Tough Stuff – A data-driven look at NHL injuries

What injuries occur most frequently in the NHL? What are the injuries that occur in the NHL compared to those of other sports? This study will reveal all.

Injuries in the NHL are common, and the injuries that result from fighting were a major topic of discussion in recent years after the Instigator Rule was introduced. What about the rest of them?

Betway, an NHL betting site, has completed a research study on NHL injuries. The findings were compared to data collected from NBA, NFL, and MLB, as well as the English Premier League, to determine which sports are the most injury-prone and how they impact the sports NHL public betting money.

Key findings

  • The NHL suffered the most injuries in 2020 (1,179).
  • NHL injury rates have dropped by 14% since 2017.
  • Since 2017, injuries in the NBA have decreased by 53%
  • Since 2017, the NFL has been the only sport that saw an increase in injury rates. The numbers have increased by 73%
  • Since 2017, only the NHL and NBA have seen injury rates decrease
  • Since 2017, the NHL injury list has grown by 148%.
  • In all sports, the most common injury to the body is the knee
  • When combining all data from sports, the lower body has a higher injury rate than the upper.

What sport has the highest injury rate?

Injuries are common in every sport, be it a minor cut, a sprained foot, or an injury that requires medical attention. Find out what sport had the highest number of injuries between 2017 and 2021.

Ice hockey

With an average of 5,300 injuries over five years, the NHL is significantly less injured than other sports. We expected higher injury numbers as the NHL is a contact sport and has one of the longest seasons in North America. Injury rates are probably a result of player fatigue, as well as increased intensity during the entire season.


According to our research, the NFL is most likely to cause injuries, as there were over 7,600 between 2017 and 2020. It’s not just the contact that occurs on each play, but also football’s history of being a violent game. In our study, football was the only sport where injury rates have increased over time.


MLB is the second-most injury-prone sport, with over 7,400 injuries in five years. It is shocking that a sport without contact trails football by just a few injuries. Injury rates may be higher due to longer seasons, increased movement, and pressure placed on arms.


The NBA takes third place as the sport with the highest injury rate, with only a little over 7,000 injuries in the period studied. NBA basketball players have to undergo a rigorous training program, which means that training begins earlier. According to some theories, the lack of recovery time at an early age may be contributing to injuries.

English Premier League

The number of soccer injuries was the lowest between 2017 and 2020, with just under 2,600. In 2018, the English Premier League experienced a surge in injuries, with numbers nearly doubling compared to 2017. Then they steadily decreased year on year.

Where are sports injuries most common?

While it is interesting to see the number of injuries in sports we love, the location where these injuries occur on our bodies can be even more fascinating.

Ice hockey

According to our research, concussions are also a common injury in NHL.


The most frequent injuries suffered by NFL players in the past five years were knee injuries, followed closely by ankle, hamstring, and other injuries.


It was no surprise to find that MLB’s shoulder and elbow injuries were most frequent.


NBA basketball players’ knees and feet are the most commonly injured parts of their bodies.

English Premier League

Most injuries occurred in the lower body – the knees ankles hamstrings groin.

Ice hockey injuries in depth

Ice hockey players are seeing a decrease of 14 percent in reported injuries in the NHL between 2017 and 2021. There are still many injuries in ice hockey every year. The most commonly injured body parts include the hands, knees, and shoulders.


Our study revealed that the total number of ice hockey injury cases decreased from year to year in 2018, before increasing in 2019. Then, in 2021, they dropped again. It’s hard to say why the increase was so large in 2020, but it could be due to illness or other health protocols that prevented players from playing.

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