There is no doubt hockey is one of the toughest sports to play.
Both teams battle like gladiators on ice, trying to do whatever they possibly can to score goals and win the game. The incredibly hard hits, head shots, fights and pucks flying at high speeds make hockey one of the most exciting sporting events to watch.
In the NHL, blood is shed, teeth are lost and bones are broken. But these players love the game they play, and a little bruise or a couple stitches is not going to keep them off the ice for long.
Here is a ranking of the 25 best tough-guy pictures in the history of the NHL.
The level of toughness one must have had to play goalie back before the pads were the size they are in today's game astounds me.
It's like playing goalie in lacrosse with player's firing hard objects at you when you have barely any padding. I will never understand it.
What is so tough about a picture of a guy taking a slap shot?
Well, my friend, how about you stand between the pipes and try to save a shot from a man who won the "Hardest Shot Competition" seven times and once shot a puck so hard it shattered the opposing goaltenders mask.
You don't have to make people bleed, get into a fight or give out a huge hit to be considered tough. Goaltenders had trouble saving MacInnis' shots his entire career.
His shot defines tough.
Being tough is not just for the players...
...coaches may get in the action as well.
John Tortorella was suspended one game in the 2009 playoffs for some unusual conduct from a head coach. Tortorella sprayed a Washington fan with water, threw a water bottle at another fan and then picked up a stick and waved it at the crowd of the Verizon Center.
This picture shows that players are not the only ones who take matters into their own hands when they do not like what is going on.
This is a photo of a fight between John Scott of the Chicago Blackhawks and Kevin Westgarth of the Los Angeles Kings.
There was not really a winner of the fight. Neither of the players fell to the ice. They had to be broken up by the referee.
By watching the video of the fight and looking at this photo, it is easy to pick a winner.Scott looks perfectly fine, while Westgarth looks like he just finished a scene of a Wes Craven film.
Last season, in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, Duncan Keith was playing defense when the incident occurred. About halfway through the second period, the Hawks were on the power play, and they were trying to tie the game up and clinch a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
A San Jose player attempted to clear the puck, but Keith and his teeth got in the way, and he paid the price. He lost seven teeth.
The Blackhawks won the game and eventually went on to the the holy grail of hockey. What makes this picture seem so tough?
Duncan Keith played in the third period.
By no means is Sidney Crosby a fighter or known for being tough. He is often criticized for being a "cry baby."
Think what you want, but you have to admire that the greatest player in the league will go out and occasionally fight his opponents without the fear of being injured.
Take a look at this picture. This fight that shed blood broke out in a preseason game.
Yes, that's right. Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins and Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators dropped the gloves in a preseason game.
Fights like these are what makes the game of hockey superior to the rest. Players go out and play what they are paid to do, and they play as tough and as hard as the can.
It's not football, where the third-string quarterback plays the majority of preseason games. It's not baseball, where pitchers pitch in spring training when they will never get called up to the bigs.
Hockey players play with heart and passion when they step onto the ice, no matter how big the game is.
Bob Probert is a poster player for tough guys in the NHL.
Bob had a great career while playing for both Detroit and Chicago. His 16-year career ended when he retired after the 2002 season.
Probert was one of the greatest fighters to ever play the game. In this picture, he has blood all over his face but still continued to fight his opponent.
Probert tragically lost his life last summer after suffering "severe chest pains" while boating with his family in Canada. He is gone now but will never be forgotten in the hockey world.
When the Los Angeles Kings opened the 2010-11 season in Vancouver, I am sure Anze Kopitar did not expect anything like this to happen.
Kopitar took an opposing players stick to the face, slicing the skin open. He received 18 stitches around his mouth and missed only about 10 minutes of the game. He returned to the ice in the third period and later scored in the shootout. The Kings won in the shootout.
Huge hits are one of the most exciting things to watch at a hockey game.
Here is a picture of Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames absolutely demolishing Denis Hamel of the Ottawa Senators. You know a hit in the NHL is big when the player being hit is parallel to the ice.
Jerome Iginla is known for being one of the best forwards in the game of hockey today. The Calgary Flames big man has a great shot and is a great playmaker who helps his team win.
Here is a photo of Iginla after a fight with Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.
Hockey is a tough sport. It is foolish to play the game and think something like this wouldn't happen to you.
Some believe Dave Schultz is the most feared hockey player to ever play the game.
"The Hammer" won two Stanley Cups while playing for Philadelphia and was a part of Philadelphia's "Broad Street Bullies."
Here is a classic photo of the late John Ferguson. He played all eight of his NHL seasons as an enforcer for Montreal.
