The N.H.L. returned over the weekend to sold-out arenas and record opening-day television audiences. It also returned to fighting. The first 21 games featured 12 fights, including three that took place within the first two seconds of the opening face-off.
On Monday afternoon on Long Island, Matt Martin of the Islanders threw down his gloves and fought with B. J. Crombeen of Tampa Bay. A few feet away, the Islanders’ Joe Finley fought Pierre-Cedric Labrie. Both fights took place a second after the opening draw.
On Sunday night at the Rangers’ home opener, Arron Asham fought Pittsburgh’s Tanner Glass just two seconds after the game began. They stood toe-to-toe for nearly a minute, throwing 45 punches and landing 20, according dropyourgloves.com.
None of the three fights were in retaliation for a previous collision or to protect a star player. The players involved, all frequent fighters, were inserted into the opening lineup by their coaches. Once on the ice, they simply asked each other and then dropped their gloves. And they were frank about it afterward.