As long as the sport has been around, fighting has been a big part of hockey. While the NHL has somewhat gone away form encouraging the big, all-out brawls of the olden days and teams have found greater success in the win column by sticking with more heavily skilled, finesse players, you still will occasionally see a great hockey fight now and again. Throughout the history of the league, there have been quite a few memorable moments with punches thrown. Here are the 20 craziest fights in NHL history.
20. 2013 Blackhawks vs. Blues
In Game 2 of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues clashed in a hard-fought game. With the Blackhawks leading 3-2 near the end of the third period, Chicago defensemen Brent Seabrook left his feet for a nasty hit on St. Louis player David Backes. That triggered a memorable fight between Brandon Bollig and Barret Jickman as well as an all-out scuffle on the ice just a few moments later. The Blues ended up stealing the game and a 2-0 series lead but the Blackhawks got the last laugh, winning the next four consecutive games.
19. 1998 Leafs vs. Capitals
Back in 1998, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals got into it right in front of the Caps goal. Mark Tinordi of Washington ended up getting into a heated battle with Jason Smith of the Leafs, with both players landing some pretty good jabs at each other. Neither one would go down, and eventually the refs had to split them up. Not too bad, when you consider that Tinordi did all that with a broken nose.
18. 1991 Red Wings vs. Blues
This one started with a big hit on Detroit Red Wings player Brent Fedyk given out by St. Louis Blues winger Rich Sutter. Things were starting to calm down after the initial fracas, but it got going again with a group of around eight players all in the middle of a scrum. In the end, they all wound up in a pile together on the ice that the officials had to break up.
17. 1992 Red Wings vs. Rangers
With the Detroit Red Wings ahead of the New York Rangers 2-1 in the first period of this 1992 match-up, things got a bit chippy between Bob Probert and Tie Domi. Probert’s helmet came off, but his height ended up being a massive advantage — Domi was struggling to reach on his swings. The two danced around the ice for a bit before Probert finally got Domi’s helmet off and landed a few hard hits. Shortly after, the officials broke it up and the two players went to their respective benches.
16. 1997 Red Wings vs. Blues
With the Blues ahead of the Red Wings 4-0 and the game nearly over, the two teams went at it again just a few years after the previous brawl. The whole thing started with Mike Peluso and Jamie Pushor, but then Martin Lapointe and Steve Leach went at it, as did Chris Pronger and Tomas Sandstrom and Bob Rouse and Craig Conroy. This is one of the classic all-out brawls in NHL history.
15. 1997 Red Wings vs. Avalanche
Jamie Pushor of the Red Wings got into trouble that same year, this time getting into it with Brent Severyn of the Colorado Avalanche. Eventually, Pushor dropped Severyn to the ice and the linesmen had to come in and break it up. But that wasn’t the end of things, as several players from both teams ended up fighting on the ice. This is one of the uglier brawls in recent memory, with even goalies Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon getting some shots in at each other — and Roy got some big hits in.
14. 1998 Red Wings vs. Avalanche
Not surprisingly, the bad blood lingered for a bit and the Red Wings were in yet another huge fight with the Avalanche the very next season. This one started right at the outset of the game, with things calming down eventually so that play could continue. But with Detroit leading 2-0 with around seven minutes left to play in the third period, things got heated again. Lapointe ended up dropping Colorado defenseman Aaron Miller to the ice. The main event was another goalie fight with Roy getting into it with Detroit’s Chris Osgood. This time, it was the Detroit goalie who came out on top.
13. 1993 Leafs vs. Kings
This ugly bout started with a nasty hit on Toronto Maple Leafs center Doug Gilmour by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Marty McSorley. That led Toronto captain Wendel Clark to get into it with McSorley while Gilmour struggled to get up from the ice. Clark nailed McSorley a few times, but before either of them could drop the other to the ice the linesmen got in and broke it up. By then, Gilmour was up and pushing players on the Kings’ bench while Todd Gill and Dave Taylor went at it.
12. 1991 Capitals vs. Flyers
A tough hit behind the net caused a pile of players between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers back in 1991. While the officials’ attempts to help separate the players and get everyone back on their feet, a few got in some shots on their opponents. Flyers winger Craig Berube and Washington’s Nick Kypreos were the main offenders, with even the two coaches getting into it verbally through the glass.
