Hardest NHL Hits: The 30 Biggest Checks in Hockey History

Jason Sapunka@moreSapunkaCorrespondent IINovember 22, 2011

Hardest NHL Hits: The 30 Biggest Checks in Hockey History

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    This season's early frontrunners for hit of the year include Dion Phaneuf's destruction of Stephan Da Costa.

    Additionally, Zac Rinaldo of the Philadelphia Flyers took out Drew Doughty and Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators ran over Clayton Stoner of the Minnesota Wild.

    Though all of the hits are beautiful, clean hits that exemplify the physical nature that only hockey can produce, none compare to the NHL's all-time greatest.

Honorable Mention: Cal Clutterbuck Hip Checked by the Boards

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    No, this is not really one of the greatest hits of all time.

    But, anyone who knows Cal Clutterbuck's history of borderline hits will be happy to see this.

    Clutterbuck misses a hit and takes himself out of the play instead.

No. 30: "They're Going Home!"

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    The year was 1976.

    The Philadelphia Flyers were two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, and on their way to a 51-win season.

    The Soviet Union had that hockey team which made a loss to the United States Olympic team seem like a miracle. Many of the players from that Soviet team were placed on a "Red Army" squad that took on four NHL teams. The Flyers were the only team to win the game.

    Their victory strategy?

    Run the Soviets out of the building. Literally.

    This minute of physical play, culminating with Ed Van Impe's hit on Valeri Kharlamov, caused the team to stop playing hockey and leave the ice.

    They eventually came back and finished the game once they found out nobody would be paying them if they left. The Flyers dominated, winning 4-1 and saving the pride of the NHL.

No. 29: Milan Lucic Breaks Glass with a Hit on Mike Van Ryn

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    It takes a lot to break glass which is meant to withstand pucks blasted at 100 mph, but after a while, the right hit in the right spot can shatter the sideboards.

    That's what happened when Boston's Milan Lucic hit Mike Van Ryn of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

No. 28: Mark Messier and Paramedics Take out Mike Modano

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    What might look like a suspendable offense in today's NHL was simply a great hit in the days of Mark Messier.

    Modano is looking down as Messier comes across and drops his shoulder, making contact with the head.

    Modano was taken off the ice on a stretcher. As he was being put in an ambulance, the paramedics dropped the stretcher.

No. 27: Rob Ray on Cam Neely

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    The actual hit isn't seen until a replay at 1:15 of this video.

    Neely was carrying the puck towards the net with his head down. Ray makes shoulder to shoulder contact from the side, causing both players to fly through the air and hit the ice hard.

    Neely and the Bruins wasted no time in reacting to the hit.

No. 26: Scott Stevens Hits Tie Domi; Mike Peluso Pays for It

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    Two NHL icons are involved in this hit: the hardest-hitting checker of all time and (arguably) the NHL's greatest chin of all time.

    Domi could take a punch, but no tough guy wants to be hit hard.

    Stevens takes out Domi with a hip check. Domi immediately looks for a fight.

    He gets one with fighter Mike Peluso, hammering him.

No. 25: Jim Schoenfeld Checks Wayne Cashman Through the Boards

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    Go down to the local rink and try opening the zamboni doors.

    If you do not know how, you will probably pull aside the locking bar, pull on the door and fail to open. This is because there are also mechanisms which keep the doors locked in to the arena floor.

    In other words, a hit like this will probably never happen again in a well-operated NHL arena. However, a loose door was present in this game, resulting in the peculiar circumstance.

No. 24: Dion Phaneuf's Hit on Kyle Okposo Causes Brawl

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    Want a tip?

    If you're going to try getting by one defenseman with lateral movement, make sure the other one isn't lining you up to ruin your day.

    Kyle Okposo made this mistake, paying for it when Dion Phaneuf (one of the most effective hard hitters in today's NHL) knocked him down.

    Admirably, two Islanders jumped off the bench to defend their teammate in this preseason game.

No. 23: Todd Gill Makes Doug Wilson Spin

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    Usually when a man does a full 360 degree turn on ice skates, he's in a figure skating contest...the exception is here, when Doug Wilson gets lit up by Todd Gill.

No. 22: Scott Stevens Begins a Highlight Reel

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    Get used to seeing Scott Stevens in this countdown. Here is the first of several knockout-caliber checks he delivered in his Hall of Fame career.

    Bob Bassen made the same mistake as Okposo.

No. 21: The Great One on the Great One

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    Wayne Gretzky wasn't floored many times in his career, but this one was a beauty. Bill McCreary put the NHL's greatest scorer of all time on his back, shaking up No. 99.

No. 20: Mike Richards Sends Ronald Petrovicky Flying

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    The hit actually occurs during an offsides call. Ronald Petrovicky looks down at the puck, plays it (with his teammate already in the zone), and a young Mike Richards makes him pay.

No. 19: Dion Phaneuf Launches Denis Hamel

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    This may be the greatest check of Phaneuf's career so far.

    Hamel attempts to jump around the defenseman, but gets sent flying instead.

