Hockey fighting is more of a sideshow than a genuine display of emotion and intensity. Usually, each team will have one or more designated goons (big, nasty guys who fight a lot), and if there is a lull in the action these goons will often agree with each other that it's time for them to have a fight and get everyone fired up. These guys are well paid and they know how to entertain.

Here's how the rules of fighting work: if a player skates up to another player, whips off his gloves and punches him, the other player will almost always begin to punch back. The player who started it will get a 2-minute-instigator penalty and both players will get offsetting fighting major penalties. The result is that the instigator's team has to kill off a penalty. Sometimes a player will not fight back, and will, instead, crumple to the ice with his hands over his head. This is called "turtling." Guys who turtle are looked upon with the utmost scorn because they are wimps.

The more common sort of fight is where two players get angry with each other. They start yelling at each other and giving each other macho signals until they're both sure they want to go, and then they drop sticks and gloves and start punching. The dropping of the gloves is the surefire signal that fighting has begun. You can often punch a guy once or twice with your glove on and get away with a 2-minute roughing call. But once the gloves are off, you're going to sit for at least 5 minutes so you might as well hurt the guy. Once the fight starts, all the other players who don't get involved in fights of their own must skate over to the bench and get out of the way. The linesmen then circle around and let the fighters go at it for a while until one starts to get the best of it or one goes down. Then the linesmen go in and break up the fight, and the fighters skate over to their respective penalty boxes. In this sort of fight, both players are assessed offsetting major penalties, both teams continue to skate at full strength, the crowd and the players get fired up, and all is well.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW learn the basics of hockey?