Fighting is slowly but surely disappearing from NHL hockey, and one can argue that’s a very good thing. With what we know regarding the long-term effects of brain injuries, it only makes sense. In addition to the post-concussion issues, depression has become a chronic problem for many former NHL pugilists, with several tragically taking their own lives in recent years.
All health reasoning aside, it could actually be good for the quality of the on-ice product. In the past, teams have dressed one or two bruisers every game just in case things got a little messy. This is fine for the game if these players also come equipped with the requisite skills to keep up with the pace of the NHL game, but all too often these enforcers don’t have what it takes.
Today’s list pays, erm, “homage” to those folks. They’re of a dying breed in today’s NHL; it’s not too often you can find teams that use valuable roster spots on one-dimensional fighters. It still happens, though, as a few current NHLers even found their way onto our list today.
The only criteria a player needed to meet in order to qualify for the list: they needed to have played at least one full season’s worth of NHL games (82 games). They also needed to be not great at actual hockey (by NHL standards), but it turns out a lot of the enforcers in the past weren’t too adept at putting the puck in the net, as you’re about to see for yourself.
15. Mike Rupp
Mike Rupp racked up 80 regular season fights during his NHL career, which spanned from 2002-03 through 2013-14. Rupp saw action in 610 regular season games, which is impressive considering his limitations on the ice.
The former first-round draft pick scored just 54 goals and 45 assists in his NHL career, meaning he didn’t even crack the 100-point barrier. He did, however, have four consecutive seasons in which he had 12 fights or more.
14. Luke Gazdic
Luke Gazdic is one of the few players on this list who still occupies a somewhat-regular spot on an NHL roster. The Oiler has played in roughly half of Edmonton’s games this year, and he has not been very productive to date. In 134 NHL games, all with the Oilers, Gazdic has recorded just eight points.
According to hockeyfights.com, Gazdic has fought 26 times in the regular season, which works out to about a fight every five games. A pretty high rate when you consider he averages well under 10 minutes a night.
13. Paul Bissonnette
BizNasty is of course everybody’s favorite (former) NHLer to follow on Twitter, but there is a pretty good reason he’s been plying his trade in the AHL for the past few seasons. Over the course of his 202 game NHL career, Bissonnette had 52 fights.
That’s a fight every four games or so, but the more shocking stat is perhaps his inability to produce. The Penguins draft pick recorded just seven goals and 22 points in his career. In addition to his 52 NHL fights, he’s racked up 78 fights in the AHL.
12. Zack Stortini
Zack Stortini was charged with protecting the young Oilers stars of the late 2000s (LOL), and during that time he was always among the league leaders in fights by the end of the season. In 257 games of NHL work, “Huggie Bear” (the not-so-endearing nickname given to him by Oilers fans) racked up 81 fights.
257 games is a decent NHL career, but to be fair it likely wouldn’t have been so long if he was on a better team. Stortini recorded just 41 points before being relegated to the AHL for good (where he still fights a lot).
11. Brian McGrattan
Brian McGrattan is a scary-looking dude. I wouldn’t fight him, but I don’t need to in order to keep my job. He was able to convince his peers to fight him 73 times throughout his 317-game NHL career.
McGratton intimidated with the best of them, but the fact remains is that he scored at a clip with the worst of them. He only garnered 27 points in his career, which means he would have had to play over 1,000 games to reach the 100-point milestone.
10. Jody Shelley
Jody Shelley got in 173 fights in his NHL career, which is a staggering number. While his fighting frequency is right up there with the all-time leaders, his point production is right down there among the lowest of the low.
Shelley carved out a decent little career for himself, playing in 627 NHL games for four different teams, but in those 657 games he only manage 18 goals and 54 points.
9. Kevin Westgarth
Kevin Westgarth most recently played professional hockey for the Belfast Giants in the EIHL, but he did squeeze in 169 NHL games before defecting to Europe. In those 169 games, Westgarth racked up 32 regular season fights playing for three teams.
