6 Best NHL Enforcers of All Time

James MaahsContributor IIINovember 23, 2012

6 Best NHL Enforcers of All Time

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    There's a special place in the game of hockey for enforcers.

    Enforcers have one job: to protect their teammates on the ice from any opponent looking to do them harm. It's a simple job, but one that demands a tough will and strong fist.

    Without them, playmakers may not be able to make the perfect pass and goal scorers may not be able to maneuver with enough space to score their goals.

    They show a side of the game that many have argued only ruins the traditional game of hockey, but many have also said that fighting will always be a part of hockey.

    Whatever the case may be, enforcers have a job that sometimes goes unnoticed; it's time to pay respect to some of the best.

    These are the top six NHL enforcers of all time.

Terry O’Reilly

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    Terry O'Reilly was one of the best fighters to ever play in the NHL.

    Spending his whole NHL career with the Boston Bruins, O'Reilly racked up over 2,000 penalty minutes in 891 total games.

    O'Reilly was also a decent player who was able to put up points with any line he was paired up on. He finished with 204 career goals and 606 points—not bad for a fighter in the NHL.

    O'Reilly is most famous for his 1979 post-game brawl, when he climbed over the glass into the crowd and went after a guy who attempted to fight him with a hockey stick.

Stu Grimson

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    Stu Grimson, also known as the "Grim Reaper" around the NHL, was one of the more feared enforcers during his playing career.

    At 6'6'', 240 lbs, Grimson was a monster compared to most others that would challenge him in a fight.

    He played for eight teams, most recently with the Nashville Predators in 2002. He amassed over 2,000 penalty minutes in his NHL career, most of those being five-minute major fighting penalties.

    During his elite fighting career, Grimson had a long-standing rivalry with Bob Probert. Both would duke it out on many an occasion, with many hockey observers saying that Probert got the better of the rivalry.

Dale Hunter

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    Before he was the head coach for the Washington Capitals, Dale Hunter was a big-time enforcer in the NHL.

    Amassing over 3,400 penalty minutes in the NHL, Hunter was a feared and respected fighter who wasn't known to back down from a fight.

    He spent the majority of his career playing with two teams, the Capitals and the Quebec Nordiques.

    Hunter also had a pretty decent NHL career from a production standpoint, putting up 323 goals and 1,020 points in 20 seasons.

Tie Domi

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    Tie Domi made it a career to fight the best of the best, and at 5'10'', 200 lbs, he wasn't half bad at making the most of the challenge.

    A dominant physical presence, Domi had over 3,500 career penalty minutes, twice accumulating 340 penalty minutes in a season.

    Domi played the majority of his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was suspended several times due to what some would call "cheap shots."

    Regardless, Domi amassed numbers that some enforcers only dream about. Playing in over 1,000 NHL games helped him shape and hone his game, which was good enough to score a few goals and add a few helpers.

Bob Probert

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    There is no question that Bob Probert was the heavyweight champion of the 1990s. 

    Playing for both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, the 6'3'', 230-lb Probert was involved in 283 NHL fights, the majority of which he won.

    Totaling over 3,000 penalty minutes in 935 NHL games, Probert also helped out on offense. His highest point total in a single season was 43 in the 1992-1993 season with the Red Wings.

    Probert will be forever remembered as one of the greatest fighters in the game, paving the way for today's generation of younger enforcers. 

Tiger Williams

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    Probably the most feared fighter to ever put on a pair of hockey skates, Tiger Williams sat in the penalty box for over 4,400 minutes, which is more than anyone else in the history of the NHL.

    At 5'11'', 200 lbs, Williams played for four NHL teams during his 18-year NHL career.

    Williams hit 300 penalty minutes in a season six times and over 250 penalty minutes 10 times, which ranks him as the best to ever suit up and play the role of an enforcer.