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Ranking the 10 Best Fighters in the NHL

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IIJanuary 13, 2017

Ranking the 10 Best Fighters in the NHL

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    Some folks will tell you that fighting is dead in the NHL these days, but we dare you to tell these top 10 fighters that to their faces.

    If you're tired of arguing with your buddy about whether Colton Orr is a better fighter than Zenon Konopka, we've taken all the guesswork out of the equation for you.

    Here's the breakdown.

    We considered nearly 40 fighters for this list, starting with the 20 players that had the most fighting majors in 2013. Then, we looked at who those top guys lost to that hadn't made that initial top 20 and added them in for good measure.

    A fight-by-fight breakdown was undertaken, using data from the invaluable hockeyfights.com to analyze wins and losses. The members of that site can vote for whether each and every fight is a win, loss or draw for the players involved.

    Using that data, we compiled win-loss-draw records for the 2012-13 season.

    We then took those records and assigned two points for a win, zero points for a loss and .5 points for a draw.

    After all that, we ranked the players based on their final rating.

    For ties, we put the fighter with fewer losses ahead of the guy who ended up on the wrong end more often. For a secondary tiebreaker (and yes, there was one), we looked into whether or not the two combatants had fought each other in 2013.

    Whoever won more of those fights was placed higher.

    Guys who don't fight much, such as Zdeno Chara and Ryan Getzlaf, obviously ended up on the outside looking in due to their lack of bouts.

    That's OK though, since this is a list of the best fighters in the NHL, and it's hard to make an argument for a player that only drops the gloves 10 times across a five-year span.

     

    All fight statistics and data appear courtesy of Hockeyfights.com. All other statistics, such as weight and height, appear courtesy of Hockeydb.com.

Just Missed the Cut

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    Shawn Thornton (10.0 points) - Barely missing the cut, the Boston Bruins tough guy fell short of the No. 10 spot based on the tiebreaker. He'd compiled a solid 5-3 record, however, and is certainly deserving of a mention.

    B.J. Crombeen (8.5 points) - Crombeen is the most interesting combatant we came across, because he actually led the NHL in fighting majors in 2013 with 14. He only won three of those fights, however, posting a forgettable 3-6-4 record on the year. A for effort though.

    Jordin Tootoo (8.5 points) - The Detroit Red Wings brought this agitator to Motown to add some sandpaper, and that's exactly what he did. Tootoo went 4-3-1 last season and had several memorable fights against some of the toughest guys that made our Top 10.

    George Parros (8.5 points) - Typically hailed as one of the better fighters in the NHL, Parros ended up on the losing end several times in 2013. He was a solid 4-4-1, and he fought some of the larger heavyweights when he did scrap, but his low point total keeps him out of the Top 10.

    Tim Jackman (8.5 points) - Jackman's particular point total was a popular one. He was 4-3-1 in 2013 and posted some big victories over a few tough opponents. A few more fights and he could have taken a run at cracking the Top 10.

    David Clarkson (8.0 points) - Arguably the most skilled guy on this list, Clarkson is known around the NHL as a power forward who isn't afraid to bang some bodies. He's also not afraid to drop 'em when the need arises, and he'll likely end up one of the most popular Toronto Maple Leafs in recent memory because of it.

10. Chris Neil

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    Point Total: 10 Points

    2012-13 Record: 5-1

    Height: 6'1"  Weight: 215 lbs

     

    Chris Neil is never going to win any popularity contests around the NHL, but at least the guy sticks up for himself when he needs to. A former sixth-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, Neil has managed to keep his job as team enforcer for a remarkable 12 years.

    Unlike many of the fighters that were around prior to the lockout and subsequent rule changes, Neil was able to adjust and add more than just a ground-and-pound element to his game.

9. Milan Lucic

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    Point Total: 10.0

    2012-13 Record: 5-0

    Height: 6'4"  Weight: 220 lbs

     

    Arguably the best power forward in the NHL these days, Milan Lucic is a force for the Boston Bruins on a nightly basis. He doesn't fight often, but when he does he rarely comes out on the losing end.

    Going back one more season, Lucic went 6-0 during the 2011-12 campaign, making him unbeaten throughout the last two years, according to the knowledgeable voters over at hockeyfights.com.

    Yahoo! Sports also has the bruising forward down for 139 hits in 2013, making Lucic a wrecking ball regardless of the circumstance. 

8. Richard Clune

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    Point Total: 10.5

    2012-13 Record: 4-3-5

    Height: 5'10"  Weight: 207 lbs

     

    Rich Clune may have deleted his hilarious contract demands from his Twitter account, but the folks over at MSN Now were kind enough to grab a screenshot before the Tweet was taken down. When he's not making wisecracks via social media, you'll be able to find Clune out on the ice playing hockey.

