The sport is played on a hockey rink. During normal play, there are six players, five positional players and one goaltender, per team on the ice at any time, each of whom is on ice skates. The objective of the game is to score goals by shooting a hard vulcanizedrubber disc, the puck, into the opponent's goal net, with the goal nets placed at opposite ends of the rink. The players may control the puck using a long stick with a blade that is commonly curved at one end. Players may also generally redirect the puck with any part of their bodies, but the kicking of the puck into the goal is prohibited.
Fighting in ice hockey is an established aspect of the sport with a long history involving many levels of amateur and professional play and including some notable individual fights. Although a target of criticism, it is a considerable draw for the sport and is for many fans the primary reason to attend games. Fighting is usually the role of one or more enforcers on a given hockey team and is governed by a complex system of unwritten rules that players, coaches, officials, and the media refer to as "the code". Some fights are spontaneous and others are premeditated by the participants. While officials tolerate fighting during hockey games, they impose a variety of penalties on players who engage in fights. Broadly speaking, fighting exists in organized ice hockey to protect star players, who are generally discouraged by their coaches from fighting because of fear of injury, to deter opposing players from overly rough play, and to create a sense of solidarity among teammates. (more...)
Mario Lemieux was a professional ice hockey player who played 17 seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins, from 1984 to 2005. He became the principal owner of the Penguins in 1999, after buying the team out of bankruptcy.