quite a few teeth in those shots, too.
- Slap Shot is the seminal example of a hockey fighting movie: A down-on-its-luck hockey team in a Pennsylvania mining town hires three brothers who do nothing but beat the shit out of their opponents, and it not only helps the team win, but it drums up fan interest and saves them from folding. The Big Game at the end sees an Opposing Sports Team made up of the most brutal players they could find (some of whom had been banned from the sport for unelaborated reasons), and the whole thing devolves into a bloody riot on the ice (and a striptease). The film was made in The '70s and shows the trope as it was seen then, with frequent "line brawls" and bench-clearing melees, fighting during the breaks, fighting before the game even starts,note the entire team (save the one skill-guy) totally okay with joining in the fighting, and no real discussion as to whether that much fighting degrades the game — and when they refer to "old-time hockey", you wonder what kind of violence they grew up with.
- Goon is about a dim-witted bouncer who's hired to play for a minor-league hockey team for one reason: protect their star player from abuse. It's much more of an exploration into fighting in hockey and why it's done — standing up for one's teammates, the presence of designated "enforcers" who have much-anticipated duels, and the wisdom of using a valuable roster spot on someone who punches really well but is a liability in most other facets of the game. This film was made by a Canadian and is a much better insight into how Canadians see hockey fights and the people who engage in them.
- Several Canadian films based on a true hockey story feature a notable fight:
- The Rocket, about legendary Montreal Canadiens player Maurice Richard, has the New York Rangers bring up a minor-league tough guy specifically to take him out. It fails when Richard, a tough customer himself, delivers a Curb-Stomp Battle. It's an exaggeration of how it went in real life; while Bob Dill was an aggressive player and did get his ass handed to him, it wasn't really a curb-stomp and he wasn't specifically picked to target Richard.
- An early scene of Networth sees the Detroit Red Wings' Ted Lindsay and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Jimmy Thomson get into a lengthy and brutal fight on the ice. Later, though, they team up to fight the real enemy: the NHL's corrupt management, as they attempt to form a players' union.
Tagline: The bloodiest fight in the NHL wasn't on the ice.
- Keep Your Head Up: The Don Cherry Story, a biopic of the colourful Hockey Night in Canada commentator, begins with his career as a minor-league tough guy, which naturally includes many fights — including one right before meeting his fiancée's parents.
- In Strange Brew, the inmates at the insane asylum connected to the brewery play hockey games that are directed by musical cues to become all-out brawls, something Bob and Doug have a lot of fun with when they stumble upon it. It turns out to be a major plot point, as the inmates have been fed beer laced with mind-control drugs.
- In Canadian Bacon, the fight at the hockey game starts when visiting Americans insult the Canadian beer, driving both teams into the stands to pummel the Americans.
- Lampshaded in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: While the honor guards watch a hockey game on TV, Casey decides to get them to play for a bit. The guys are confused, so Casey clarifies, "just like [you] watched on TV." They then proceed to beat the crap out of each other.
Casey: I'll roll with that.
- In Happy Gilmore, the title character is a frustrated wannabe hockey player — he has a powerful slapshot, but no skating or stickhandling ability. He mentions that he set his league's penalty minutes record. He parlays that into a Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game (using a hockey stick instead of a golf club) and tries his "grab shirt and punch head" technique on Bob Barker (which backfires).
- Referenced in Animorphs, where Marco says of Blood Knight Rachel that if they were a hockey team, she'd be the goon, always looking for a fight.
- A Guy Like Me is an autobiography by NHL enforcer John Scott, the subject of one of the weirdest All-Star Games ever. In 2016, the participants were mostly decided by a fan vote, and fans who were bored with the entire concept of the All-Star Game decided to nominate Scott because he was a fighter and considered the least skilled player in the entire league. The idea spiralled out of control, and Scott became the most-demanded player in the game. The NHL, thinking this was just a prank and a mockery of the game, was reluctant to go along with it, and Scott was traded and sent down to the minor leagues. The fans were unrelenting, now realizing that they were being unnecessarily mean to Scott and figuring that he'd have a lot of fun and be a good show at the game. The NHL eventually allowed Scott to play, despite his technically not even being an NHL player. Not only did Scott play, he scored twice, was named the game's MVP, and was literally carried off the ice by his teammates like a champ. He even had a pretend fight! The whole thing illustrates the modern thinking of hockey enforcers that (a) they're actually some of the smartest, funniest, and best-like guys on their team; (b) they'll do whatever will help their team the most, and (c) even if they're the worst players in the NHL, they're still much much better at hockey than you'll ever be.