No. 18: Scott Stevens on Shane Willis

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    Stevens knocking out another player with a shoulder check.

    Have you learned to keep your heads up yet?

No. 17: Marc-Andre Bergeron Flips Brendan Morrow

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    Some of the other hits may have been harder, but Morrow does a complete front flip at the hands of Bergeron.

No. 16: Eric Lindros Crunches Vladimir Konstantinov

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    The huge Lindros used his 6'4" 240-pound frame to drive Konstantinov into the boards.

    Look near the left blue line at the start of the video to catch the live feed.

    As Konstantinov looks down for the puck, Lindros hits him in the chest with his left shoulder. Konstantinov's head smashes against the glass as a result.

No. 15: Trevor Linden Puts Jeff Norton Through the Glass

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    Not only does this hit shatter the glass like the Lucic hit on Van Ryn, but Norton ends up over the boards and in the stands.

No. 14: Geoff Courtnall Breaks Jeremy Roenick's Jaw

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    Courtnall lines up the hit on Roenick, and connects once the Blackhawks' forward makes his shot.

    Roenick broke his jaw on the play, something that would happen again later in his career. When he was with the Philadelphia Flyers, a shot hit him in the face.

No. 13: Vladmir Konstantinov Flips Claude Lemieux

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    The birth of a rivalry may not have actually been the event that happened two nights later.

    Konstantinov may have drawn the ire of Colorado pest Claude Lemieux with this hit.

No. 12: Vladimir Konstantinov Ruins Dale Hawerchuk and the Flyers

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    Another great hit from Konstantinov, this one in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    Less than 30 seconds later, the Red Wings scored, securing a win and 3-0 series lead in the series.

No. 11: Kevin Miller Destroys Thomas Steen

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    Do not, under any circumstances, admire your pass after skating with your head down.

    This is similar to the Richards-Petrovicky hit, except Steen was far worse off.

No. 10: Wendel Clark Puts Bruce Bell on a Stretcher

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    Wendel Clark, an exemplary power forward, sent Bruce Bell down to the ice with a monster hit.

No. 9: Scott Stevens on Slava Kozlov

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    Remember the tip from slide eight?

No. 8: Niklas Kronwall Impolitely Meets Martin Havlat

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    Niklas Kronwall is one of the hardest hitting players in today's NHL.

    Look at Havlat 45 seconds into this video. You do not want to feel like that.

    Havlat, focusing on the puck, had no idea that Kronwall was bearing down on the area as well.

No. 7: Darius Kasparitis Causes Eric Lindros' First Concussion

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    That's what it looks like when 240 pounds of man gets stood up.

    Lindros' head does not actually get hit here, but the sheer force of the collision does the damage.

    His career would never be the same again.

No. 6: Good Night, Larry Playfair

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    John Wensink knows the damage he did after this hit. Immediately after applying this forearm-to-chest hit, Playfair is done.

    Wensink does him the favor of waving over a trainer.

No. 5: Larry Robinson's Hit on Gary Dornhoefer Stops Play for Board Repairs

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    Dornhoefer gets absolutely smashed by Robinson here.

    Look at the boards around the 20 second mark, and Bob Miller's comments can be understood. The dislodged board is visible.

No. 4: Sami Kapanen Can't Skate After Darcy Tucker Hits Him

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    Give Kapanen credit for attempting to keep going, but he was done after the hit by Tucker.

    Luckily for Kapanen and the Flyers, Jeremy Roenick won the series in overtime later that night.

No. 3: Brian Campbell Makes Rick Jeanneret Lose It by Destroying R.J. Umberger

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    Sometimes it's not even safe to break out of your own zone. During the playoffs, everybody hustles harder than ever, driven by the desire for a Stanley Cup.

    So, Campbell was right on Umberger when the young forward was looking down for the puck.

    Umberger's wind was completely knocked out of him.

No. 2: Scott Stevens Puts Paul Kariya on the Floor

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    The Mighty Ducks thought it was late, but no penalty was called.

    Anyone familiar with hockey during the time knows the story: the Devils' captain seemingly took Kariya, the Anaheim captain, out of the game.

    However, Kariya came back and played.

    Not only did he play, but he scored. Later in the period, he gave the Ducks a 4-1 lead and effectively clinched Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.

No. 1: Scott Stevens Ends Eric Lindros' Career as a Flyer

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    Stevens has five videos in this countdown, which are just a portion of his career highlight reel.

    At this point, Eric Lindros had already suffered four concussions since the one resulting from the Kasparaitis hit.

    During the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals, Eric Lindros returned from a concussion in Game 6, scoring a goal in a 2-1 loss.

    In just his second game back, the Flyers were down by a goal early in the first period. Attempting to cut across the middle (a mistake so many have made with Stevens on the ice), Lindros looks down at the puck while deking.

    As he lost control, Stevens attempted to apply a shoulder hit, but caught Lindros right in the head. The hit silenced one of the most passionate arenas in hockey and set a tone for the rest of the night.

    Philadelphia was eliminated and No. 88 would never play with the Flyers again.


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