Anecdotes involving great fights are a part of hockey lore. The thing that makes the fastest game on earth so exciting and intoxicating is it offers something different for each fan.
If you like finesse there is Lemieux, and Gretzky, Orr or Ovechin; if you like grit and determination there is Clarke, Richard, and Messier.
You want a good scrap? Well there are players who can provide that too. No matter what critics of NHL violence say about the game, if you have followed hockey for any amount of time you probably can recount a incident that impacted you; it may have caused you to hate an opposing team or enjoy a particular player.
As always it is hard to select players that everyone agrees with. Howatt, Plager, Bouchard, "Hound" Kelly,and many others were considered but omitted in the final analysis. Hockey unlike any other sport has had many legendary scraps which have only added to the games allure and its legend.
The late Rocket Richard said' Ted Lindsay may just have been the most valuable Red Wings player I ever faced." Some might recall that the two were mortal enemies who would just as well would have finished their hockey matches in the back hall of the stadium or the back alley behind it.
The 5'8", 160 pound Lindsay was a fan favorite because of his talent, leadership and grit. Ted's size did not stop him from agitating the opposition or throwing the first punch.
He also was a skilled member of the production line; at the time the best forward line in hockey. Lindsay won the Art Ross trophy as the leagues top scorer and was a perennial all star.
The popular left wing was traded to Chicago because of his efforts to form a players union. Ultimate Ted prevailed returning to the Wings as a player and later being voted Top Executive for orchestrating the teams return to respectability.
Aggressive Hockey was back in town.
"Turk" Sanderson was a very talented performer who possessed a unique mixture of talent, charisma, and bravado. Sanderson was a former top draft choice who won Rookie of the Year honors while skating with the Big Bad Bruins.
He got the attention of Bruin scouts when playing for the Niagara Falls Flyers and fighting future Bruin legend Bobby Orr. Opposing fans hated Sanderson who was in the middle of altercations all over the NHL.
Sanderson had equal amounts of talent and grit. Like Probert Sanderson also experienced alcohol abuse problems and lost millions in poor investments. Sanderson overcame all of his problems and is now a successful motivational speaker and investment manager in Boston.
Windsor, Ontario native Bob Probert came from junior hockey with a established reputation as a tough competitor and a offensive threat. He concluded his junior hockey career in Brantford and Sault Saint Marie with 163 goals and 221 assists and 3300 PIMs.
Probert made a quick reputation for himself taking on all comers. He won several bouts with some of the most feared NHL tough guys such as Domi, Brashear and a host of other contenders. His best overall season was in 87-88 where he scored 29 goals and recieved 398 minutes in the penalty box.
Probert also experienced several problems with the border authorities for alcohol and drug issues. Ultimately these problems kept him from realizing his full potential. Probert ranks high for his overall skill.
Dan Maloney was respected by opposing players and loved by his teammates. Coach Bob Pulford was not happy when Maloney was traded to the Red Wings with Defenceman Terry Harper as compensation for Marcel Dionne.
Maloney was quickly embraced by Detroit fans for his hustle and willingness to fight anyone for his team.
Maloney was no goon; he possessed a decent wrist shoot and worked and hustled every single shift. As a junior with the London Knights he scored 31 goals while picking up 232 PIM's in 54 games.
As a Red Wing Maloney became involved in a exchange with Brian Glennie of the Maple Leafs and was charged with assault. Much later Maloney was traded to Toronto and reunited with his London Knight's team mate Darryl Sittler.
Maloney often said' I never counted how many fights I won or lost; It doesn't matter how many fights you win anyway; its how many times you show up." Dan Maloney always showed up.
Big John Ferguson played for th Montreal Canadiens from 1963-1971. A fierce competitor he was loyal to his teammates and protected Jean beliveau from any unnesesary roughness.
Ferguson was a good fighter and was a valuable menber of the Canadiens making room for the skill players to make plays. Later as a coach for the first Team Canada series Ferguson was said to have instructed Bobby Clarke to try to break Valeri Kharlamov's ankle.
Ferguson won five Stanley Cups with Montreal and later became a GM with Winnipeg in the WHA.
Dave Schultz was so intimidating while playing with the Broad Street Bullies that he actually altered the effectiveness of players and teams visiting the Philadelphia Spectrum. Team management had to revamp their rosters adding tougher players with limited ability to protect their star players.
Schultz himself knew his role was to intimidate opposing players, but he also added a scoring touch as icing on the cake. Schultz fought stars like Bobby Orr, Brad Park, and Denis Potvin taking them off the ice for extended periods and helping his team win.
Dave was a member of two Flyers Stanley Cup winning teams. His nickname "Hammer" fit him well.
Bryan Watson was not large, nor did he have a booming shot from the point, but Watson was known for his heart and grit competing in every game he played in. Spending time in the minor leagues and earning MVP honors Watson arrived in the NHL with a exceptional work ethic.
He spent time in Detroit, Oakland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington and Cincinati in the WHA. Watson did such a super job irritating and harrassing Bobby Hull during the Stanley Cup playoffs while with Detroit that Hull nicknamed him Superpest.
Watson was not afraid to fight anyone and often dropped his gloves to protect the honor of his team. Bryan also had the opportunity to train with Doug Harvey while in the minor leagues which improved his game.
When Watson ended his career he opened a pizza restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia called "Bugsy's" a favorite hangout of Washington hockey fans.
Sean Avery in some ways is a throw back to the old days when the NHL was populated by characters. At 5'10" and 195 pounds Avery was a sought after junior performer. In his last year of juniors in Kingston, Sean scored 28 goals and 56 assists but also recieved 286 PIM's.
In the NHL Avery is hated by many teams and fans but he contributes to his team bby agitating the opposing team. Avery has played for Detroit, LA, Dallas and the New York Rangers.
Donald Brashear had a difficult childhood. His parents divorced when he was very young and after moving with his mother to Quebec he was eventually placed in a foster home.
Hockey became a release for Brashear; it was in hockey that he found camaraderie, and a family atmosphere he had been deprived of growing up.
At 6'3" and 239 pounds He has fought almost ever heavy weight in the NHL and beat most of them; some several times. Brashear has played for several teams including Montreal, Philadelphia, Vancouver and Washington. Many are surprised to learn that Donald is a accomplished pianist.
Tie Domi is known throughout the NHL as a pugilist to stay away from. Domi with 3406 PIM's to his credit would throw everything he had into any brawl he was involved in.
Domi's favorite player was Dave "Tiger" Williams. Domi not surprisingly was a fan favorite every place he played. He played for the Leafs, Rangers, Winnipeg, and Toronto.