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! 

    • _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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • arjay

      Fraser was a belted martial artist….and indeed was absolutely no slouch.

      I recall one game against To when he was challenged by a big Dman named Dave Farrish (sp).

      Fraser hit him so hard they carried him off the ice.

      Also the Cup run in 1982 he settled things down quickly with a beat down at centre ice on Chicago tough guy “Grant Mulvey” who left bloodied and the Nux went on to win that Series against all odds….partly b c Fraser took the physical game away from Chi,

      good choice for a hockey column…..lots of great choices.

  • LibrarianMike

    Dave Brown was an assassin. That fight when he broke Grimson’s face, as he skated off he shot this look at the Flames bench…I guarantee at least 3 Flames peed themselves.

  • wendel clarks moustache

    Tie Domi, Bob Probert, Knuckles Nilan, Wendel Clark, Dave Schultz, Joey Kocur, Tony Twist, George Laraque, And Gretzky with 2 gloves on would be my vote for the ultimate royal rumble

  • Great topic. My list depends on whether you’re talking the best enforcers — best at their job description — or most feared/toughest fighters. Some guys who aren’t as well known on that second list, but if you look them up you’ll see what I mean.

    Dave Brown
    John Ferguson
    Dave Schultz
    Gino Odjick
    Dave Semenko
    Bob Probert
    Tony Twist

    Stan Jonathan
    Link Gaetz
    Brian McGrattan
    Wendel Clark
    Jon Mirasty (minors)
    Garry Howatt
    John Kordic
    Rudy Poeschek
    Ron Delorme
    Joe Kocur
    Larry Playfair
    Jay Miller
    Craig Berube
    Steve MacIntyre

      • Georges doesn’t make the top seven in the first category and he doesn’t really fit the second group because he was completely composed at all times while fighting, except twice.

        As for guys you didn’t want to fight straight up, he was at the top the list for 5-6 years or so.

  • 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.

  • ubermiguel

    Dave Brown was something to behold. Huge reach on that guy, surprised anyone ever landed a punch on him.

    The more we learn about head injuries though, the harder it is to forget about guys like Boogaard, Rypien, Probert, and Belak. I love guys that scrap on occasion when they need to (remember Sam Gagner fighting?), but the era of the enforcer is over….and that’s probably a good thing.