Best Hockey Fighters

10 Greatest Hockey Fighters Of All Time

Step onto the ice and explore the legacies of the 10 best hockey fighters ever, celebrating the enforcers who left an indelible mark on the sport through their fearless commitment and unwavering dedication.

10 best hockey fighters ever:

  1. Bob Probert
  2. Joey Kocur
  3. Tie Domi
  4. Chris Nilan
  5. Dave Schultz
  6. Tiger Williams
  7. Stu Grimson
  8. Donald Brashear
  9. Marty McSorley
  10. Rob Ray

1. Bob Probert πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Bob Probert

Height: 6’3″
Weight: 225 lbs
Fights: 235
Fights Per Game: 0.25
From: Windsor, Ontario
Nemesis: Stu Grimson

Bob Probert is considered by most hockey fans to be the greatest hockey fighter of all time.

He spent the majority of his prime years fighting for the Detroit Red Wings in the 80s and early 90s.

In 935 games, he was able to rack up an insane 235 fights and 3300 penalty minutes, ranking 5th in all-time penalty minutes.

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His greatest season was with the Red Wings in 1987-1988 where he went on an absolute rampage, collecting 24 fights AND 62 points in just 74 games, ultimately earning himself a spot in the 1988 NHL All-Star Game.

He also lead the NHL in penalty minutes that year with ~400 minutes.

If that wasn’t crazy enough, in that same postseason (88′), he recorded 2 fights, 51 penalty minutes, and scored 21 points in 16 games!

Unfortunately, the Red Wings weren’t able to win the cup that year, but Bob Probert’s 87′-88′ all-star season still stands as one of the most impressive hockey seasons ever.

2. Joey Kocur πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Joey Kocur

Height: 6’0″
Weight: 220 lbs
Fights: 205
Fights Per Game: 0.25
From: Kelvington, Saskatchewan
Nemesis: Brian Curran

Right behind Bob Probert, we have his teammate – yes his freakin’ teammate – Joey Kocur.

Joey Kocur played the majority of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, playing alongside Bob Probert in the late 80s and early 90s. However, he also spent 6 seasons playing for the New York Rangers.

In his 821-game career, he put up a staggering 205 fights and 2519 penalty minutes, averaging 1 fight every 4 games.

In his 85′-86′ season, he averaged 6:24 penalty minutes per game. That’s a fighting major, and then some.

Kocur’s greatest accomplishment is likely winning 3 Stanley Cups, once with New York and twice with Detroit. He played alongside greats such as Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman, and Mark Messier.

There are many people who consider Joey Kocur to be a better fighter than Bob Probert, but it is largely a toss-up.

The two likely didn’t argue about such things as they were known to be good friends off the ice.

3. Tie Domi πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Tie Domi

Height: 5’10”
Weight: 207 lbs
Fights: 270 πŸ₯‡
Fights Per Game: 0.26
From: Windsor, Ontario
Nemesis: Rob Ray

Really, any of the top 3 fighters in this article can be considered “number 1”. Because, in the 3rd position, we have the infamous, legendary, Tie Domi.

At 5’10 and 270 career fights, Domi was the embodiment of the quote, β€œIt’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”

Notable stats:

  • #1 in all-time NHL fights.
  • #3 in all-time penalty minutes (3515 minutes).

He racked up an astronomical 270 fights in his 1020-game career (source: hockeyfights.com).

One of his most ludicrous stats was averaging ~11 penalty minutes per game in his first junior hockey season.

He was a fearless fighter, willing to take on anyone, no matter what size.

Bob Probert is known to have said that Tie Domi was the toughest fighter he ever fought.

4. Chris Nilan πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Chris Nilan

Height: 6’0″
Weight: 205 lbs
Fights: 222
Fights Per Game: 0.33 πŸ”₯
From: Boston, Massachusetts
Nemesis: Torrie Robertson

Chris (“Knuckles”) Nilan is widely regarded as the best American fighter ever to play in the NHL. His best years were spent with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1980s.

In one, three-season stretch (83’~86′), he amassed an unthinkable 85 fights, 56 goals, and a Stanley Cup, which may be one of the most impressive 3 season stretches in NHL history.

He maintained a 0.33 fights per game average throughout his lengthy 15-season career.

In other words, he averaged 1 fight every 3 games, for 15 years.

In his Stanley Cup playoff run (1986), Nilan put up 6 fights and 141 penalty minutes in just 18 games, besting Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers to win the Stanley Cup.

With 222 career fights and 3000+ penalty minutes, Nilan will likely forever-remain the greatest American fighter of all time.

5. Dave Schultz πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Dave Schultz

Height: 6’1″
Weight: 185 lbs
Fights: 130
Fights Per Game: 0.24
From: Waldheim, Saskatchewan
Nemesis: Garry Howatt

Dave Schultz was the kingpin of the scariest team in NHL history.

He was the top fighter on the notorious 1970s Philidelphia Flyers – AKA the Broad Street Bullies.

In his 535-game career, Schultz collected 130 fights and 2294 penalty minutes.

Broad Street Bullies

He won two Stanley Cups in his career, both with the Broad Street Bullies, in 74′ and 75′.