- CSI: NY has one in the episode "Reignited": the NYPD and FDNY are playing a charity game, where a fight breaks out after the game ends, started by one of the FDNY players (whose team won).
- In the CSI episode "Primum Non Nocere", a fight at an amateur hockey game leads to a pileup, and the player at the bottom is found dead with a slash on his throat. Then it turns out that that wasn't what killed him; it was a drug given to him by the team doctor.
- A Saturday Night Live Parody Commercial for Buddweiser (sic) stars Joe Piscopo and guest host Robin Williams as rival hockey players; Piscopo attacks Williams with his stick during the opening puck drop, and it escalates from there.
- On Bones, a murder suspect won't voluntarily give a DNA sample, and they can't get a warrant — so when Booth discovers that they play hockey in the same amateur league, Booth starts a fight in order to get the suspect's blood. Later, when discussing fighting, he shows off a video clip of a mate sustaining a broken arm in a hockey fight — and immediately concludes that the fall alone couldn't explain the break he got. It turns out he has a rare form of vicious bone cancer.
- One episode of Warehouse 13 has the team investigate a hockey player who is somehow able to heal instantly from the many would-be career-ending injuries he has sustained during games. He mostly uses this skill to fight.
- On Murdoch Mysteries, Detective Murdoch is investigating a hockey player's murder, and Dr. Grace concludes that the murder weapon must have been a hockey stick (use of which is a big no-no in "real" hockey fighting). They test all the sticks to see if they have blood on them — and it turns out they all do.
- In a Thanksgiving episode of Friends, Ross and Joey had promised they would come to Monica's Thanksgiving celebration, but they also have Rangers tickets and want to see the game. They agree to leave the game before it finishes, but it turns out to be exciting, and they start rationalizing that they'll leave after the next goal — or the next fight.
- In an episode of Due South, a videotape of a hockey game where a fight broke out it an important clue — Fraser and Ray bring it to a friend of Fraser's, who can (somehow) determine which seat a particular fan was in.
- A segment on 1000 Ways to Die focuses on a hockey player with a nasty temper starting a fight and accidentally getting his neck sliced by a skate blade, severing his jugular and causing him to bleed to death.
- "Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)" by Warren Zevon is the ballad of a Canadian hockey player who was best at beating other players up but who would rather score goals if he could.
- "Hockey Fight!" by The Aquabats! is a short track from the expanded version of Fury of the Aquabats!
Mix in a little hockey
With a big old fight
Gloves off, punch a face
Send a kid to outer space
- It would be simply impractical to list all the hockey fights that have occurred in the sport's history (although hockeyfights.com valiantly tries), but a few are notable enough to have their own Wikipedia pages:
- The the Good Friday Massacre was a 1984 playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Quebec Nordiques — two teams who absolutely hated each other. It started with a bench-clearing brawl right at the end of the second period and reignited with another fight as soon as the players took the ice to start the third period. Some of the combatants had already been ejected but nonetheless participated in the second fight (as the public address announcer was reading out their penalties), figuring they had nothing to lose. Montreal ended up scoring five goals in that third period to knock Quebec out of the playoffs. SB Nation has video for you.
- The Punch-up in Piestany was a bench-clearing brawlnote between Canada and the Soviet Union in the 1987 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. It lasted for 20 minutes, and the officials turned off the arena lights to try to stop the fight. It was particularly violent because all the combatants were hyped up teenagers trying to prove themselves without very much to play fornote , and the Soviets in particular were not very well versed in the Canadian hockey fighting ritual and were accused of going overboard as they defended themselves. Both teams were disqualified in the end.
- The 1997 brawl between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings really arose out of an incident in the playoffs the previous year when Avalanche tough guy Claude Lemieux smashed the Red Wings' Kris Draper's head into the boards, culminating in a series of fights and a hatred between the two teams that intensified when Colorado went on to win The Stanley Cup that year. The two teams met again on the eve of the playoffs in 1997, in a game which saw Red Wings enforcer Darren McCarty try to exact revenge on Lemieux — key word being "try", because Lemieux "turtled" on the ice, crouching under his helmet as McCarty repeatedly punched him. This infuriated both teams, culminating in a fight that included the two goalies duking it out. Did it work out for Detroit? Well, they won the next two Stanley Cups, so it probably did. The rivalry between the two teams was brief, but considered one of the most violent and fight-happy in hockey history. SB Nation has video for you here too.
