There are two types of people in this world (yes, I've probably used this sentence in many intros before).
There are jocks and there are smarties. But when it comes to the NHL, there are two types of players: There are skilled guy who can score and there are guys who only use their fists and not so much their brains on the ice.
When looking at the biggest goons in the NHL, it's easy to pay attention to the 22 NHL players who've racked up at least 2,500 career penalties in minutes. But some of these guys managed to spend so much time in the penalty box yet also produce Hockey Hall of Fame careers.
And then, let's be honest, most guys who spend over 2,500 career minutes in the box clearly aren't being asked to score much. Their job is to just fight, scare the other team and give your team momentum. We take a look at all 22 NHL players to hit the milestone and rank them based on their success.
22 Rob Ray (3,207)
Rob Ray (Pictured Left) didn't have the biggest frame at 6-foot, 220 pounds, but he surely loved to use his fists any time he had the opportunity. He was a classic tough guy who had a hockey stick in his hands and did nothing more. In 900 NHL games, he scored just 41 goals and 91 points. He racked up 3,207 career penalty minutes, good for sixth all-time.
But Ray is most famous for laying it out on a Quebec Nordiques fan during a 1992 game. This guy came onto the ice and approached the Sabres bench, only to be met with a handful of brutal punches from Ray.
Though Ray managed to last two decades in the NHL, he didn't do a whole lot to help his team. He never scored that much and always put his squad on the penalty kill. Easily the worst man to reach 2,500 PIMs.
21 Gino Odjick (2,567)
Though he didn't really accomplish a whole lot in terms of scoring, Gino Odjick is one of the most beloved Vancouver Canucks of all-time. The team drafted him 86th-overall in 1990, and he wound up playing eight seasons with the team. Odjick managed to hit the 300 penalty minutes marks in three seasons with Vancouver.
He sits at 17th all-time in penalty minutes with 2,567. The funny thing is he only played in 605 NHL games, which was at least 200 less than most guys to accomplish the 2,500 feat. Odjick scored just 64 goals and 173 points in his career. But his most productive season was a memorable one. In 1993-94, he scored 16 goals and 29 points and the Canucks fell just one game short of winning their first-ever Stanley Cup.
20 Tim Hunter (3,146)
Tim Hunter has had a successful career in the hockey industry. He's currently head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. He also has experience as an assistant coach of the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple leafs. It's safe to say that Hunter's time as a coach has been far more successful than what he accomplished on the ice.
Oddly enough, Hunter was also nominated twice for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy twice, which is given to player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication". You wouldn't expect that for a guy who's eighth all-time in career penalty minutes with 3,146.
Hunter accomplished all those penalties in 815 games while scoring just 62 goals and 138 points. Not exactly great numbers.
19 Craig Berube (3,149)
Craig Berube (Coach Above) is best known today as the former Philadelphia Flyers head coach who got them to the playoffs in 2014 after taking over for the fired Peter Laviolette in the midst of the season. Berube was fired after the 2014-15 season, finishing with a 75-58-28 in just under two seasons as head coach.
But he was also one of the biggest tough guys in the NHL. The undrafted enforcer played in the NHL from 1986 to 2004, registering 3,149 penalty minutes that places him seventh all-time. And no, Berube didn't score much either. He had just 61 goals and 159 points in 1,054 NHL games.
His best season was 1989-90, where Berube scored four goals and 18 points. He also had troubles finding a home, being traded three times in a seven-month span when the 1990-91 season ended.
18 Ken Daneyko (2,519)
It sounds odd putting a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils on this list. But keep in mind that it was the likes of Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer that won those championships, not Ken Daneyko. He spent his entire career with New Jersey, playing with them from 1983-2003. Daneyko registered 2,519 penalty minutes in 1,283 games. He also had just 36 career goals and 178 points.
To be fair to Daneyko, his toughness and physicality was a huge reason Jacques Lemaire's creation of the infamous neutral zone trap was successful. It was nearly impossible to solve New Jersey's defence, and Daneyko definitely helped shut down some of the top scoring machines in the '90s.
But his lack of scoring scoring shows that Daneyko wasn't really all that good.
17 Donald Brashear (2,634)
When I was just a child, I asked my very smart hockey brother who the worst player in the NHL is. Only then when I grew up did I realize that there is no clear-cut answer nor criteria for deciding who the worst player in the league is. Nonetheless, he told me that player was Donald Brashear.
