Fighting has always been part of the game of hockey, and there have been some players that were able—and willing—to drop the gloves with anyone.
In this slideshow, we're looking at the 50 greatest tough guys in NHL history. This is not a ranking of which player could whip another one's tail or who was ultimately the toughest but rather a look at a group of guys that were enforcers, protectors and bullies.
Scott does little more than fight, but when he does he's very effective.
Kennedy has the distinction of being an NHL record holder.
He was hit for the most penalties—eight—in a single postseason game, and he also owns the record for most penalty minutes—38—in a single playoff contest.
Roenick didn't only put up huge point totals and score highlight-reel goals. He was fierce on the ice and suffered a number of major injuries (concussions, broken jaw) during his time in the NHL.
One of the best fighters in Habs history, Nilan also scored 110 goals in just under 700 NHL games.
One of the most lethal hitters of the last 20 years, Hatcher put a few players (Roenick) in the hospital without dropping the gloves. When when it came to fighting, he rarely had a problem stepping up.
Shanahan earned league-wide respect during his time playing the game, and part of that was earned by standing up for teammates when the gloves needed to come off.
He piled up 330 goals in only 793 regular season games, but he was an enforcer who always had the back of his teammates. He brought toughness back to Toronto in the mid-1980s.
Remembered more for his 958 regular-season points, Robinson was an elite scorer who also mixed it up during his time with the Habs.
A strong leader and great scorer, Iginla's physical play is overlooked too often. He's one of the smartest fighters in the game.
A big fighter that didn't get as much credit as he should have in the mid-1990s, Antoski threw down with some of the game's greats and held his own.
Fotiu is one of the all-time fan favorites at Madison Square Garden and never got cheated when the gloves hit the ice.
This photo might look like one of the Bee Gees, but Flett was the heart and soul of the Broadstreet Bullies.
Early in his career, Mikita was one of the most penalized players in the game and often mixed it up with players much bigger than him. However, after his daughter once asked his wife, "why is daddy always sitting by himself," he changed his ways.
One of the most loved captains in Habs history, Bouchard was similar to Keith Magnuson in the regard that he earned respect by protecting teammates, not scoring goals.
In 1998, "The Hockey News" named Durbano the baddest man in hockey. That says a lot about what he brought to the ice each night.
Unfortunately one of the players the game lost this summer, Boogaard was loved by teammates and fans alike.
One of the old-school enforcers from the Original Six era, Fleming was called "Mr. Clean" because he looked like the face of the cleaning product—not because of his play.
He was one of the most loved fighters in Boston history.
One of the great old-school tough guys from the era before helmets were standard issue.
Clark Gillies rarely saw a fight he didn't want to be a part of, and he was able to throw the fists as fast as anyone.
To some, Clarke is the greatest thing since sliced bread. To others, he's the game's greatest villain. However, everyone agrees that he was tough to play against.
One of the greatest enforcers in the history of the game, Brown fans claim he never lost a fight.
Fraser played on some teams that fought a lot, and he was always in the mix.
One of the greatest players ever played with a chip on his shoulder... a shoulder that made contact with many opponents.
Some great fights in the mid- to late-1980s involved Tim Hunter, who piled up 375 PIM in 1988-89.
Here's a nice video of the cheap shot artist at work. Not much about him as a player that was outstanding.
In 1985-86, Kocur racked up 377 penalty minutes, the eighth-highest total in NHL history.
He did it in only 59 games.
Grimson was a guy that had the back of every player in the same color sweater every night.
Three times in his career, McRae surpassed 350 penalty minutes in a season.
Only four times in NHL history has a player accumulated over 400 penalty minutes in a single season. Schultz did it twice.
Peluso got his sweater bloody on a number of teams, and he had some epic boughts against some of the great fighters in NHL history.
Odjick once scored fewer goals—five—in an entire season as he averaged penalty minutes per game (371 PIM in 70 games in 1996-97).
He enjoyed beating people up and was the enforcer on some great Devils teams.
A big body that used his size well, his fists got a lot of use in his career.
Tocchet posted almost 1,000 points in the NHL in his career—and almost hit 3,000 penalty minutes.
His bouts with Cam Neely are legendary. Samuelsson wasn't always the cleanest player on the ice, but he handled the business end of the game when someone dropped the mitts.
Go to Boston.
Ask just about anyone who they'd want on their side of a fight.
Most would say Cam Neely.
One of the most lethal set of fists in NHL history, he posted 54 points and 352 penalty minutes from the blue line in 1988-89.
Yes, a goalie.
Throughout his career, Chelios earned the captain's "C" by sticking up for teammates. He never had a problem throwing down when the opportunity presented itself.
Many of his fights lasted about as long as his name, but Ray was a guy that didn't care how big his opponent was in any fight.
How many players in NHL history have had their number retired with 14 goals on their resume? That's how many Maggie scored in 589 games, all with the Blackhawks. He was—and still is—one of the most respected captains in the game and always stood up for his teammates, no matter how much size he was giving up.
In his best season, he scored 19 goals while stacking up 351 penalty minutes. But when you get a nickname like "Tiger," either your father loves golf or you're able to beat people up on the ice.
If you've watched hockey for longer than 15 minutes, you've undoubtedly seen some of Brashear's all-time fights. He is one of the great enforcers in the game's history.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Seibert may have been the only player that wasn't afraid of Eddie Shore. He was a tough, bruising defenseman who was also one of the first offensive weapons on the blue line. Unfortunately, his career will forever be remembered for the collision that ultimately cost Howie Morenz his life. He played 653 games for the Rangers, Blackhawks and Red Wings in his career.
Dale Hunter was a fierce competitor who threw down whenever he had to—which was often.
He's infamous for some awful decisions, but McSorley spent a big portion of his career protecting Wayne Gretzky.
Secord was a fascinatingly rare player who was the toughest guy on his roster, but who also put up huge offensive numbers when he was healthy. In 1982-83, with the Blackhawks, he scored 54 goals and piled up 180 penalty minutes in 80 games, and then had a 40-goal, 201-PIM season in 85-86 for Chicago.
The battles between Domi and Bob Probert were epic, and they usually went down early in any game they were both a part of. He piled up 3.515 penalty minutes in his NHL career, the third largest total in league history.
Probert unfortunately passed away last summer, but he was one of the all-time tough guys in the NHL. In 935 games, he accumulated exactly 3,300 penalty minutes before hanging up his skates.
Largely with the Boston Bruins from the mid-1920s into the late 1930s, Shore was the most feared player of his era. He racked up 1,037 penalty minutes in only 553 NHL games, and there were very, very few players that would step up when Shore wanted to drop the gloves.