The best hockey fighters of all time include Bob Probert, Rick Rypien, Tiger Williams and plenty of others. Some of these players were tough and always willing to fight and defend their team, some were strong, and others had incredible technique.
I have watched hundreds of hockey games in my life, and while I appreciate the skill involved, there is no doubt that fights can be entertaining and turn the tides of a game. Fighting has been a part of hockey for well over 100 years, and lets players settle their differences on the ice.
But of the thousands of hockey players that have dropped the mitts throughout history, which are the best? Keep reading to find out my picks for the best hockey fighters of all time, in no particular order.
- My picks for the best fighters include Bob Probert, Rick Rypien, Tiger Williams, Dave Schultz, Georges Laraque, Rob Ray, and Tie Domi.
- Some fighters were good because of their toughness and willingness to fight anyone, some were good because of their size and strength, while others were good because of their fighting skill.
- Fighting has been a part of hockey for over a century, and is often used to hold players accountable, provide a spark in a game, or intimidate opposing teams.
1. Bob Probert
If you ask people who the best fighter in hockey history was, many will say Bob Probert. At 6’3 and 240 lbs, he was an imposing figure and wasn’t afraid to show off his strength. Probert saw his role on the ice as a protector, and would be quick to jump to the aid of teammates.
He had hundreds of fights in his NHL career, and was on the winning end a lot more than the losing. Probert fought the toughest players on the ice throughout his career, and no one has the track record he does in that department.
During his career, he also racked up a total of 3,300 penalty minutes, which is good for 5th most all-time. He played in the NHL from 1985 to 2002.
2. Rick Rypien
Some may be surprised to see Rypien on this list, but I believe his toughness, size, and skills warrants his inclusion. Despite only being 5’11 and well under 200 lbs, he never shied away from a challenge.
He routinely fought men that outweighed him by 50+ pounds and he was almost always at a height disadvantage when fighting. What is more impressive is that he won plenty of fights, and hung in there with some people he shouldn’t have stood a chance against.
But Rypien wasn’t just tough and willing to fight. His father was a Canadian boxing champion, and Rypien learned a thing or two. He used his free hand to block unlike many other fighters, and used punches to the body frequently. Rypien played in the NHL from 2005 to 2011.
3. Tiger Williams
No player had more penalty minutes in their NHL careers than Dave “Tiger” Williams. In only 962 games played, he amassed 3,971 penalty minutes, more than 400 more than second place. A good chunk of those penalty minutes came from fights.
Tiger Williams wasn’t the tallest or strongest, but never backed down to anyone. He was tenacious on the ice and was not afraid to tussle with people much larger and stronger than himself.
In addition to his fighting prowess, Williams was also a talented goalscorer. He scored 241 goals throughout his career, and had a career high of 35 goals in 1980-81. Williams had a career in the NHL that lasted from 1974 to 1988.
4. Dave Schultz
A member of the famous Broad Street Bullies Philadelphia Flyers teams of the 1970s, Schultz has certainly earned his spot on this list. In fact, his aggressive play style and reputation as an enforcer earned him the nickname of “The Hammer”.
Schultz fought so much that he began to use boxing wraps to protect his hands before games, as he knew there was a good chance he’d get in a fight. He was as tough as nails, and his grit helped his team win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.
Schultz holds the record for the most penalty minutes in a single season, when he sat in the box for 472 minutes in the 1974-75 season. His NHL career lasted from 1969 to 1980.
5. Georges Laraque
Georges Laraque stood a towering 6’4 and weighed nearly 250 lbs, and was one of the most feared fighters of the 2000s. He was incredibly strong, and never backed down from a challenge, though there were few who dared challenge him at times.
He was a fan favorite on many teams for his enforcing and his willingness to stand up for his team and provide a spark when they needed it.
Despite his toughness and fighting prowess, he was a respectful fighter who frequently wished his opponents well before fighting them and is known as an incredibly nice and polite man off of the ice. His career lasted from 1996 to 2010.
6. Rob Ray
Throughout the 1990s, Rob Ray was one of the biggest agitators in the NHL. He had hundreds of fights during his NHL career, and wasn’t afraid to get rough with anyone, even though he wasn’t the biggest guy on the ice.
Rob Ray was known for his jersey often coming off during fights, which gave him an advantage as his opponents didn’t have anything to grab onto. In response to this, the NHL created what is known as the Rob Ray Rule, that requires players who fight to have their jerseys tied down.
Throughout his years in the NHL, he had 3207 penalty minutes, which is currently the 6th most of all time. He had a long career in the NHL that spanned from 1989 to 2004.
7. Tie Domi
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Tie Domi. No one fought more than him in the NHL and he is the third most penalized player in history with 3515 penalty minutes. Similar to Rypien, Domi wasn’t the most physically imposing fighter at only 5’8, but boy was he tough.
He frequently went up against bigger men, but always held his own and impressed fans with his toughness and willingness to scrap. He had several fights against fighters on this list, including rivalries with Rob Ray and Bob Probert in particular. His NHL career lasted from 1989 to 2006.
Here are a few interesting questions commonly asked about fighting in hockey, along with their answers.
Who has the most fights in NHL history?
The player with the most fights of all time is Tie Domi, with over 330 in his career.
How long has fighting been a part of hockey?
It is believed that fighting in hockey dates back to the late 19th century, when hockey was created and became popular. While the exact instance of the first fight in hockey isn’t well documented, it is believed to be well over 100 years ago.
Fighting has long been a part of hockey and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and these players were the best of the best. Whether they were defending a teammate, trying to build momentum or intimidating opponents, they were never afraid to drop the gloves.
Who are some fighters that you think were worthy of a spot on this list that weren’t included? Let me know in a comment below.About Kale