The 6-feet-3, 240-pound enforcer had an infamous incident with Marty McSorley in a 2000 game, when Brashear was on the Canucks. McSorley and Brashear got into a fight, and the former later followed the latter and hit him across the head with his stick. Brashear suffered a seizure and concussion, but would recover shortly after. McSorley never played an NHL game and the incident went to court in B.C. He was found guilty but sentenced to just 18 months of probation.
That didn't stop Brashear from fighting and intimidating others,. racking up 2,634 career penalty minutes while scoring 85 goals and 205 points.
16 Chris Nilan (3,043)
No American has spent more quality time in a penalty box than Chris Nilan (Pictured Left). His 3,043 career penalty minutes rank ninth all-time. Nilan was such a great fighter that he was nicknamed "Knuckles", and had a documentary made about his career called The Last Gladiators.
Nilan was drafted 231st-overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1978. He was a key part of their 1986 Stanley Cup championship team, scoring 19 goals and 34 points while racking up 274 penalty minutes. Despite a couple of promising seasons, Nilan only ended up scoring 110 goals and 225 points in 688 games.
Just how tough and intimidating was Nilan? There's a well-known photo of him and infamous Boston mobster, James "Whitey" Bulger standing with the Stanley Cup together. The relationship? Nilan's wife is the daughter of Whitey's former girlfriend, Theresa Stanley.
15 Joe Kocur (2,519)
The Detroit Red Wings drafted Joe Kocur 88th-overall in the 1983 NHL Draft. Though he wasn't much of a scorer, he had a huge impact in the revival of the long-time struggling Detroit Red Wings. Kocur and fellow enforcer Bob Probert formed the infamous "Bruise Brothers", duo. We'll get to Probert later.
Kocur spent most of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, then moved to the New York Rangers during the 1990-91 season. Kocur was part of the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup championship team. He later found himself back in Detroit for the 1996-97 season.
Kocur became a key enforcer and shut down some of the league's best lines, as the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998. Kocur only had 80 goals and 162 points in 821 games, however. His 2,519 penalty minutes place him 20th all-time.
14 Marty McSorley (3,381)
Though he was far from being a star, Marty McSorley had one of the most amazing and fun jobs in NHL history: To protect Wayne Gretzky.
McSorley was the Edmonton Oilers enforcer and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 1987 and 1988. His primary goal was to scare and attack opponents who wanted a piece of The Great One. He was part of the Gretzky trade to Los Angeles, ensuring the GOAT had some safety. But McSorley's career is highlighted by the incident with Donald Brashear and an illegal stick during the 1993 Stanley Cup Final.
The Los Angeles Kings led the Canadiens 1-0 in the Stanley Cup series. With L.A. up 2-1 late in the third period, McSorley was caught with an illegal curve on his stick. Montreal tied the game on the powerplay, won in overtime and finished off the Kings in five games.
McSorley definitely had a controversial career, but that's what you can expect from a man with just 108 goals, 359 points and 3,381 penalty minutes -- the fourth-most in league history.
13 Chris Neil (2,515 And Counting)
Chris Neil is one of the most beloved players in Ottawa Senators history. He recently got an emotional celebration for playing in his 1,000th NHL game. Few NHLers of his era have had a job so easy: Just fight and take silly penalties for whatever reason. Neil isn't that big for a tough guy at 6-foot-1, 2006 pounds, but he's at 2,515 career penalty minutes and he has room to move up the list.
He hasn't scored more than 33 points in a season, which took place in 2005-06. Neil will soon pass both Kocur and Daneyko (each at 2,519), and that'll place him 20th all-time. At 37 years of age, Neil is running out of time to move up on the all-time penalty minute leaders list.
He's at just 56 penalty minutes through 47 games this season -- far and away a career-low. But passing 16th-place Willi Plett (2,572), isn't out of the question. Meanwhile, let's see if he can also build upon his 112 career goals and 249 points.
12 Dave Manson (2,792)
Dave Manson was drafted 11th-overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1985. He wound up playing for six different franchises throughout his career -- and wreaked havoc on the ice for every single one of them. He showed promise early in his career -- scoring 18 goals and 54 points in the 1988-89 season. Manson also had a pair of 15-goal seasons with the Edmonton Oilers.
