There will be plenty of NHL players getting itchy skating feet this season, but there will also be any number of team enforcers who’ll be suffering from twitchy knuckle syndrome, picking fights with themselves in mirrors, trying to maintain their edge during this extended off season period. With this in mind, it makes sense to hark back to yesteryear, to when it was always a sure bet that hockey’s goliaths would throw their gloves to the ice, remove their helmets and throw knuckle sandwiches like they were going out of fashion. Here are five of the best, many involving Canadian bad boys.
Caption: It wasn’t just the sticks that needed taping up after these historic brawls
Georges Laraque vs. Donald Brashear – October 20th, 2007
Laraque was something of an NHL enigma, perhaps best described by the hook line of his autobiography, “The Story of the NHL’s Unlikeliest Tough Guy”. A dominating presence on the ice, this 6ft 3 right wing played for the Oilers, Coyotes, Penguins and, of course, the Canadiens. Away from the ice he was an animal activist and vegan with close ties to the Canadian Green Party, however any opposition player taking that as a sign of weakness would soon get a nasty shock, just as Donald Brashear did in 2007 when the two squared up and began trading the sort of blows that put boxers to shame. In the end both men gave as good as they got, but Laraque certainly left his mark.
Caption: Sometimes there’s just no way of dodging fisticuffs on the ice
Ottawa Senators vs. Philadelphia Flyers – March 5th, 2004
Many hockey fans regularly bemoan the lack of bench clearing mauls that take place in the modern game. One for the ages pitted the Senators against the Flyers, with the aforementioned Brashear at it again, his initial brawl with Rob Ray sparking one of the spiciest full-scale fights ever to take place on a rink. The reason this one got quite so out of control was due to an altercation during a previous meeting of the two sides in which a stick was thrown at the head of Mark Recchi by Ottawa’s Martin Havlat. Revenge was meted out in brutal fashion as fans lapped it up, especially when the goalies got involved.
Marty McSorley vs. Bob Probert – February 4 th , 1994
If you only check out one of the tussles on this list then make sure it’s this one, because it featured two prime Canadian beefcakes hellbent on making the other see things his way. It’s usually a pretty sure bet to see any scrap in the NHL broken up by the referees after thirty seconds or so, as stamina wanes and hands begin to ache, but that wasn’t the case with these two, who defied all the odds to keep throwing for over two minutes. It is such unpredictability that often leaves fans and gamblers alike relying on online NHL odds as backup in order to cover themselves when the action goes as haywire as it did in this 1994 dustup for the ages. Afterall, sometimes it pays to take cover when players start winging them in.
Aaron Downey vs. Jesse Boulerice – March 18th, 2006
Sometimes one punch is all you need. That was the case when Downey and Boulerice put them up in 2006, with the Dallas Stars man waiting for his counterpart to swing first and miss before unleashing a chin snapping counter that put the Hurricanes man out for the count. Downey then nonchalantly sauntered from the ice, his teammates slapping him on the back as the crowd howled. Who knows when another shot quite as precise as this will be witnessed again, as NHL fans are made to wait on the league’s resumption.