    Well, he doesn't play a whole lot of hockey—he was one of the busiest fighters in 2013, going at it 12 times in the NHL and 14 times while playing in the AHL.

    Clune has broken the ridiculous 200-PIM barrier twice in the minors, and it's easy to see how.

7. Mark Fraser

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    Point Total: 12.5

    2012-13 Record: 6-2-1

    Height: 6'4"  Weight: 220 lbs

     

    Since 2005, Mark Fraser has been bouncing between the NHL and AHL, fighting to make a living for himself. It's a tough gig, but someone has to do it, and he may have finally found his professional home with the Toronto Maple Leafs—no team fought more in hockey in 2013, and Fraser put up a solid chunk of those fights.

    And that's great for him. After getting shuttled between New Jersey and Lowell for seven years, it's good to see a guy like Fraser get his due.

6. Mike Brown

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    Point Total: 13.0

    2012-13 Record: 6-4-2

    Height: 5'11"  Weight: 205 lbs

     

    After smoking heads for three years with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mike Brown was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers to be the bodyguard for talented players like Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

    While the Leafs had some toughness to give up, the Oilers needed someone to step up to the plate whenever someone took liberties with one of their highly touted top draft picks. They could have done much worse than Brown.

    One of the few enforcers to come in at under six feet tall, Brown rarely shies away from any confrontation. He's fought several guys on this list, and has typically done fine for himself. After all, there's little shame in losing to Zenon Konopka or Jared Boll. 

5. Jared Boll

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    Point Total: 13.0 (tiebreaker: same number of losses as Mike Brown, but Boll beat him in a fight in 2013)

    2012-13 Record: 6-4-2

    Height: 6'2"  Weight: 214 lbs

     

    The patrolman for the Columbus Blue Jackets since 2007, customers don't come much tougher than than Jared Boll. He doesn't have a season on record with fewer than 100 PIMs, and he's even broken the 200-PIM plateau once in his career.

    Not just a fighter, Boll is good for at least two goals a season. (That's sarcasm. He's pretty much just a fighter, but a darn good one.)

4. Zenon Konopka

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    Point Total: 13.0 (tiebreaker: fewer losses than Jared Boll and Mike Brown)

    2012-13 Record: 6-1-2

    Height: 6'0"  Weight: 209 lbs

     

    Zenon Konopka is a war-torn veteran of the fighting circuit who has seen it all. Since leaving the OHL as an undrafted kid from Ontario, he's managed to fight his way up from the depths of the ECHL all the way to the NHL.

    Quite the rags-to-riches story for a guy known for using his fists. Konopka is also a monster in the faceoff circle. Really.

    He's become quite the journeying warrior, and has played for the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators throughout his up-and-down NHL career. All that, of course, came before he caught on with the Minnesota Wild for the 2013 season.

3. Colton Orr

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    Point Total: 14.0

    2012-13 Record: 8-5

    Height: 6'3"  Weight: 220 lbs

     

    One of the true heavyweights left in the NHL, Colton Orr is another player who has been sent through ringer after ringer, only to emerge with his head above water in the pros. He's spent time patrolling for some of the most respected teams in the league—the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and now the Toronto Maple Leafs—and has never backed down.

    The embodiment of the toughness that Toronto tries to play with on a nightly basis, Orr is a great fighter and an outstanding teammate who is always willing to stick up for his guys.

2. Brandon Prust

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    Point Total: 14.0 (tiebreaker: fewer losses than Colton Orr)

    2012-13 Record: 7-4

    Height: 6'2"  Weight: 192 lbs

     

    Saying that a fighter is coveted might be a bit of an overstatement, but the Montreal Canadiens badly wanted to sign Brandon Prust away from the New York Rangers last year and managed to do so. He'd been putting on boxing matches for the Blueshirts for three years and earned a reputation as a guy who can score as well as fight.

    Hoping for 20 or 30 points out of Prust isn't a stretch by any means, which is impressive since he fights so often.

1. Frazer McLaren

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    Point Total: 16.0

    2012-13 Record: 8-4

    Height: 6'5"  Weight: 250 lbs

     

    Built more like a football player than a hockey player, Frazer McLaren drops bombs. He outweighs nearly everyone who decides to scrap with him—a number that may soon begin to dwindle if he continues to dominate like he did in 2013.

    After six years of trying to make it with the San Jose Sharks, McLaren was claimed off of waivers by (surprise!) the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The squad obviously appreciated what he brought to the table; he played in 35 out of 48 games as he climbed his way to the top of the NHL's fisticuffs mountain.

    Impressively, McLaren was also one of the best fighters in the AHL as well, putting up a total of seven fights in the minors while the NHL lockout was ongoing.

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