- The 2004 brawl between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Ottawa Senators saw another goalie fight and a record-setting 419 penalty minutes between the two teams. This one took off with only two minutes left in the game, as Flyers enforcer Donald Brashear challenged his opposite number Rob Ray to a fight to avenge what he saw as the Senators taking liberties with his teammates; this led to a rule change in the NHL that enforced an automatic suspension for anyone who instigates a fight in the game's last five minutes.
- The 2011 brawl between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders was already seen as a sad echo of days past, as by this time there was already the spectre of post-concussion syndrome and other long-term effects of head trauma becoming known in the hockey world. This game saw the teams fight mostly because the Islanders were curb-stomping the Penguins, and this game included a goalie fighting an enforcernote . The Penguins' owner (and one-time superstar player in his own right) Mario Lemieuxnote said it was high time to rethink fighting in general — and he played in an era when if you didn't have fighting, players like him would be relentlessly knocked around by their opponents.
- The 2005 "Battle of the Hockey Enforcers" was an attempt to see what would happen if you took a whole bunch of hockey goons and put them in a one-night fighting tournament. It was broadcast on pay-per-view like a boxing match and had no real hockey in it; it was just bare-knuckle boxing on skates with fifteen minor-league hockey enforcers. The winner was LNAH player Dean Mayrand, who took home a prize of $62,250. The tournament was quite controversial; it took three tries to find a host and never had a second event, although it did serve as the inspiration for a Gemini Award-winning episode of CTV's newsmagazine W-Five.
- The arcade game Blades of Steel (later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System) was one of the first hockey video games to feature fighting, and only the loser gets sent to the penalty box. The arcade game had a giant red "FIGHT" button in the middle of the controls, much larger than the two standard-sized buttons used for passing and shooting, and there's also a fight depicted on the home version's box art.
- Ice Hockey for the NES could have a fight break out automatically just by having two characters fight too much for control of the buck. The winner is determined by whoever presses A the most often, and again, only the loser gets sent to the penalty box.
- Mutant League Hockey has a simple fighting minigame, and every player has a stat that determines his fighting skill. With penalties off, there's no punishment for fighting, and both participants keep playing as before; with penalties on, the winner goes to the penalty box for one minute while the loser goes in for three. There's also lots of other violence, especially with penalties off, since there are no rules at that point — you can make checks with punches, your stick, or even axes, hammers, and chainsaws.
- EA's NHL Hockey Series could have the players occasionally get into fights. Since this is a simulation series, though, a fight results in both players being given a five-minute major penalty as it would in real life. Later games in the series allow the player to not "drop the gloves", which means they only get a two-minute minor penalty for roughing (again as it would in real life, although without the baggage for effectively refusing a fight).
- DSBT InsaniT: An AIR Hockey Fight to be more precise, between Alex, Seth, and their Darkness counterparts in 'VRcade'.
- Several episodes of The Simpsons showcase hockey games that devolve into brutal fights, either on the ice or in the stands.
- At the end of "Lisa on Ice", Bart refuses to take a penalty shot on Lisa, and their game ends in a tie. The fans are utterly disappointed and decide they won't leave without a fight.
Hans Moleman: We came for blood!
- A later season throwaway gag features a Mortal Kombat-esque Fighting Game called Hockey Dads, which involves fights not between the players, who are just pee-wee aged, but between the fans, who are all hockey dads. The kids even plead for their dads to stop, and there's a button command to ignore them.
Kid: It's already assault! Don't make it murder!
- At the end of "Lisa on Ice", Bart refuses to take a penalty shot on Lisa, and their game ends in a tie. The fans are utterly disappointed and decide they won't leave without a fight.
- Played Up to Eleven in the Goofy short Hockey Homicide. For starters, the team captains spend the entire game in the penalty box because they can't stop fighting each other the moment they step onto the ice. The poor referee keeps getting run over by the players, to the point that he resorts to wearing a suit of armor. At the climax, all hell breaks loose, the sheer chaos intensified by the use of random Stock Footage from previous cartoons (even a guest appearance by Monstro). By the end, the spectators join in on the melee, while the players sit in the stands watching. (Disney's resident animated hockey team Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series don't show up because they only fight villains off the ice.)
- In Animalympics, ice hockey is literally depicted as war, complete with explosions. It also depicts field hockey; it's not as rough, but a referee does get Squashed Flat when he gets body-slammed between two players.