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THE CODE  |  Originally aired February 27, 2009 on CBC-TV
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Fighting in Hockey: A Timeline

1875 – Legend has it that the first organized indoor hockey game ended in a fight between the players and a group of figure skaters who wanted to take over the ice.

1922 – The NHL introduced Rule 56 to formally regulate fighting. Players who engaged in “fisticuffs”, as it was called in the official rulebook, were given a five minute major penalty. This differed greatly from amateur and collegiate leagues, where players were ejected from the game if they fought.

1971 – The NHL created the “Third Man In” rule in an attempt to cut down on the number of bench clearing brawls. Under the rule, the first player who joins a fight already in progress is ejected from the game.

1972 – The Philadelphia Flyers evolve from being a losing expansion team into the intimidating Broad Street Bullies. The team fought its way to the Stanley Cup playoffs, winning the Cup in 1974 and 1975.

January 4, 1987 – During the final game of the 1987 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, a bench-clearing brawl broke out between Canada and the Soviet Union in Piestany, Czechoslovakia. Officials turned off the arena lights in an attempt to control the situation. Both nations were disqualified from the championship.

1992 - The NHL brings in the controversial “Instigator Rule.” Under this rule, additional penalties are given to the player who starts the fight.

March 26, 1997 – A series of fights break out between Detroit Red Wings and the Colarado Avalanche and it quickly turns in to an all-out brawl. Patches of blood on the ice were visible before the ice was resurfaced by the zamboni. The infamous brawl is now often referred to as “Bloody Wednesday.” The Red Wings went on to win the first of two consecutive Stanley Cups.

February 21, 2000 – Boston Bruins’ Marty McSorley swings his stick and hits Vancouver’s Donald Brashear in the neck. Brashear’s helmet flew off and he hit his head on the ice as he fell, rendering him unconscious. McSorley would later be charged with assault and never play in the NHL again. Brashear later recovered and currently plays for the Washington Capitals.

March 5, 2004 – Five consecutive brawls break out during the closing minutes of a Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators game. 419 penalty minutes were handed out – an NHL record.

March 8, 2004 – With Colorado leading 8-2 late in the third period, Todd Bertuzzi tries to start a fight with Vancouver’s Steve Moore. Bertuzzi grabbed Moore’s jersey and sucker punched him in the back of the head. Moore suffered three broken vertebrae and would never play in the NHL again.

December 12, 2008 – Don Sanderson, of the Whitby Dunlops, is involved in a fight with a player from the Brantford Blast. Sanderson was rushed to hospital after he hit his unprotected head on the ice. He would remain in a coma for three weeks.

January 2, 2009 – Don Sanderson passes away.

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