The 10 Craziest Fights in NHL History
Love it or hate it, fighting has always been a part of the NHL and goes back even further than the league's founding in 1917.
With that in mind, here is a look at the 10 craziest fights in NHL history.
Keep in mind the parameters for a bout to make this list:
- The fight has to have something out of the ordinary in it. Just a really good fight between two heavyweights can be the best fight ever, but to be the craziest, it's good to have something a little unusual or different to it.
- It had to take place during an NHL regular-season or postseason game. Sure, exhibition games have had some wild fights while players are trying to win jobs and prove themselves, but if it doesn't count, we're not putting it on this list.
- We need to have video of the incident or at least some clear photos to show how crazy the fight was.
Let's have some fun with this list. Feel free to suggest any bouts you think should make this list and, if possible, include a link to video of your fight so we can all enjoy it.
10. Feb. 9, 1992: Domi vs. Probert
Bob Probert and Tie Domi were two of the toughest and most feared fighters of the early 1990s.
They had two huge bouts in 1992, and the second one was more anticipated than a heavyweight title fight or WrestleMania.
This was the first bout between the combatants, and Domi celebrated what he felt was a victory by showing off his imaginary championship belt to the crowd.
Probert fared better in the rematch, but these two bouts, taken together, were an event in and around hockey circles.
9. Nov. 26, 1980: Wensink Challenges North Stars Bench
Boston's John Wensink was one tough customer back in the late 1970s and early '80s.
How tough was Wensink? After this savage fight between several Boston Bruins and Minnesota North Stars players, Wensink skated over to the North Stars bench and challenged all of them to come off and fight him. Nobody budged.
Even the early bouts featuring Terry O'Reilly and Wensink for the Bruins were fierce. Wensink hit his opponent while he was down and pinned by the referee. The things we see in this fight would result in a long suspension by Brendan Shanahan today.
8. April 4, 1998: Salo vs. Cloutier
The New York Rangers and Islanders have one of the most intense rivalries in the NHL today, and this famous goalie brawl was a big part of it.
This one started out as a line brawl, but both goalies got involved quickly. Rangers netminder Dan Cloutier challenged Tommy Salo of the Islanders and really lost his temper, pounding the helpless Islanders goalie before again challenging the entire Islanders bench. Again, there were no takers.
Add some other great heavyweights to this bout, like Darren Langdon and Zdeno Chara, and you have one crazy and entertaining bout.
7. March 5, 2004: Flyers vs. Senators, Featuring Rob Ray vs. Donald Brashear
Like Domi and Probert, Donald Brashear and Rob Ray were among the heavyweights of their generation.
These two were the centerpiece of a huge line brawl between the Ottawa Senators and the Philadelphia Flyers on March 5, 2004, that featured 20 player ejections and more than 400 penalty minutes total between the two clubs.
This clip includes several line brawls from this game, including one that involved both goalies. By the end of this game, it was clear these two teams didn't like each other.
6. April 1, 1998: Red Wings vs. Avalanche, Roy vs. Osgood
In the late 1990s, few rivalries were as intense as the one between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings. These were two of the best teams in the sport, and they met in the playoffs five times in the seven seasons between 1996 and 2002.
On April 1, 1998, the two teams got involved in a donnybrook that resulted in 228 penalty minutes after a lengthy line brawl.
The highlight by far was seeing goalie Patrick Roy and Chris Osgood trading blows at center ice. Osgood lost his jersey, and Roy raised his arms in triumph heading off the ice.
The Red Wings ended up with a 2-0 victory, but nobody who saw this fight would forget it.
5. April 20, 1984: The Good Friday Massacre, Canadiens vs. Nordiques
"The Battle of Quebec" was one of the most intense rivalries in the league in the 1980s and 1990s before the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver.
The most intense moment of the rivalry became known as "The Good Friday Massacre." Both benches emptied during this one, and by the time it was over, Bruce Hood had handed out 252 penalty minutes and ejected 10 players.
