Engelland 1 / Orr 0
It is early in the 2010-2011, but it is time to rank the NHL’s Top 15 Heavyweight fighters so far.
To make this list a player must be a regular to the dance. I believe a true fighter in hockey isn’t worried about his win/loss record but rather the value he has to his team. That being said, the best in the game win more than their share.
In years past, George Laraque or Andrew Peters would be the regular contenders. This year we have a few new faces and a number of the usual suspects.
The list will not include Chara or Iginla or players of that caliber since they are not painted with the same brush. Both are obviously tough, however, a fighter is labeled a fighter even if they are multi-dimensional on their team.
Pests or grinders around the NHL have their fair share of fights, and once in a while, they find themselves at the end of a punch from a much larger or experienced pugilist. These players can fight, and in some cases, considered heavyweights but it isn't the norm.
A true heavyweight brings an intimidation factor to the game. Typically, heavyweights square off against each other. There are a number of deserving names which may work onto this list at another point in the season but the top 15 right now are…
Michael Rupp is a classic face fighter. Tim Hunter and Bob McGill would be proud. If you wonder what a face fighter is, well they usually look like they are trying to break their opponents hand on their face—hense the nose.
That being said, Rupp is a tough guy that won't back down from anyone.
This year, he has battled Jody Shelley and Matt Carkner. I have him at no wins and two losses, but those are against two top notch competitors.
Rupp stands at 6'5" and weighs in at 230 pounds.
Last season, Rupp had 12 fight including a few bad losses but he did do well picking on the leagues pests.
By seasons end he'll have fought over 15 times although his nose will get the odd fight off with the addition of Deryk Engelland to the roster.
Cody McLeod is a grinder that can handle his own with the big boys.
The Avalanche are a young team that is evolving with each game. They will use McLeod in both roles maximizing their roster avoiding a spot being used for a one dimensional goon.
Cody has not paired off with a pure fighter yet this year although he has dropped the gloves twice so far.
In his 18 fights last season, Cody came out on the losing end way too often. This year, Cody will likely have a similar number of tilts but will get his hand raised more often. Practice makes perfect, or he'll follow Rupp's lead into face fighting.
McLeod is a 6'2", 205 pound competitor. That is on the smaller side which will keep Cody from climbing this competitive list.
The St. Louis Blues are a very exciting team, and the role of BJ Crombeen is just as exciting.
BJ is a very impressive competitor willing to take on all comers.
Standing 6'2" and weighing in at 210 pounds, Crombeen has a solid victory over Shane O'Brien. BJ has already had three fights total this year and will likely break 20 this season.
Last year, BJ had 18 fights mainly against middle weights but had a very strong success record. I'm interested to see how he does this year against the games elite.
Jody Shelley is a classic fit on the Flyers lineup this year. Jody has slowed his pace in recent years going from 30 NHL fights in 2003 to 13 last year.
Jody won't back down to anyone. He took a round out on Rupp already this year while holding his own losing a close fight with George Parros.
The 6'3", 230 pound tough guy should break 15 fights this season as the Flyers faithful will accept nothing less.
Clarkson's role in New Jersey has changed slightly over the last few years. Once a minimum-ice time goon with over 20 fights in a season, he is expected to show greater discipline. Last year, he was only in nine fights.
This year, he has already had three fights, all matchups with grinders or lesser fighters. It appears David is ready for a 15-fight year.
The 6'1", 205 pound defenceman can hold his own.
Last year Frazer made it clear he wanted to take on the best fighters in the game. He took two losses to Parros, but it didn't faze the young tough guy. Frazer had eight NHL fights and 11 more in the AHL.
At 23-years-old, bruiser is 6'4" and 220 pounds and could be the next alpha dog in the NHL.
Jared Boll took it to McLaren this year in one of Frazer's two fights this season.
It would seem likely that McLaren will have over 20 fights this year.
Younger brother of pure GOON Wade Brookbank is Sheldon Brookbank. Sheldon is a solid defencemen but can throw knuckles at any time at a high level.
Last year, Sheldon only found himself in eight fights, however, this year he is already at two. The Ducks need Sheldon to play a regular shift due to the Ducks thin back end. Ten fights this season seems realistic.
Brookbank stands 6'2" and 210 pounds. He'll never be as good as his brother in the art of hockey fights but is still deserving of a Top 10 spot.
Not Terry Carkner, it's Matt. Matt Carkner has steadily improved his fighting skill set and is now one of the NHL's top guns.
Matt is a regular on the Senators blue line while still finding time for 24 fights last season. His rivalry with Colton Orr has lead to a number of highlight reel fights.
This year, Matt has already had two big fights. As expected, Carkner and Orr crossed paths already and he also danced with Rupp.
Matt is a monster weighing 230 pounds and is an impressive 6'4".
