Shawn Thornton is going to beat most opponents to the punch.
Fighting is not the NHL's biggest issue right now.
The lockout has trumped all the other arguments that rage throughout the NHL during the average NHL season.
While fighting is often criticized as a rather caveman-ish way to conduct business—including by this columnist—it can be a rather effective way of making one's point.
Whether you are in favor of the idea of fighting or not, there is little doubt that it is an exciting moment in a game that can turn around a team's fortunes by raising the energy level on the bench.
There are some fighters that you should avoid at all costs because it just might be too dangerous for your health.
Zdeno Chara is the biggest and strongest player in the NHL.
While he has risen far above the level of enforcer to one of the best defensemen in the league, you don't want to make Chara mad enough to drop the gloves and start throwing punches.
When the 6'9", 255-pound Chara decides to start throwing punches, he is a dangerous man capable of wreaking havoc. His huge wingspan means the punches fly with speed and leverage, and he can cut up or knock out any opponent.
Chara was voted as the toughest player in the league by 17 percent of the respondents in a Hockey Night In Canada/NHLPA poll.
George Parros is a full-fledged NHL enforcer.
He is going to make any opponent think twice before any cheap shot is delivered to any Panthers player.
Florida general manager Dale Tallon appreciates toughness and he may have decided to bring Parros into the fold after he fought Florida's Krys Barch last year.
Parros is a 6'5", 228-pound slugger who has the endurance to keep pounding away in a long fight.
Shawn Thornton helps put the big and bad in the Bruins.
While you know that you may have to contend with Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Adam McQuaid or Gregory Campbell if you step out of line against the Bruins, Thornton is the team's No. 1 police officer.
Thornton will administer justice to cheap shotters and players who go after the Bruins' skilled players.
Thornton is powerful and strong at 6'2 and 217 pounds, but he is also a skilled boxer. He trains the way a boxer trains during the offseason and he has legitimate boxing skills that will give him the edge over most of his opponents.
In addition to those skills, Thornton also has a mean streak that comes to the forefront when he is throwing punches.
Engelland is not one of the NHL's super heavyweight fighters, but he can throw them with skill and courage.
According to HockeyFights.com, Engelland had eight fights in 2011-12 and he went 5-2-1 in those battles.
Even more impressive than that was his fight with noted Toronto Maple Leaf tough guy, Colton Orr, in the 2010-11 season (above). Engelland knocked down his vaunted opponent with a straight right to the jaw.
Anyone who decides to exchange punches with Engelland is taking the chance of getting embarrassed and hurt.
Brandon Prust was the most active fighter in the league last year.
Prust fought 20 times for the New York Rangers, and the Montreal Canadiens figured that toughness was one of the ingredients they need to rise out of the Eastern Conference basement and get back into playoff contention.
The Canadiens signed the 6'2", 192-pound left wing in the offseason.
Prust is willing to engage no matter whom he has to face. HockeyFights.com had him with an 11-7-2 record in 2011-12, and one of his victories came at the expense of Ottawa's noted tough guy Zenon Konopka.
Roman Polak does not fight often.
However, when he does, he brings a mighty hammer and he produces devastating results.
However, Polak earned his spot on this list with the devastating beating (above) he handed out to Justin Braun of the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs. At the end of St. Louis's 3-0 victory over the Sharks in Game 2 of the series, and end-of-game scrum broke out.
Braun was looking for Blues to cheap shot and Polak decided some justice needed to be administered. He punished Braun with several power rights that left Braun dazed, confused and glad the game was over.