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NHL brawlers die younger, study finds

Researchers at Columbia University in New York analyzed statistics from 6,000 NHL players between 1969 and 2022 to determine the effect of fighting on player health. They found that NHL tough guys die 10 years younger than those who don’t fight.

The researchers compared players who fought with other players who didn’t fight, but who were drafted at the same time, were the same height and weight.

NHL brawlers are more likely to die of suicide, drug overdoses and neurodegenerative disease.

What’s most astonishing about this study is how young field hockey players die, on average. We’re not just talking about brawlers here. Fighters die on average at the age of 47.5, as opposed to 57.7 for those who don’t fight. For players punished for more than three minutes per game in their career, the average age at death is 45.2 years, compared to 55.2 years for players punished little.

It’s extremely scary. Hard-core gamblers don’t even make it past 50, and regular players barely make it past their mid-50s!

Seeing these results, Université de Montréal professor and neuropsychologist Dave Ellemberg still doesn’t understand why field hockey fans and players insist on keeping the tradition of fighting alive. He would like to see an end to fighting in sport.

I’m not against reducing the number of fights in field hockey, but I also believe in keeping the tradition alive. It’s part of the sport and it’s a spectacle that’s always attracted the crowds.

The QMJHL plans to abolish fighting, and we’ll see what happens. Abolishing fighting at junior level is fine, because the players are young and their brains are still developing. However, once they’ve turned pro, players should still be able to fight.

In gusto

– The fight between Toronto and Montreal fans could cost Toronto FC dearly.

– The Golden Knights have major goaltending problems.

– Could be a premiere night for Florida.

– It’s going to end up costing a lot more than expected.

– The guy’s confident and we like that.

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