Ranking Hockey Fighters

Hockey-fight enthusiasts talk a lot about who they think the best fighters are, so I decided to take a look at the data. Using more than 7,000 crowdsourced win-loss-draw records from HockeyFights.com -- thanks to David Singer, the website operator, for letting me -- I ranked over 1,400 fighters.

Some notes of interest:

  • A home-ice advantage appears. The home fighter wins 41% of his fights, loses 35%, and draws 24%.
  • HockeyFights.com only reports the results when ten people have voted. Lots of people vote almost as soon as a fight happens, but they don't go into the archives and vote on old fights. This means we don't have much data for fighters from past generations. Chris "Knuckles" Nilan, for example, fought 254 times, but we only have data for 6 of those fights.
  • What I did is similar to ranking football teams. The algorithm I used, penalized ordinal logistic regression, bumps a fighter up more for beating a quality opponent and less for beating a poor opponent. Marian Hossa is highly ranked even though he's only been in three rated fights because he won all three and one win was against John Erskine, a highly rated opponent.

You can download the results here.

Hockey Teams that Fight More Lose More

Don Cherry often says teams that fight more win more (for example, here). I decided to take a longer look at the data. Since 1967-1968, when the NHL expanded, there have only been ten seasons in which the correlation between points and fights is positive. You can download the graphs here.