Since Matt and Colton will probably fight eight times alone, Carkner should fight over 25 times this season.
One of the busiest fighters in the game Jared Boll is a classic tough guy.
Jared reminds me of a Tony Twist-style fighter, throwing punches resembling a mule's kick.
The 6'3", 200 pound Blue Jacket has only fought once so far this year beating young Frazer McLaren convincingly.
Last year, Boll had 21 fights and should go over 25 this year. Don't be shocked if he cracks the top five this season.
This guys is a MONSTER! Derek is 6'7", 270 pounds and maybe the scariest player in the game.
Last year, Derek only dropped his gloves nine times but had a tough time cracking the Wild lineup and when he did, his ice time would be limited to a couple shifts a game.
This year, Boogaard has joined the New York Rangers and added much needed toughness. Derek has two fights so far this season including a back-and-forth tilt with Colton Orr.
Look for Boogaard to push for the top spot if he can find himself in 20 or more fights. Derek doesn't lose much and if he does it's usually a great fight.
6'7", 270 pounds, WOW!
Colton Orr reminds me of a bigger Rob Ray. If the fight strap wasn't mandatory, I'm sure Colton would finish fights just like Ray did with his jersey, shoulder pads and elbow pads sprayed all over the ice.
Colton is an exciting fighter that knows his role very well. Orr is 6'3" and 225 pounds of pure energy.
It felt like like more but Colton had 23 fights last season and should reach that number easily this year. Always hunting his tough guy frat brothers Colton has thrown down with Carkner as expected and Boogaard.
Wearing No. 28 in Toronto after long time fan favourite Tie Domi, Colton has represented very well.
Colton could be higher, but he has had a few upsets that keep him from the very top. By seasons end, that could be different.
The punch that changed his career. When Deryk squared off with Orr, the announcers were shocked. They thought Engelland was biting off more then he could handle. They even said they felt it was Rupp's job. One punch changed that.
When Colton Orr was needing help off the ice, it was clear Deryk could toss.
I'm sure both men already have the rematch marked on the calendar.
Deryk has also had two more fights where he impressed. The 6'2", 210 pound defenseman had nine fights in the AHL last year with three more up with the big club.
The pace Engelland is on right now should bring him to 15 or more fights this season.
The kid can fight!
If this was just about the number of fights alone, Zenon is on a pace unparalleled.
Last year, Konopka fought a league leading 33 times, and this year he's tied for the lead again with four more.
Not always waiting for the heavyweight Zenon will fight anyone. Typically his fights are of the entertaining variety as he likes to let his hands fly.
Zenon is only 6' 0" and 210 pounds which is still on the smaller side of the top fighters.
It would be unfair to compare Konopka to Dave "Tiger" Williams since the Tiger could play a regular shift and produce points but Zenon racks up penalty minutes on a fast pace.
I feel Zenon may push 40 fights this season. Can he claim the No. 1 spot? Wouldn't surprise me!
The BJ Penn of the NHL. Prust is a natural when it comes to fighting on ice. He is only 6'0" and 200 pounds. Despite the lack of size, he can run anyone's show!
Brandon wins a fair number of his bouts, but in 2009, he had his jaw broken by Cam Janssen. Did that end his fighting days? Nope. Prust already had three wins this season over Konopka, Lucic and Brown from Toronto.
Last year, Brandon fought 25 times and should reach that number again.
I'm looking forward to the rematch with Janssen!
Arguably the dirtiest player in the game. Cam has earned a reputation for walking a dangerous line. Unlike a player like Sean Avery, Cam is always more the willing to back up his actions.
Cam is also small at 5'11" and 205 pounds, compared to fighters like Boogaard or Parros, but he'll always answer the bell.
So far this year, Cam has yet to fight as he has just returned to the lineup.
Paired with BJ Crombeen, the St. Louis Blues will not be pushed around. Last year, Cam fought 19 times and should get to at least 15 this year.
Whether Cam wins his fights or loses them, they are always fun to watch.
So how is it possible the son of a Toys R Us executive can be the top enforcer in the NHL? I'll tell you how...it's all about the mustache.
George Parros is so intimidating, like Chuck Norris, the NHL now has "Parros'isms". For example: When the Boogeyman goes to bed at night, he checks his closet for George Parros!
The 6'5", 220 pound-beast of a man fought 20 times last year and will likely repeat that number this year.
George's first two fights this year were intense against Thorburn and Shelley.
Unlike most fighters George doesn't have to fight a crazy amount as his reputation and presence change how other teams play the Ducks. When it's time to send a message or change momentum in a game, the job is done with force.
Parros a graduate of Princton University is not your typical tough guy. Following a similar path to former tough guy Stu Grimson who is now a lawyer, Parros is prepared for life after hockey.
Parros may not be the top spot all year, he will be a factor.
"Respect the Stache!"