One of the great things about Hockey is the speed. The game moves so fast that if you blink you might miss something incredible.
However, Hockey juxtaposes this artistry with a non-stop ballet of violence that is wholly unique to this game:
The Body Check.
Before I start listing the players I've identified, let’s look at the science behind a body check.
Isaac Newton's Third Law states:
· To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts. — Whatever draws or presses another is as much drawn or pressed by that other. If you press a stone with your finger, the finger is also pressed by the stone... If a body impinges upon another, and by its force changes the motion of the other, that body also (because of the equality of the mutual pressure) will undergo an equal change, in its own motion, toward the contrary part. The changes made by these actions are equal, not in the velocities but in the motions of the bodies; that is to say, if the bodies are not hindered by any other impediments. For, as the motions are equally changed, the changes of the velocities made toward contrary parts are reciprocally proportional to the bodies.
In laymen’s terms, when two objects collide, they create energy (measured in Joules) that forces these objects apart in direct proportion to its incoming velocity.
Have I lost you?
Ok, one last example: Two skaters, both around 6'3" 220lbs, are headed directly at each other at full speed (roughly 17-20 mph). When they collide (what we call an Open Ice Hit) they produce roughly 8000 joules of energy. This is enough power to launch a hockey puck about 81,000 feet. The stopping force would be around 800 pounds and the energy created would be enough to power a 60 watt light bulb for two and a half minutes.
Here's a real time illustration of what I mean. Isn't science awesome!
Back to the subject.
My list of underrated body checkers is a collection of players who just aren't on the radar of a lot of Hockey fans. We all know about Dion Phaneuf, Chris Neal, Brooks Orpik, Milan Lucic and Chris Pronger.
However, I can guarantee that all of these notorious bone crunchers make sure they keep an eye on the following players.
In no particular order:
Cal Clutterbuck - Minnesota Wild. Cal is perhaps the closest to moving off this list after two consecutive 300+ hit seasons. At 5'11" he's like a jackhammer on skates and would be a superstar if he played on a team like the Leafs.
Chris Kunitz - Pittsburg Penguins. It’s easy to get over shadowed when playing on a team with hitting machines like Orpik and Matt Cooke. However, there is at least one guy out there who doesn't think Kunie is underrated.
Marc Staal - New York Rangers. The only one who doesn't enjoy watching the Staal brothers play hockey is their mother. They play a rough style of game that stays true to their Thunder Bay roots and Marc may be the toughest of the bunch.
Michael Del Zotto - New York Rangers. What, another Ranger? Trust me, this kid can hit. Don't take my word for it, ask the Carolina Hurricanes. MDZ is just 19 and still learning how to play the game. Once he fills out a bit more, he and Staal will be a terrifying pair on the Ranger defense.
Zach Bogosian - Atlanta Thrashers. Taken just two picks ahead junior checking legend Luke Schenn, Zach wasn't well known for his physicality. However, those in "the know" were well aware that the young man had an anvil for a shoulder. I guess Danny Alfredsson didn't get the memo.
Well that's it. Keep in mind this is by no means a definitive list and I could have easily listed 30 more players. But who has the time to read all that?
Please let me know who your favorite is and provide video links if possible.
I'll leave you with this. Its games like that when a player becomes a legend in a legit hockey town.