NHL Fights Video: Sidney Crosby and the 25 Best Star Brawls of All Time

Thomas CopainCorrespondent IDecember 15, 2010

NHL Fights Video: Sidney Crosby and the 25 Best Star Brawls of All Time

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Like it or not, fights are a big part of hockey.

    But be honest, there's always a bit of energy when two star attractions (whether they're more inclined to drop the gloves or not) decide to go. You can hear it in the way the crowd buzzes, the anticipation fills the arena.

    The energy and the emotion reach new levels of frenzy on the ice and in the crowd. Watching two stars drop the gloves is just fun.

    Sidney Crosby's had a couple of fights in his career. They may not have been pretty, but they were fights nonetheless. Here are 25 of the best star fights in history, and you can bet Crosby will be on this list.

25) Wayne Gretzky Vs. Neal Broten

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    Yes, Wayne Gretzky got in a fight. Wayne Gretzky...got in a fight.

    Gretzky dropped the gloves very rarely in his career, but this was one of the more memorable ones when he fought Broten (then of the Minnesota North Stars).

    Suffice to say, there's a reason he's the best offensive player in NHL history, and not the best enforcer.

24) Ilya Kovalchuk Vs Mike Green

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    The buildup might have been better than the actual brawl, when Green literally threw Kovalchuk to the ice like he was practicing for the discus.

    But it was somewhat enjoyable and Kovalchuk did get a couple of decent shots in on Green before Green auditioned to make the Summer Olympics.

23) Daniel Alfredsson Vs. Doug Gilmour

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    Alfredsson has received a reputation of sometimes being a dirty player (or at least he has in Toronto and in Anaheim), but in this quick tussle with Doug Gilmour, the one known as "Alfie" showed his tough side.

    To be honest, I didn't think Alfredsson had that in him. A pretty strong shot with the left to bring down Gilmour. Unfortunately for Gilmour, he has another appearance later in this list.

22) Sidney Crosby Vs. Matt Niskanen

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    There are a few underlying themes to any Sidney Crosby fight. They're short, they're active, there's a lot of punches and Crosby will try to fling his opponent around.

    Niskanen proved to be a very willing opponent and a much better fight than a couple of Crosby's other fights. Might be the best punches Sidney's thrown in any of his fights.

21) Evgeni Malkin Vs. Henrik Zetterberg

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    It was somewhat comical to see Malkin chasing Zetterberg around the front of the net like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon (in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final no less).

    But it was clear that Malkin accomplished what he needed to do. He sent a message to the rest of the Red Wings and provided a big boost to the Penguins, who went on to win the series and the Cup in seven games.

20) Vincent Lecavalier Vs. Zdeno Chara

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    Dany Heatley getting into it with Nolan Pratt is the sideshow of this brawl, but the mammoth Chara pummeling Lecavalier is the main event.

    Why anyone challenges Chara (who's 6-9, 255 and makes the 6-4 Lecavalier look small) is beyond me, but Lecavalier has a short history of dropping the gloves when he feels he has to.

    Of course, he hasn't fared well in those, either.

19) Ray Bourque Vs. Rick Dudley

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    Surprising that Bourque, who had 17 fighting majors in his career, dropped them as many times as he did because most of us who watched him in the '90s don't remember him as a fighter.

    Still as a young buck, he does impressively well against Rick Dudley, landing some nice punches before the officials get in there and stop the fight.

18) Mats Sundin Vs Dave Hannan

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    When this fight went down in the 1991-92 season, Hannan had 22 career fights to his name. Sundin had none and would have only one more in his career.

    There's a reason why that is, and Hannan, who wasn't a big fighter, either, dominated this matchup.

17) David Backes Vs. Anssi Samela

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    Backes and Salmela are both NHL players, and Backes is a much bigger name than Salmela.

    But this one went down in the 2008 World Championships, and one look at the bloody mess resembling Salmela's nose is all you have to know about this bout.

    Salmela should be credited for staying in there as he did against the bigger Backes.

16) Olli Jokinen Vs Sam Gagner

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    Any fight between Calgary and Edmonton is usually bound to be a strong battle, but there's more juice involved when two offensive guys like Gagner and Jokinen get into it.

    Gagner has a little bit more of a fighting resume than Jokinen does, but Jokinen gets in some good shots before Gagner takes him down at center ice.

15) Ilya Kovalchuk Vs. Matt Cooke

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    Cooke is one of the more well-decorated fighters (or pest at the very least) in the league and Kovalchuk, who's fought a little more than one would think, lands some nice punches at Cooke before the scrap comes to an end.

    Style points to Kovalchuk as well, landing punches with the jersey over his head and his face looking at the ice.

14) Ryan Kesler Vs. Sam Gagner

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    Gagner was a rookie here, and Kesler was a little more established as a solid NHL player (a year or two after the Flyers tried to sign him to a massive offer sheet).

