Explain brawling in ice hockey to me

Channel surfing and I catch a NHL game.
Two guys get in a confrontation and start brawling. Ref is standing right there allowing them to punch on.

I mean it's well known this goes on in ice hockey but why? What's the history behind it if any? Phone Post 3.0

It's how the game is policed. Sure, there are penalties, but its more of a deterrent to playing dirty if you know it means a team sending their biggest guy after you. Phone Post 3.0

It's also used as a way to spark your team. Say your down a few goals, and want to change the momentum. Fights are great for that. Phone Post 3.0

It's basically a shell of what it used to be.

Mark Phone Post 3.0

It's to distract viewers from the boring game. I know it's getting cold in hete Phone Post 3.0

Here Phone Post 3.0

Its pretty much why I dont watch hockey...worst part of the game. Playoff hockey is marginally better cause guys dont get into it as much and world championship hockey is waaaaay better on account of the lack of fighting compared to reg league play. Phone Post 3.0

Hockey is anything but a boring game. Lol. Perpetual motion, hard hits, fights, goaltending. Frozen rubber on ice. Love hockey. The players are better at keeping each other honest, than the refs when it comes to cheap shots. There is honor in hockey. The hand shake at the end of the playoff series! Fuck yeah! Let's go Rangers! Game 7 tonight against those Philly Phaggots! Phone Post 3.0

Hockey is the greatest team sport there is PERIOD. Watch any playoff game and you will be hooked or go to a hockey game even minor league. TV cannot do a live game justice.

NHL are doing their best to stop/limit it. Refs hand out 10 minute misconducts to guys who fight more than others for just talking, refs are stepping, etc. As long as guys can deal with it and fights don't just break out every other game like the old days it's fine.

HOCKEY! HOCKEY! HOCKEY! Phone Post 3.0

Mit - Its pretty much why I dont watch hockey...worst part of the game. Playoff hockey is marginally better cause guys dont get into it as much and world championship hockey is waaaaay better on account of the lack of fighting compared to reg league play. Phone Post 3.0
You should stick to women's hockey IMO, no checking. That's right up your alley. Phone Post 3.0

Rhymenoceros - I think the people who are the most against it are the people who have never played even rec league hockey.

Hockey is EXTREMELY fast when you are on the ice. Even with two linesmen and two referees (a few years ago it was only one referee) they miss all kinds of things that players do. A lot of players develop a style around agitating their opponents to distract them from their game, plenty of guys will take cheap shots when they think they can get away with it, and of course in a game of high speed collisions it's possible for a shitty player on one team to take a cheap shot on the star player of another team and take him out of a game completely.

Add to that the fact that the league basically can't / won't suspend players for dirty play, and you have a situation where the players themselves need to police the game to some degree. So fighting keeps everyone a little more honest.

It's true that fighting also can help spark a team that isn't really invested in a game. If you consider that the NHL season is just as long as the NBA season, but they hit each other harder than NFL players, then you can see how sometimes a team may not be all that pumped up for each game. A good fight can snap them out of that and add a little pep to everyone's step.

Ultimately these guys are standing on ice trying to punch each other. It's not a great recipe for throwing really powerful punches, though in rare occasions someone does get knocked out. The open ice hits are way more dangerous to the players than the fights, so I really don't see why so many people are so against the occasional dust up on the ice.
Thanks for the explanation guys. VU all around. Phone Post 3.0

I'm an Aussie but I love hockey the fights are a part of the sport and keeps the players honest and fair also the fights aren't brutal or thuggish Phone Post 3.0

Rentbrains -
Mit - Its pretty much why I dont watch hockey...worst part of the game. Playoff hockey is marginally better cause guys dont get into it as much and world championship hockey is waaaaay better on account of the lack of fighting compared to reg league play. Phone Post 3.0
You should stick to women's hockey IMO, no checking. That's right up your alley. Phone Post 3.0
You know whats right up my alley......YOUR MOM! Phone Post 3.0

Its part of the entertainment. Phone Post 3.0