11. 2011 Penguins vs. Islanders
It didn’t take long in the February 2011 match-up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders for something to happen. With the Islanders leading 1-0 in the middle of the first period, Pittsburgh’s Craig Adams and New York’s Michael Haley kicked off the festivities. After that was finished, play resumed and New York put up two more goals before things got ugly yet again. It was 6-0 in the second period, and the two teams began to fight — this one was more of a war than a brawl.
10. 1996 Leafs vs. Flyers
As the game ended with the Philadelphia Flyers taking a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the two teams just couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Wendel Clark kicked it off by dropping Daniel Lacroix to the ice and getting in some punches, which that led to the two goalies (Ron Hextall and Felix Potvin) to have it at as well. It was quite the finish to what simply goes into the books as a Flyers victory.
9. 1997 Flyers vs. Canadiens
The Flyers got into it again later in 1997, this time with the Montreal Canadiens. It began with some simple shoving on the part of Lacroix, and ended up with a group of players pressed up against the glass going at it. Mark Recchi got Vaclav Prospal down onto the ice, and Brentt Myhres went at Craig Rivet. In this may-lay, there were sticks, gloves, and other equipment littered all over the ice.
8. 2004 Flyers vs. Senators
Some more fun with the Flyers, this time ahead a few years in 2004 against the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa winger Rob Ray, who was playing in what would end up being one of the very last games of his career, and Donald Brashear starting wailing on each other right in front of the Flyers’ net. Both players got some good hits in, but Ray’s helmet came off and he ended up coming away with a few cuts and some blood on his face. Other fights broke out afterwards as the crowd cheered on.
7. 2014 Flames vs. Canucks
There was some bad blood between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks back in 2014, and it didn’t take long at all for it to show when the two teams met up in January. On the faceoff, Calgary’s Kevin Westgarth grabbed Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa and the brawl was officially on. Canucks coach John Tortorella was screaming at the Calgary coaching staff as the whole thing went on, with four separate fights happening all before any portion of the game really had actually begun.
6. 1980 Bruins vs. Islanders
As the period came to an end, the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders got into yet another brawl — this time with both benches emptying. It was impossible for the cameras and commentators to keep track of all the action back in 1980 with so many players on the ice, but the main battle seemed to be between Mike Milbury and Duane Sutter. In all honesty, there were several individual fights in this one and only the video can do it justice.
5. 2006 Hurricanes vs. Stars
With no score in the game and just minutes into the first period, the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars went at each other in 2006. Aaron Downey of the Stars took on Jesse Boulerice of the Hurricanes, and this one was over quick. Boulerice tried to jab a few times, but the first punch from Downey knocked the winger to the ice. The officials separated the two and the game resumed shortly after everyone was settled down.
4. 1978 Bruins vs. Canadiens
Another late-70s classic from the Boston Bruins, who have had quite a few great battles in their franchise history. This one involved the Montreal Canadiens, with several players getting into individual fights. But the big battle was Bobby Schmautz of the Bruins going toe-to-toe with Mario Trembley of the Canadiens. Trembley got Schmautz with a right hook, sending him to the ice and eliciting cheers from the crowd as the two were pulled apart. This rivalry didn’t end any time soon, as the two teams played in the Stanley Cup Finals that year.
3. 1987 Bruins vs. Canadiens
In 1987, the Bruins and Canadiens were battling yet again. This time it was John Kordic and Jay Miller going at each other on the ice, and it wasn’t the first time these two had gone at each other either. Kordic got some great hits in on Miller, who skated by the Canadiens’ bench afterward to flip them a certain finger. It was just another great chapter in this historic rivalry.
2. 2002 Bruins vs. Capitals
Another great one-on-one battle in NHL history belongs to the Bruins franchise. This came in 2002, with Boston taking on the Washington Capitals. In the second period with Boston ahead 6-3, Stephen Peat of the Capitals and P.J. Stock of the Bruins started throwing fists. It was a furious battle, with Stock losing his helmet but nonetheless holding his own. As the fight was broken up, Stock skated off while raising his hand to acknowledge the fans, who loved every minute of it.
1. 1979 Bruins vs. Rangers
When discussing hockey brawls, this one has to come up number one on every list. In 1979, the Bruins (yes, the Bruins again) took on the New York Rangers in yet another classic brawl. Boston players Gerry Cheevers and Mike Milbury were right in the thick of things, with several players getting into the stands and even fighting with Rangers fans. It was a huge mess for the NHL, with a few of the Bruins’ players getting suspended after the whole thing was said and done. But it still makes it in as the best hockey fight in the history of the NHL.
All stats and information courtesy of hockey-reference.com.