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. 

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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! 

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  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    I was an Oiler fan and Dave Brown gave me nightmares.


    The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames are facing each other for the second half of a home-and-home. The Flames’ Stu Grimson took on the Oilers’ Dave Brown twice in the first game and decides to go again with Brown but fares much worse than the previous two fights. Right after a faceoff they meet up and drop the gloves. After they latch onto each other Brown rifles off a series of eight left hands, landing six as Grimson just holds on. Grimson grabs at Brown’s helmet but Brown ducks away from the attempt and then grabs Grimson’s arm. Brown moves it away and then starts throwing again. Grimson loses his grip of Brown and gets it back but then just puts his head down and clutches onto Brown. In the meantime Brown fires another eight left hands and lands six again. Grimson then counters with a left hand but it’s wide as Brown lands one last left hand as Grimson gets bent over Brown’s arms. Brown then wrestles Grimson to the ice and the linesmen come in to break it up. Brown just gets up and stares at the Calgary bench before going off. Grimson left the ice with a broken orbital bone and a cheekbone and required surgery to heal properly. Even still, Grimson didn’t give up on the fight and stayed in it till it was over. However it was a very one-sided fight and the damage down by Brown makes it an obvious victory for him.

    • McPucker

      I remember the first game Brown had been cut and Grimson, a rookie, was bragging about that. Brown said that some stitches got opened up. Everyone was ready for the next game.

      There is a whole chapter about this in the Battle of Alberta book. Brown had his left sleeve taken in, jersey sewn to the shoulder pads, and had his jersey lubed up.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Could be Mark Messier. The crap that guy got away with was unbelievable yet very few ever took him to task for his indiscretions and infractions. This guy was a hell of a fighter with the Saints and in his one season in the WHA. There is a reason guys seldom dropped the gloves with him in spite of the crap Messier routinely dished out.

    Only guy Messier was ever really scared of was Scotty Stevens after Scotty laid him out with a clean open ice check and then stood over #11 and taunted him. Stevens was an animal when he fought. Messier was smart to stay away from that guy.

    One of the best smaller heavyweights was Frank “Boom Boom” Beaton. I remember when Gordie Howe tried to fight him and Beaton just subdued the old man refusing to pop him saying that hitting Howe would be like hitting his dad. When Beaton did fight he was a monster. His fights with Kim Clackson and Bad News Biladeau are legendary. The rumour still persists that the night Beaton and Billy Goldthorpe squared off was the night the joke about going to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out had its origins.

    Larry Robinson was like Messier in that his reputation as a great fighter meant that he seldom had to drop the gloves after his first couple of season in the show. If you have any doubts about Robinson as a puncher, take a look at his fights with Hammer Schultz and Terry O’ Reilly. He absolutely destroyed both of them. No fooling around. He stepped in and threw fists at them like he was starting an old lawnmower. Interestingly, Robinson said in an interview when praised for his fighting prowess said that his brother Moe was a lot better scrapper and that he could never beat Moe. Moe’s career with the Habs was short and undistinguished.

  • fasteddy

    It’s difficult not to be a homer due to the elite toughness the Oil have had in days gone by….having said that the era of Tocchet, Clark, Corson, etc, etc, was very exciting. Guys that could play and scrap, and did so often.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Best jr. brawler had to be Barry Beck, his bouts with Rocky Maze were epic in the old Gardens. A true ruffian. In the WHA, Gord Gallant and Pierre Roy. In the NHL, before monsters played, John Wensink or Tiger Williams. Modern NHL, Dave Brown. Arms down to his knees like an orangutan.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Honorable mention to Tim Horton who won every fight without punching. He would just squeeze the life out of guys. Had to be the strongest man to ever play.

  • Friendly Neighbourhood Canucks fan

    I know I’ll get trashed for picking a Canucks guy but considering we’ve already mentioned the top dogs like Brown and Probert, I had to pick an unsung player. Highly underrated pound for pound little guy fighter is Rick Rypien. Demolished bigger guys like Stortini and Prust. His quick punches and blocks were technically sound. A great fighter if you just analyze it. RIP

  • T Ambrosini

    Some memorable brawlers, tough guys, etc being mentioned. I’ll add Basil McRae, Kelly Chase and Terry O’Reilly to the pot.

    Someone already mentioned Jon Mirasty. This tilt against Jeremy Jablonski is pretty energetic…