In his first Stanley Cup Season, Schultz set the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a season (1974). A record that will likely never be broken.

He racked up 472 penalty minutes in just 76 games, including 26 fights. That’s 6:12 penalty minutes per game, across an entire season.

And in that 74′ postseason, he averaged 1 fight every other game on the way to win the Stanley Cup.

He was the toughest of the toughest, a true force to be reckoned with.

6. Tiger Williams πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Tiger Williams

Height: 5’11”
Weight: 190 lbs
Fights: 229
Fights Per Game: 0.24
From: Weyburn, Saskatchewan
Nemesis: Terry O’Reilly

David Willaims was nicknamed “Tiger” as a 5-year-old by his minor hockey coach in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and the name stuck.

From then on, he was forever known as “Tiger Williams.”

He is the all-time leader for penalty minutes in the NHL.

He put up an insane ~4,000 penalty minutes in his career spanning 14 seasons. That translates to over 66 hours of his life spent in an NHL penalty box – impressive.

In terms of fighting, he ranks 6th all-time for total fights in the NHL, with 229 fights, which is virtually unheard of for a player from the 1970s.

What’s even crazier is that Williams wasn’t just a fighter. He was also an NHL all-star.

In 80′-81′, Williams put up 35 genos and 17 fights in 77 games.

When he wasn’t spending time in the penalty box, he was out destroying teams on the scoreboard.

7. Stu Grimson πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Stu Grimson

Height: 6’5″
Weight: 230 lbs
Fights: 211
Fights Per Game: 0.29
From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Nemesis: Bob Probert

Up next we have the man who was nicknamed the “Grim Reaper”, which should tell you all you need to know.

At 6’5 and 230 lbs Stu Grimson was one of biggest and baddest fighters of the 1990s.

He had five, 20+ fight seasons and collected over 2,000 penalty minutes in his 14-season career.

One of his most impressive stats may be this:

He fought the #1 guy on this list – one of the most feared fighters ever – Bob Probert, 12 times. That’s more than anyone, ever.

The Grim Reaper wasn’t afraid of anyone.

Stu Grimson ranks 10th in all-time NHL fights, with 211 fights.

8. Donald Brashear πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Donals Brashear

Height: 6’3″
Weight: 237 lbs
Fights: 212
Fights Per Game: 0.21
From: Bedford, Indiana
Nemesis: Bob Probert

Donald Brashear was born in Bedford, Indiana but moved to Quebec, Canada at the age of 8.

At 6’3, 230lbs, he was a big guy, which was very apparent in his fights, where he would often manhandle his opponents.

He was a technical fighter with high fighting IQ, strategically dismantling his opponents in fights.

With 212 career fights, Brashear ranks 8th in all-time NHL fights which is astonishing considering that he played the majority of his career in the 2000s.

As a 21-year-old, in his NHL rookie season (1993), he decided to square up against the most feared enforcer in the entire league: a prime Bob Probert – that takes cojones.

Brashear was a proud enforcer, maintaining order on the ice while protecting his teammates such as Markus Naslund and a young Alex Ovechkin.

9. Marty McSorley πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Marty McSorley

Height: 6’1″
Weight: 190 lbs
Fights: 212
Fights Per Game: 0.22
From: Hamilton, Ontario
Nemesis: Tim Hunter

Marty McSorley was a controversial player during his time, being suspended 7 times, including a final criminal conviction in 2000 following the “Donald Brashear Marty McSorley incident.”

The aim here is not to assess McSorley’s character or his past actions but to assess McSorley’s presence as a fighter in NHL history.

The man nicknamed “Wayne Gretzky’s bodyguard” was one the best fighters to ever play in the NHL.

Some of McSorley’s notable records include:

  1. Two-time Stanley Cup champion
  2. Best plus/minus in the NHL (90′-91′)
  3. Fourth in all-time penalty minutes (3381 minutes)

Individually speaking, his greatest season was 1990-91′, where he put up 9 fights, 221 penalty minutes, and 39 points in 61 games – as a defenseman.

He spent an average of ~3.5 minutes in the box each game, and was still somehow able to maintain a points per game average (PPG) of 0.65.

10. Rob Ray πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Best Hockey Fighters Of All Time - Rob Ray

Height: 6’0″
Weight: 203 lbs
Fights: 237
Fights Per Game: 0.26
From: Stirling, Ontario
Nemesis: Tie Domi

Rob Ray holds the record for most fights for a single team in the NHL, with 235 fights for the Buffalo Sabres (if you’re a Sabres fan, that should make you tear up).

He was tough as nails in the NHL, and also a certified good guy off the ice, winning the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1998.

Ray is one of only 9 players ever to break 3,000 penalty minutes. He ranks 4th in all-time NHL fights, as well as 8th in all-time penalty minutes.

Best Hockey Fighters Ever – 10 Honorable Mentions:

  1. Terry O’Reilly πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  2. Jeff Odgers πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  3. Craig Berube πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  4. Ian Laperriere πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  5. Kelly Buchberger πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  6. Garry Howatt πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  7. Tony Twist πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  8. Georges Laraque πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  9. Derek Boogaard πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  10. George Parros πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

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