This picture shows that even back in the 1960s, hockey was still the toughest sport around.
Gerry Cheevers has arguably one of the most intimidating goalie masks of all time.
The stitches on his mask indicated all the places he had been hit in the face with the puck. Cheevers drew the stitches on the mask himself, proving he is not only a goaltender, but an artist.
Just looking at the mask gives me the creeps. I can't imagine having to play against a guy wearing it.
Earlier this season, Canucks center Manny Malhotra took a puck to his left eye. He was ruled out for the rest of the season and the NHL playoffs.
Since the injury, Malhotra underwent two surgeries and is in the process of getting his sight back. There is still a chance he will lose sight in his left eye.
Players must be crazy to not wear a visor.
There is one thing that separates George Hainsworth and the previous goalies apart. All of the goalies already listed wore masks.
Not the case for Hainsworth. He won the Vezina Trophy without wearing a mask the first year the trophy was given out.
Can you say badass?
This is a photo of Montreal Canadiens' great, Henri Richard.
Doesn't look so tough, correct?
Well, how about you go and win 11 Stanley Cups. The "Pocket Rocket" holds the record for most Stanley Cups as a player.
He has more rings then fingers.
Steve Yzerman was hit directly in the eye during the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
You have to be an extremely tough guy to suffer an injury like that and continue the journey of winning a Stanley Cup.
Patrick Roy is going to go down in history for being one of the best goaltenders in the history of the NHL. But playing goalie was not the only thing he could do.
Roy was also capable of dropping the gloves.
The all-out brawl between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings took place on March 26, 1997.
With only a few minutes left in the first period, a fight broke out between Claude Lemieux and Darren McCarty. McCarty took Lemieux to the ice and continued punching him and kneeing him in the face.
Avs' goaltender Patrick Roy did not like what McCarty was doing to his teammate, so he attempted to skate to Lemieux to help him out. Roy was then victim to an open-ice check from Brendan Shanahan before getting up to meet Wing's goaltender Mike Vernon. The two goalies fought in the middle of the ice at Joe Lewis Arena.
This fight definitely goes down in history as one of the best fights the NHL has ever seen.
Some consider Dave Semenko one of the toughest players to ever play the game of hockey.
He played for the Oilers at the same time as the great Wayne Gretzky. Semenko was known as Wayne's bodyguard.
There is no blood in this picture. There are no stitches, black eyes or bandages. This picture is pure intimidation.
Gordie Howe is not only one of the best players to ever play this great game, but he is also one of the toughest to ever step on the ice. Howe could not only make magic with his stick, but he could create havoc with his fists.
Just look at the picture. He has a fierce look in his eyes, long muscular arms and the determination to go out to the ice every night to play tough and win games.
Clint Malarchuk is famous for this injury.
In a game between the Buffalo Sabres and the St. Louis Blues in 1989, two players became tangled up while chasing a puck going towards the Buffalo goaltender. The Blues' Steve Tuttle lost his balance and fell. While falling, his skate kicked up and sliced Malarchuk's internal jugular vein. Malarchuk was just minutes away from dying but was thankfully saved by the team's trainer. The cut Malarchuk suffered gave him over 300 stitches.
Malarchuk returned to the ice four days later and played the rest of the season, leading Buffalo into the playoffs. Unfortunately, they lost in the first round.
Milarchuk's determination to play and to lead his team to the postseason are what make this photo and Clint Milarchuk so tough.
Bobby Hull is another one of hockey's all-time greatest superstars. The "Golden Jet" was a great offensive force, and he proved he was solid on defense as well.
This is a photo of Hull after he fought John Ferguson, one of hockey's all-time greatest fighters. The bloody face and the semi-smile show just how tough he was.
The Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes faced each other in the first round of this season's NHL playoffs. During Game 2 in Detroit, Johan Franzen suffered a big hit from Coyote Shance Doan.
After the hit, Franzen flew into the Detroit boards face first. He suffered severe facial injuries, including a broken nose and 23 stitches.
On Jan. 2, 2010, Keith Tkachuk and the St. Louis Blues hosted the Chicago Blackhawks at the Scottrade Center. The Blues were trailing 6-2 with a few minutes left in the game when a shot from the point hit Tkachuk above the mouth and wound up finding the net.
I don't care who you are, taking a puck in the face and scoring a goal during the same play makes you unbelievably tough. Tkachuk lost four teeth and is still in the process of fixing the top of his mouth. His jaw was damaged, and doctors had to take fragments of his hip bone and place them in his jaw in order to fix it.
Although Tkachuk looks pretty happy in this picture, I cannot imagine the pain he suffered after this injury.