But then Manson turned away from the goal-scoring and became nothing more than a pest. He seemed to spend more time in the penalty box than on the ice, hitting the 100-penalty minute mark on a constant basis. He even put up 205 PIMS with the Winnipeg Jets in the 1995-96 season.
He's 13th all-time in career penalty minutes with 2,792. Manson also scored 102 goals and 390 points.
11 Matthew Barnaby (2,562)
It's safe to assume the Buffalo Sabres knew what they were getting when they drafted Matthew Barnaby (Pictured Left) 83rd-overall in 1992. He had led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in penalty minutes twice. Barnaby wasted no time making a name for himself in the NHL, registering an astonishing 335 penalty minutes during the 1995-96 season.
Barnaby was one of the league's first ultra pests when his career began. He wound up playing for seven NHL teams and wasn't much of a scorer. His best season was 1996-97, scoring 19 goals and 43 points. His physical style helped Buffalo make a surprise appearance in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, but they lost to the Dallas Stars in six games.
He scored 113 goals and 300 points in 834 games while finishing with 2,562 penalty minutes as well.
10 Willi Plett (2,572)
Wili Plett's parents moved to Paraguay to get away from the violence and tragedies of World War II. That's where he was born, and his family soon settled in Canada. Plett was drafted by the Atlanta Flames 80th-overall in in 1975. He actually became one of the league's top power forwards shortly after joining the team.
He scored 33 goals and 56 points during the 1976-77 season. Plett followed it up with consecutive 43-point seasons. He then had a career year in Calgary, scoring 38 goals and 68 points. He scored 59 points the following season and tallied 25 goals in 1982-83 with the Minnesota North Stars.
And these fancy totals came despite Plett having to spend so much time in the penalty box. He hit the 200 penalty minutes mark seven times. In 1983-84, he registered 316 career penalty minutes. Plett finished with 222 goals and 437 points in 834 games. Plett's 2,572 PIMS place him 16th all-time.
9 Tie Domi (3,515)
Tie Domi was certainly small for an NHL player at 5-feet-8, but he did weigh 213 pounds. This was one guy that you did not want to mess with.
Domi was a fan favorite with the Toronto Maple Leafs, whom he played with from 1994-95 to 2005-06. He was never much of a scorer, never topping more than 15 goals and 29 points in a season (accomplished in 2002-03). But Domi's style of play was key for the Maple Leafs in the playoffs, who reached the Eastern Conference Final in 1999 and 2002.
He finished with 104 goals and 245 points in 1,040 games. Domi's 3,515 penalty minutes also place him third all-time. Unsurprisingly, he's the Leafs all-time leader in penalty minutes too. That's saying a lot when you consider they're a century-old franchise.
8 Bob Probert (3,300)
Perhaps no enforcer in NHL history was as terrifying as Bob Probert. He stood at 6-3, 230 pounds. He's the Detroit Red Wings all-time leader in penalty minutes with 2,090. And this is a franchise over a century old, too.
Probert and Joe Kocur terrorized opponents as the Bruise Brothers with their heavyweight styles. Probert was by far the most dominant fighter we've seen in the history of hockey. Some of his fights were more memorable than anything you saw in Las Vegas -- including a 1:40 minute fight with fellow enforcer Marty McSorley.
Probert could also score when called upon. He scored 29 goals and 62 points during the 1987-88 and 20 goals during the 1991-92 season. Probert finished with 163 goals and 384 points in 935 games. Probert is fifth all-time in penalty minutes with 3,300.
7 Dave 'Tiger' Williams (3,966)
If your nickname is Tiger and you're a professional NHL team, you better have good reason for it. Dave 'Tiger' Williams sure does, because he's the NHL's all-time penalty minutes leader with 3,966. For what it's worth, the next closest sits at 3,565, and he played 445 games. His identity? We'll get there soon.
Williams spent seemingly a whole game in the penalty box, but he could also use his stick for more than agitating and taking penalties. He was a four-time 20-goal scorer and even potted 35 tallies and 62 points in the 1980-81 season. Williams also somehow managed 351 penalty minutes in 1977-78 as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Along with his penalty minutes, Williams also scored 241 goals and 513 points in 962 NHL games.