Westgarth struggled to keep up with the speed of the NHL game, however, and as a result he only produced 16 points in his entire career. Seven of those came in his final 36 games with the Flames, though, so perhaps he was starting to turn the corner.
8. Darcy Hordichuk
It looks as though it has been taken down, but Darcy Hordichuk used to have his own website when he played in the NHL. It was great because you could click on links that would lead to video of all his fights, all his goals, and all his scoring chances. They were called “Hordichucks” (fights), “Hordichances,” and “Hordigoals.”
Needless to say, the “Hordigoals” archive was a little bare (he had 20 career goals). He did have 129 regular season fights over his 542 NHL games, so that section of the site was packed full.
7. George Parros
George Parros is an intelligent man, and he knew that he wouldn’t have much of an NHL career based purely on his skill. That’s why he decided to fight his way to one, and in his defense, he was pretty successful, playing in a total of 474 regular season games.
The Princeton graduate racked up a staggering 158 fights in his career, which works out to one fight every 3.3 games. His 36 points, however, work out to a point every 13 games or so.
6. Raitis Ivanans
Raitis Ivanans, like so many other fighters, was forced to retire due to concussion issues a few seasons back. He was in his early 30s at the time, and he’d managed to find his way onto an NHL lineup 282 times before calling it quits.
Ivanans was one of the most feared enforcers during his relatively short stint in the NHL, and in his career he fought 55 times. His offensive totals of 12 goals and 18 points, however, paint a pretty clear picture of his scoring limitations.
5. Colton Orr
As the role of the NHL enforcer slowly fades into oblivion, as does the NHL career of Colton Orr. He’s currently playing for Calgary’s farm club in Stockton, trying to fight his way to one last chance in the big league.
The 33-year-old winger played 477 games in the NHL, so even if he doesn’t make it back that’s a pretty good career for a man of his skill level. Orr fought 119 times in the NHL, but he pitched in just 24 points to go along with his scraps.
4. Tony Twist
Tony Twist knew his role even when he played junior for the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL where he racked up 226 PIMs in just 55 games. He punched his way to a solid NHL career, seeing action in 445 games for the St. Louis Blues and Quebec Nordiques.
In that time, Twist fought 104 times, which is about one fight every 4.4 games. He only scored 10 goals over that span, however, which works out to an average of less than two goals per 82 games. Remember, Twist played in an era where scoring was at an all-time high, so that’s spectacularly low.
3. Stu Grimson
Stu Grimson jumped up a few spots on this list purely based on his name alone. Based on his credentials, it’s tough to say he’d have slipped too far anyway. The “Grim Reaper” saw action in 729 NHL games, beginning in the late 1980s through to the early 2000s.
That’s a long career for a fighter, but nonetheless good old Stu didn’t crack the 40 point barrier in his career (17-22-39). His fight count, however, got to 211 by the time he called it quits—more than anyone else on our list.
2. Steve MacIntyre
Steve MacIntyre has just 17 NHL fights to his credit, but he only played in 92 games so that’s actually quite a few. It’s even more when you consider the fact that he would, more often than not, play fewer than five minutes per night.
MacIntyre was almost entirely devoid of offense. He played in parts of five seasons, and only managed to score a goal in one of them (he scored two in 2008-09). He added two assists to make his career total a whopping four points.
1. John Scott
With all the hoopla surrounding John Scott these days, how could we not have him number one on our list?
As you’re well aware by now, the NHL has seemingly orchestrated a way to avoid letting John Scott play in the NHL All-Star game in a few weeks in Nashville. While we disagree with this shifty maneuver from the NHL (they dug their own grave with the fan voting system, not to mention Scott was such a good sport about it all), saying that Scott would stick out like a sore thumb in a three-on-three All-Star game is an understatement.
Throughout his NHL career to this point, the 33-year-old has racked up just 11 points to go with his 542 PIMs in 285 games. He has 38 career NHL fights.
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