Top 10 All-Time Best Fighters


Spring is here. The playoffs are in full effect, and for those of us that cheer for Canadian teams that means we have A LOT of free time at the moment. Rather than spend our time dwelling on the failures of our respective teams we figured we’d use this opportunity to remember days gone by. A time when men grew killer moustaches, smoked in-between periods and tried to murder each other with their fists. 

Fighter, enforcer, goon, tough guy; they go by many names and come in many different shapes and sizes. These men are revered for their feats of strength, willingness to stand up for teammates and their fearlessness. 

We’ve all had a favourite or two over the years. Whether it was Big Georges squaring off against the toughest the other team had to offer, then terrifying everyone in the first two rows as he jumped into the glass after scoring a goal. Or Tie Domi, the undersized heavyweight who stood toe to toe with some of the toughest of all time. 

This is where you come in Nation; our friends over at Violent Gentlemen are teaming up with our other friends at to put together a line of T-shirts that celebrate the greatest pugilists to ever step foot on the ice. You may have already seen their homage to Luke Gazdic!


And they need your help whittling down a list of many to just a select few. Let us know in the comments who your favourite fighter of all-time is, we’ll collect the names and next week we’ll leave it up to the citizens of The Nation to vote on who you’d like to see on a brand new HF x VG shirt! 

  • Oilinmyblood

    Although I’ve long been a proponent of eliminating fighting so it feels hypocritical weighing in, but for my money it’s Cam Neely. As much as I don’t like the guy (except for his Sea Bass cameos), and he seems like a jerk in Boston Management, the guy could throw down while also being a dangerous scorer (probably not hall of fame worthy… but that’s another story).

    So I think cam Neely should be in the list.

    From Edmonton… George Laraque…good mitts and a great personality.

    We should likely include Billy Smith as well as the all-time Goalie fight leader… by far.

  • Misguidedcanuck

    I’m keeping mine to Canucks I’ve seen fighting since I got into hockey, so #37 Rick Rypien RIP, Dale Weiss, The Juice, Kevin Bieksa, Derick Dorset and potential future contender Jake Virtanrn? But outside of the team and going back a bit I’m surprised to have not seen Chris ‘knuckles’ Nilan mentioned I watched that documentary the last gladiators and that guy could fight.

    • _Bubba

      Frank Beaton. Played in the old WHA. Touched by the Fist of God…
      Here’s an excpert of an article from Murray Greg of the Sun from 2007 I always liked that mentioned him.

      “The lone Top 10 contender from the World Hockey Association was nicknamed “Seldom” for good reason. And he helped transform the Birmingham Bulls from doormats to demons. Small by heavyweight standards (five-foot-10, 190 pounds), Beaton was a bonafide bomber who could pummel an opponent non-stop for a full minute, then turn around and do the same to another one … and another one. The WHA was like that.

      Beaton’s lightning-quick fists first drew acclaim in 1976 when he took just 30 games to shatter the old Southern Hockey League’s single-season penalty mark, but he became a legend on Thanksgiving Day 1977, when the Bulls hosted the Cincinnati Stingers. Just 24 seconds into the game, Beaton, along with teammates Gilles (Bad News) Bilodeau and Steve Durbano ignited an hour-long brawl that resulted in over 200 penalty minutes and left bleeding Stingers all over the ice.

      The fracas prompted a reporter for the Cincinnati Equirer to write: “It was like watching the German army invading Poland … absolute carnage everywhere you looked. And everywhere you looked, you saw Frank Beaton.”

  • Longshot1977

    Somewhere around 2007, I saw a segment on some sports channel or another where each team’s top “tough guy” was asked who they really don’t like to fight.

    Eric Godard (then of the Flames) answers with no hesitation. “Iggy. That guy fights ANGRY.”

    This is a guy who fought 199 times in the NHL. He threw down with Boogard, Domi, and Thornton. He broke Steve McIntyre’s orbital socket once. And he picks Jarome Iginla.

    Iggy’s got my vote. The dude scares goalies and goons.

  • stonedtodeath61

    Our boy in Ottawa was fun to watch for years, Chris Neil took on all comers, his scraps with Chara were funny to watch with the size difference. Loved McGratton as well. Best fight of all time was a bench clearing between NYI and Philly, Bob Nystrom and Mel Bridgman toe to toe for what seemed like ever, both bleeding badly at the end.

  • Smyl and Snepsts

    Chara, just too big and tough. Nobody can touch him. Larry Robinson pretty much ended Philadelphia reign of terror with beat downs on Schultz. Toughest Canucks ever was Harold Snepsts.

  • Misguidedcanuck

    *I see he was just listed as knuckles Nilan a post above, but still not mentioned much.
    But all said I’d still rather see a Canuck on the T than someone who never played for the team.

  • Dirty30

    I’m going with Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe. He’s a tough dude who went out and scored goals, got assists and fought — the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick”!

    Certainly not an ‘enforcer’, but interviews with guys who played against him pretty much said that the one thing you didn’t want to do is to piss him off.

    Another guy, who has a trophy named after him for scoring, is Rocket Richard — here was another player with talent who was determined to win … many players talked about the look in his eyes and his willingness to get mean to win.

    Finally, Rick Rypien … probably one of the smallest ‘tough guys’ you’d ever find, but seemingly fearless in fighting guys way outside his weight class.

  • CanoeFish

    Laraque has to be the greatest all time fighter despite not actually wanting to beat people up. Actually, that fact should make his case even stronger, he didn’t want to beat people up, but did, a lot. My other favourite was Tie Domi. Unreal courage from him.

  • Bleedblueandwhite

    Best two fighters I every saw, one made it to the NHL and the other didn’t go pass the ECHL – I saw them both in the OHL.

    One only played one season as an overager for Owen Sound was Robin Big Snake – he had the biggest hands I have ever seen. He was devastating – one punch and out. By the time he got to the OHL no one want to fight him.

    The other was Cam Janssen – played most of his career with Windsor. He was real approachable – even from players on opposing teams. He had a high motor, non-stop punching for 30-40 seconds. Off the rink he was a funny kid. Janssen played over 300 NHL career games, which is more than just a journey man.

  • Freakin' Saprykin


    But in all seriousness, I would be into a Brian McGrattan shirt. Hard to compare era to era, but he was one of the best and one of the last. Should count for something.

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    KIm Clackson !
    Who at 61, could still beat the cr@p out of anyone on this list.

    If you don’t believe me, come watch Clackson & Dave Semenko duke it out at IGF Field in October

    GOOoooo JETS !

    • McPucker

      Klackson. Yes. Him and Semenko went at it many times, but according to Rod Phillips, Klackson took a lot more than he gave.

      So that Klackson could keep coming back, I have to drop Semenko down a tad and I’d give it to Brown. He punished.

      Honourable mention to Stan Jonathon and his Pierre Bouchard fight. I think that pretty well put an end to Pierre’s career.