    Still in the two fights we've seen of Gagner, he's handled himself very well, especially against a more seasoned fighter in Kesler.

13) Sidney Crosby Vs Andrew Ference

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    Sid the Kid's first NHL fight was a spirited bout, if not a long one. Some solid punches on both sides and Ference left the fight a little bloodied on the top of the head.

    Even then, Crosby seemed to like using his leverage to yank his opponents down in bouts.

12) Mark Messier Vs. Darius Kasparaitis

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    For how intimidating and physically dominating a force Messier was during his Hall of Fame career, he was never much of a fighter. He'd send you into next week on a hit, but he wasn't really a fighter.

    But he did have the ability to land a knockout blow, like he did here with Kasparaitis.

11) Bobby Orr Vs Earl Heiskala

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    Orr was pretty underrated as a fighter, in style and in numbers. Orr dropped the gloves more times than you would think, and if this fight with Philadelphia's Earl Heiskala is any indication, he was pretty good too.

    Any time you can throw strong punches that connect while someone's holding you back, that takes skill.

    And really, there had to be at least one Flyers-Bruins fight in this list.

10) Mario Lemieux Vs. Gary Lupul

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    "Super Mario" had some super throws (sorry for the awful play on words) in this bout from early in his career against Vancouver.

    For someone who didn't fight an awful lot, Lemieux was pretty good at it.

    If you think I'm lying, ask Lupul, who needed goaltender (and current Canuck broadcaster) John Garrett to step in.

9) Joe Sakic Vs Doug Gilmour

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    Two of the more skilled players of our time in what turned out to be a very one-sided affair. Sakic's hands were more known for producing one of the deadliest wrist shots of his era, but he had one heck of a fight against Gilmour, who was holding on for dear life.

    That was after Sakic had scored a goal. So if a goal, an assist and a fight is a Gordie Howe hat trick, than can a goal resulting in a fight be called the Sakic two-fer?

8) Vincent Lecavalier Vs. Jarome Iginla

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    Iginla is a much more accomplished fighter and much more physical player than Lecavalier.

    The sign that Lecavalier was willing to go with Iginla in what was at the time a very surprising move was proof to many that he could be a leader and could be a captain.

    It turned out to be a memorable moment from the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.

7) Claude Lemieux Vs Keith Tkachuk

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    International Hockey is some of the most entertaining hockey to watch, and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey was some of the best I've seen in my lifetime.

    This large-scale brawl had a few interesting undercards (including a quick scuffle between then-Devil teammates Bill Guerin and Scott Stevens).

    But the best brawl was between super-pest Claude Lemieux and power forward Keith Tkachuk in an entertaining fight.

6) Pavel Datsyuk Vs. Corey Perry

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    Like Gretzky, Datsyuk is about the last person you'd ever expect to fight, especially someone with the size and strength of Corey Perry.

    But Datsyuk, who might have the Lady Byng Trophy named after him soon, does a great job of hanging in with a much more skilled fighter in Perry and even lands a couple of good blows himself.

5) Cam Neely Vs. Lindy Ruff

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    In his short but brilliant career, Neely was one of the most dangerous combinations of skill, toughness and intimidation the League had ever seen.

    Never afraid to drop the gloves, Neely could knock anyone out cold, including then-player and current Sabres General Manager Lindy Ruff.

    Disregarding this fight alone, the fact that Neely took on Ulf Samuelsson should be proof to how tough he was.

4) Denis Savard Vs. Dale Hawerchuk

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    It's not often when two of the more offensively gifted players of their eras square off in a bout, it's less likely when two Hall of Famers like Savard and Hawerchuk square off and have a fight like they did.

    For a guy who was 5-foot-7, Savard put up one heck of a fight and threw some great punches against the bigger Hawerchuk. But I doubt either one will be remembered solely for this fight.

3) Bill Guerin Vs Jarome Iginla

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    Two of the better, if not two of the best, power forwards of our time going at it in what can only be described as a fantastic scrap.

    Any fight that would've included the punches the two threw at each other would have been a classic, but make it Guerin and Iginla, and it's one for the history books. One of the better bouts I've seen.

2) Eric Lindros Vs Scott Stevens

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    Two titans (literally and figuratively) who did battle for many years in the Atlantic Division and in the Eastern Conference Playoffs (when Lindros was healthy, that was).

    Lindros was a physical force and was unafraid to take on the big boys like Stevens. Stevens was one of the most devastating hitters the game has ever known.

    Lindros won this bout, but Stevens had the last laugh when he K.O.'ed Lindros in the 2000 Conference Final.

1) Patrick Roy Vs. Mike Vernon

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    How can it be anything else? The fight that was the face of a six-year rivalry that was one of the fiercest in sports. In its prime, Detroit-Colorado was appointment television, just because you knew there would be at least one big brawl.

    But nothing takes the crown of best fight of this rivalry more than Patrick Roy wailing away at Mike Vernon while Vernon returns with haymakers.