6 Rick Tocchet (2,972)
The Philadelphia Flyers drafted the enforcer 121st-overall in 1983. It didn't take long until Rick Tocchet (Coach Above) became a well-respected power forward, though. He broke out in 1986-87 with 21 goals and 49 points. The following season, Tocchet scored 31 goals and 64 points. Tocchet didn't stop there, scoring 45-36-81, 37-59-96 and 40-31-71 over the next three seasons.
Tocchet also won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. After a couple of off seasons, he had a career season in 1992-93, finishing with 48 goals and 109 points. But oddly enough, Tocchet's scoring went way downhill after a seeming breakout season.
He finished with a respectable 440 goals and 952 points in 1,144 games. He's 10th-all time in career penalty minutes with 2,972.
5 Gary Roberts (2,560)
Gary Roberts (Pictured Left) should be considered one of the more underrated players in NHL history. He played with six teams in a career that began in 1986 and ended in 2009. Roberts' first few seasons saw inconsistency, but he broke out in 1989-90 with 39 goals and 72 points -- a year after helping the Calgary Flames win their first Stanley Cup.
Two seasons later, Roberts had his most impressive campaign. He finished with 53 goals and 90 points in just 76 games. Roberts became a constant 20-goal scorer through much of his career, but that was only half his job. The other was to be as irritating as possible towards other teams.
He is 19th all-time in penalty minutes with 2,560. Roberts also scored 438 goals and 910 points in 1,224 NHL games.
4 Pat Verbeek (2,905)
Pat Verbeek had to go through the underdog label to become an NHL star. He was just 5-feet-9, 190 pounds. Verbeek was drafted 43rd-overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1982, but appeared in just six games during his rookie season. In year two, Verbeek finally began to show the world who he was.
He scored 20 goals and 47 points in 1983-84, and continued to get better from there. Verbeek scored 40-plus goals in 1987-88, 1989-90 and 1990-91. He became a reliable 30-goal and 50-point player but also frustrated his opponents. He scored 522 goals and 1,063 points in 1,424 games.
Also, only 10 guys have more career penalty minutes than Verbeek, who finished with 2,905. His efforts were rewarded in 1999 when he won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars.
3 Dale Hunter (3,565)
Hard to believe that the man who is second all-time in penalty minutes was listed at just 5-10, 200 pounds. Dale Hunter was an extremely rare talent; he could score a ton and take a ton of penalties. Only Tiger Williams has more penalty minutes than Hunter, even though Hunter played 445 games.
Hunter was as consistent of a scorer as it came. He scored at least 20 goals all but two years from 1983-84 to 1992-93. Hunter also put up at least 200 penalty minutes every season from 1980-81 to 1985-86 and 1987-88 to 1991-92.
He finished with 3,565 penalty minutes which will likely forever keep him at second all-time. Hunter also scored 323 goals and 1,020 points. He is now coaching the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
2 Scott Stevens (2,785)
No NHLer delivered more vicious open-ice hits than the long-time New Jersey captain. Scott Stevens joined New Jersey in 1991, and it changed the history of the NHL landscape. Stevens and fellow Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer formed arguably the greatest defensive pairing of all-time. On top of that, the Devils had Martin Brodeur and won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
Stevens scored decently, but not at an extremely high rate -- 196 goals and 908 points in 1,635 games. But it's easy to overlook the incredible work he did as a pure shutdown defenceman. New Jersey upset Detroit in the 1995 Stanley Cup Final by implementing the neutral zone trap -- making it nearly impossible for the offence to come through. Stevens sits 12th all-time in penalty minutes with 2,785.
There's only one guy in the 2,500 club that did better.
1 Chris Chelios (2,891)
Chris Chelios is arguably the greatest American NHLer of all-time. He had a remarkable career that began in 1983 and ended in 2010. The 11-time All-Star won three Norris Trophies and three Stanley Cups -- one with Montreal in 1986 and two with Detroit (in 2002 and 2008). Chelios scored 185 goals and 948 points in 1,651 games.
Ken Campbell from The Hockey News also ranked Chelios as the 37th-greatest NHL player of all time, and cited it all perfectly:
"The ultimate junkyard dog, Chelios played at an elite level for longer than any other defenseman in the history of the game."
This man was able to shut down the league's best forwards for over two-and-a-half decades. Chelios was able to score and dominate so much despite spending 2,891 minutes in the penalty box -- good for 12th all-time.
He's one of the very rare Hall of Famers who spent lots of time in the box yet also made a huge impact on the ice every time.
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