Niklas Kronwall is one of the hardest hitting players in the NHL, something that Charlie Coyle learned firsthand on Wednesday. Terms such as "Kronwalled" and "Kronwallian" are commonly used by Detroit Red Wings fans and others around the NHL to describe ferocious open-ice body checks.
Standing 6'0" and weighing just 190 pounds, Kronwall certainly isn't one of the NHL’s biggest blueliners, yet he delivers bone-crushing hits that, for the most part, are clean.
He is a prime example of why hockey players at all levels need to keep their heads up and be aware of where they are on the ice.
With that said, here are Kronwall's top 10 hits thus far as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
The hit that inspired this list occurred on Wednesday night in Detroit in a game that the Red Wings lost, 4-2, to the Minnesota Wild.
Coyle is caught with his head down but does appear to realize that the hit is coming at the last moment. As Coyle veers slightly left, Kronwall catches him high with his stick raised, which results in a four-minute double-minor for high-sticking.
The Wild would score on the power play to go up 2-0.
Danny Briere is a brilliant skater, which often helps him avoid hits and create scoring chances.
However, at 5'10" and 179 pounds, Briere has taken a couple of big hits, most notably this one from Kronwall.
Kronwall throws his back into Briere and momentarily ends up on top of him. It’s a solid hit, although the most important factor in making it happen was the pass by Brayden Schenn.
Sure, Briere should have his head up, but Schenn sets him up for disaster by making that pass.
Sweden vs. Finland. It’s an intense international hockey rivalry that doesn’t garner much attention on this side of the world.
Here, we see Kronwall, one of Sweden’s best defensemen, level Selanne, one of the greatest Finnish hockey players of all time.
Note that unlike most of his hits, Kronwall gets a slow start here after playing the puck.
Clowe is familiar with Kronwall’s physical abilities at this point, as he’s been a victim of a couple of punishing hits.
The moment that Clowe reaches for the puck, Kronwall has him in his sights. This is one of the few hits on this list which occurs in the Red Wings’ zone.
It was also Kronwall’s second impressive hit from the Detroit’s 2011 Western Conference semifinal series with the San Jose Sharks.
This video shows two Kronwall hits on Miettinen, both of which occurred in the Red Wings' 2008 Western Conference Finals series with the Dallas Stars.
The first hit completely separates player from puck, forcing a turnover in the Stars' zone. The second hit does the same and takes Miettinen out of an offensive play.
It's these powerful, clean hits that can have a significant impact over the course of a best-of-seven series.
Kesler has been known to take a dive from time to time in order to draw a penalty.
He certainly didn’t embellish on this play.
Kesler is caught skating with his head down in Kronwall’s favorite part of the ice. What makes this hit unique is the fact that the Red Wings got a power play, as Kesler was actually the one called for roughing.
As is often the case after a big hit, opposing players feel the need to fight the player, even if the hit was clean. Kesler touches on this point in a media scrum, which can be found here.
Hemsky looked down along the boards for the puck for just a second and paid the price. However, give him credit, he gets up almost immediately and skates off to the bench, albeit without his helmet.
Kronwall dishes out a very hard hit but is able to stay completely upright in the process. There was no penalty on the play, as it was, of course, a clean hit. In fact, the Red Wings managed to get a four-minute power play, as Corey Potter received a double-minor for roughing.
It’s another hit from the Red Wings’ 2008 playoff run. This one occurred on the biggest stage, however: Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Pittsburgh is on the power play, which means that Detroit’s defensemen are in their own end as the Penguins head up ice right?
Kronwall makes his way inside the Penguins’ blue line and delivers a truly devastating hit, as it breaks Malone’s nose.
This is a perfect example of a play that can help set the tone or give a team a jolt in a playoff series.
In the first round of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kronwall gets some air, as he runs over Bonk and ends up landing on his back. Rarely since has Kronwall delivered a hit where he leaps that much or loses control of himself.
You can see another example later in the video, as Kronwall delivers a similar check to Rich Peverley in Game 1 of the series.
He’s clearly improved his balance and mastered his hitting technique in the time since.
Fans of the Ottawa Senators may enjoy seeing this hit just as much as Red Wings fans.
In Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal in 2011, Kronwall crushed Heatley with a hit directly to his chest. Heatley would remain on the ice momentarily before making his way to the San Jose Sharks' dressing room.
He did return to the game, which the Sharks went on to win in overtime. And while the Red Wings did storm back to force a seventh game, it was Heatley and the Sharks who moved on.
This is one of Kronwall’s most recent collisions, and it’s scary.
Voracek is demolished and is clearly in serious discomfort after his head and back hit the ice violently. It’s a high, hard hit, but it's clean, as no penalty is called on the play.
Kronwall maintains his focus on the game, immediately playing the puck into the corner. As the play goes on, Brayden Schenn can be seen closely shadowing Kronwall but never actually engaging him physically.
However, Zac Rinaldo would take an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving the Red Wings a power play.
This one may never be topped.
In Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals, Martin Havlat was knocked out cold by a ferocious hit from Kronwall.
No penalties were immediately called, but eventually, Kronwall was given five minutes for interference and a game misconduct. Havlat, meanwhile, finally made his way to the dressing room a few minutes later.
The Red Wings lost the game in overtime but ultimately won the series, four games to one. And while Detroit failed to hoist the Stanley Cup, Red Wings fans will likely remember this hit for a very long time.