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! 

  • 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.

  • TrueBlue

    #1 with a bullet is Bob Probert. He was fear itself and could still play the game.

    Ron Hextall didn’t fight as much as your typical enforcer, but when he did he was all-in. Really fun to watch him blow his top.

    Also, I think Link Gaetz has to be included based purely on the fact that he was a fearless, borderline psychotic freaking maniac who kept playing after a car accident effectively ended his NHL career. He kept playing for over a decade in the beeriest of beer leagues because he liked to brawl. He’s a real life Hanson brother, and not the “Doo Wap” kind.

    If you’re not familiar with Link, this is a must-read:

    • arjay

      three great choices but if Jonathan where is John Ferguson—the undisputed 1960’s heavyweight champ?

      Many of his fights were legendary and, in particular, he had a running beat-down schedule on Chicago tough guy Eric Nesterenko.

  • Keg on Legs

    Larry Robinson only fought a few times and didn’t have to fight after that. Stan Jonathon was tough too. Saw Wendle Clark and John Kordic go at it in Saskatoon, when they were in Jr still, best fight I’ve ever seen, no defense, just bombs. Dave Brown was also a fave

  • Bryan in SK

    Jeff Odgers. Down to earth prairie boy who had no business making it to the NHL. Ended up a captain. Destroyed the knuckles of other fighters with his own nose.

    Saw him at an Oilers game autographing an Oilers jersey for a little boy. Didn’t matter that he played for Atlanta at the time. Never forgot where he was from, or became too big to make time for the kids.

  • everton fc

    Dave Schultz said the only guy he feared was Nick Fotiu. Nicky Fotiu scared the Hammer. Give this some thought…

    Here’s Nick vs. Behn Wilson. Classic Fotiu – not mentioned by anyone. Amazing. Probably why he never racked up the penalty minutes of some in his era – no one wanted anything to do with him.

    One thing about guys like Probert, McSorely(also not mentioned) and others – they never tied down their jerseys, which gave them an unfair advantage. Probert, in particular, took advantage of this, which taints him in my mind. I think

    Another decent scrapper – though not Top Ten, he’s still one of my faves – Darren Langdon. And Tochett was a willing foe who did well against everyone.

    Finally, one of my all-time favourite players – not big, not the best fighter, but willing to scrap w/anyone…. Nevin Markwart. He was awesome to watch. Played the game the way it was meant to be played, even though he was small.

    And Gary Howatt was another small guy who was unafraid of anyone.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    I don’t know who the other eight are, but Probert and Brown could have divided them into two teams of four and had a tournament just for funzies.

    If they did an MRI of Grimson’s face, it would look like a mold for a sculpture of Dave Brown’s left fist.

  • #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.

  • 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.

  • supra steve

    Brown was an absolute monster.

    I do remember some good bouts between Sandy McCarthy and all the heavyweights of his day. McCarthy, I think is under rated. Sandy lost his taste for the job, but for a short time he was among the best.

    And Domi, pound for pound, a real heavyweight.

  • 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.