Future Hall of Famer Peter Stastny suffered a broken nose, and Jean Hamel was knocked out cold during this brawl.
And by the way, yes, this took place during a playoff game. The referees ended the second period early as a result of the biggest fight of this game and extended the third period.
By the way, the Montreal Canadiens won the game 5-3 and ended up winning the series in six games.
4. April 9, 1981: Kings vs. Rangers, Benches-Clearing Brawl Spills into the Stands
This was one chippy hockey game from the start. It was Game 2 of the opening-round playoff series between the Los Angeles Kings and the Rangers from the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, and both teams came out hitting both before and after the whistle.
By the end of the first period, tempers on both sides were boiling over. Players started pushing and shoving as both sides were heading toward their locker rooms, and soon the full rosters of both teams were going at it.
Some of the moves in this brawl resembled professional wrestling, and the Forum organist added to the circus atmosphere by playing "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" in the midst of the proceedings.
It got so out of hand that at one point during this lengthy brawl, Rangers enforcer Nick Fotiu grabbed the Kings' third-string goalie and started punching him repeatedly. The only catch: Neither player was dressed for the game, and they battled in the first row of the stands.
Order was finally restored, and the teams managed to finish the game, which the Kings hung on to win 5-4.
3. Nov. 20, 1986: Bruins vs. Canadiens, the Brawl in the Hallway
The Canadiens and Bruins have always been rivals, and this fight was as crazy as any in recent memory.
As he was being escorted off the ice after being ejected from the game, Canadiens enforcer Chris Nilan took a swing at Boston's Ken Linseman, who was on the Bruins bench. The result was a brawl that wasn't confined to the ice. Players from both teams were fighting in the hallway that led from the Bruins bench to the dressing rooms.
In the end, Nilan earned himself a three-game suspension for his actions, as did Ryan Walter, and Claude Lemieux was suspended for one game.
There were plenty of fisticuffs preset in this game and none of them all that typical.
The Habs ended up skating off with a costly 3-1 victory.
2. April 8, 1971: Rangers vs. Maple Leafs
This brawl had it all, including several Hall of Fame players taking part, like Rod Gilbert, Brad Park, Bernie Parent, Eddie Giacomin, Darryl Sittler, Jacques Plante, Dave Keon and Norm Ullman.
There were brawls throughout Game 2 of this opening-round playoff series, but at this point, all heck broke loose and both benches emptied. Both starting goalies also got involved, with Giacomin and Parent taking off their masks and pads and dropping the gloves. You just don't see brawls like this anymore, especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The kicker to this fight came when Bernie Parent's mask was taken by Vic Hadfield, who hurled it into the crowd. Once there, it was passed up to the blue seats at the top of Madison Square Garden, and despite an announcement made over the PA and searches by police, it could not be located.
Parent didn't have a backup mask and refused to play without one, so he was replaced by Plante after this brawl was over.
By the way, the mask was finally recovered—41 years after the fight—in 2012.
1. Dec. 23, 1979: Bruins Head into the Stands at MSG
The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers played a close hockey game to a frantic finish.
The Bruins led 4-3 when New York's Phil Esposito had a last-second breakaway chance against his former team. Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers stacked his pads and made the save, which allowed Boston to hold on for the win.
The teams milled about and shoved one another a bit after the final whistle when things got out of hand. Boston's Al Secord slugged New York's Ulf Nilsson, and things started to escalate.
A Rangers fan took his program, rolled it up and hit Boston's Stan Jonathan near the eye. He also grabbed the player's stick and took it from him.
Boston's Terry O'Reilly led a charge of Bruins players into the stands to attack the fan.
In the end, the Bruins players tackled the fan, and defenseman Mike Milbury took off his shoe and beat him with it several times.
Believe it or not, it took a month for NHL President John Ziegler to hand out suspensions. O'Reilly had to sit for eight games while Peter McNab and Mike Milbury had to sit out six games each. It's hard to imagine what the league would do if something like this happened today.
In the end, it was the craziest and strangest fight in NHL history.