The role of the enforcer may slowly but surely be nearing extinction, but the history of the job will always remain ingrained in the fabric of one of the most violent team sports in the world.
For years, the enforced gig was one that was glorified - a man literally armored up, holding his twig more so as a weapon than as a hockey stick in his ham-like fists, with the sole purpose of striking fear into opponents and, when needed, doling out the requisite punishment for those who stepped out of line.
Today, the enforcer is viewed in a much different light. Often assumed to be a tormented soul, one dealing with a laundry list of mental issues while still having to go out every night and do something he despises so that he can keep a spot in the lineup and make a living.
The deaths of noted enforcers like Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak and Rick Rypien, among others, set off a chain reaction of events that have brought us to this point, where the role of the "fighter" has essentially disappeared from NHL rosters, give or take a few teams that still feel the need to keep some hired muscle on the end of their bench.
Years ago, though, these men were highly sought after. Every team had a tough guy, someone to stand up for the skilled players, someone to go on the ice and send a message, someone to start a ruckus when a game got out of hand.
Some of those men were legends of their craft - Bob Probert, Chris Nilan, Tiger Williams, Tie Domi, among many others.
Some...not so much. They were usually the punching bags for the guys listed above - so we decided to make a list of them (below).
15 Craig Berube
If you didn't know much about Craig Berube and you heard about his past as an NHL tough guy, and then saw him during his time behind the Flyers bench, you would assume Berube was a pretty mean customer back in the day.
Perhaps - but no man who enters fisticuffs on a hockey rink and goes for a kick to start the fight is going to earn any respect from fans and pundits, let alone the men he has to square off against every night.
Overall, Berube could handle himself - but he was a bit of a wild puncher with no real strategy going into fights. When he connected, he connected hard, but when he missed...he usually ended up on the bottom of the pile.
14 Shawn Antoski
13 Matthew Barnaby
S**t disturber? Yes. Agitator? Yes. Great fighter? Not quite.
Matthew Barnaby got into a lot of fights over the course of his career and while he carved out a place in NHL history as a guy who was able to get under the skin of virtually any opponent, oftentimes he would get his dinner served to him in the form of a fist to the face as a result of it.
While Barnaby got a lot of credit for being able to outlast opponents, he usually resorted to the old clutch-and-grab for as long as possible and waited for his opponent to tire out before making his move.
12 Sandy Moger
In a long line of Bruins goonery, Sandy Moger is near the bottom of the list and for good reason: he wasn't a very good fighter.
11 Keith Magnuson
Keith Magnuson should probably be a lot lower on this last based on the video evidence, but we'll cut him some slack since he usually took on some of the baddest men to ever lace them up in the NHL.
Why Magnuson ever thought taking on the Broad Street Bullies as many times as he did is beyond explanation, as everyone in the arena (and in the broadcast booth, if you listen to some of the clips closely) knew that he was going to get pummeled, no matter which Flyer he was facing.
10 Ed Hospodar
Ed Hospodar was a big guy and he had no problem handling guys like Garry Howatt or anyone else who couldn't truly overmatch him.
Watch Hospodar take on Clark Gillies, though, and you see Hospodar's true enforcing colors shine - in the worst way possible.
9 Gary Nylund
Watch Gary Nylund get laid out by Bob Probert on YouTube and it'll all make sense to you.
Nylund was a tough customer, but there's more to dropping the gloves that hanging on and ripping your opponent's jersey off his back. Probert taught Nylund that lesson the hard way.
8 Tom Kostopoulos
Bless his lion heart. Tom Kostopoulos would take on an enraged elephant in hand to hand combat if it meant defending a teammate.
7 Paul Baxter
6 Kelly Buchberger
You could tell Kelly Buchberger had a big set of stones, because he wasn't afraid to fight anyone, but you might wonder if he had much going on between the ears, because often times he made you scratch your head.
5 Joe Paterson
Hair grabbing. Wrestling. Latching on for dear life. You name it, Joe Paterson was good at it.
Fighting? Not so much.
4 Nick Kypreos
We'll give this much to Kyper - he fought his own battles and he backed down from nobody. Unfortunately, the man just wasn't cut out for the job.
3 Don Jackson
Watch some Don Jackson fight tapes - it'll make you question a couple of things.
First off, why did Don Jackson ever bother dropping the gloves and second, why on Earth did commentators continuously tout him as one of the best?
Stan Jonathan cranked him. Jim Peplinski beat him pretty good. Scott Stevens buried him. Craig Coxe knocked him on his rear-end! Jay Miller did the same.
2 Torrie Robertson
Watch a couple of Torrie Robertson fight videos on YouTube and you'll get the jist of why he's ranked this high pretty quickly.
Robertson had a bit of a "style," like most fighters do, but his wasn't overly impressive - a ton of grappling, a lot of latching on and way too much hugging. This usually took up the majority of the bout until his opponent (or the officials) got fed up of it or the guy he was fighting was able to get loose and clock him a few times.
1 Jay Caufield
Back in 1989, Jay Caufield got into it with Chris Nilan during a game between Caufield's Penguins and Nilan's Rangers - meaning Nilan was near the end of his brilliant tough guy career. The fight kind of sums up Jay Caufield's NHL fighting career.
Called out by many - including the color commentator calling the game that night - as nothing more than a grapple-and-wrestle fighter, Caufield solidified himself as one of the worst of all-time, repeatedly being used as a punching bag by much smaller fighters, such as Nilan, among others.
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