One thing everyone can agree about in the fighting debate: fisticuffs aren’t gone yet. Hockey is certainly trending that way, but fights still happen for now. So when they do, which team is most heavily armed to win a battle royale on a nightly basis? We set out to crown the best overall tough-guy team in the NHL.
Our data source was hockeyfights.com, which has documented decades of information. Players earn wins, losses and draws based on fan votes. With the help of our dedicated interns, Craig Hagerman and Namish Modi, we compiled the career record of every player who’s played a game this season, through the second week of November. Fights that didn’t have any votes were deemed no contest, as the sample size was large enough for us to throw them out. We included regular season scraps but also pre-season and post-season ones, because fights are fights, no matter when they happen. Even if you’re a star player shaking off summer rust, you don’t ease up in the pre-season when you’re protecting your own face.
We then summed the total records of the players on each active NHL roster to produce an aggregate record, which was converted to a points percentage. We awarded two points for a win and one point for a draw. At this stage in the calculations, we realized our overall team rankings skewed too heavily toward winning fights and not enough toward experience. Which enforcer would you fear more: a guy with two fights and two wins or a guy with 100 wins and 60 losses? So we multiplied our team points percentages by their players’ total number of fights to create a final score that combined fight proficiency with fight frequency.
We believe the rankings on the pages to follow accurately reflect the NHL’s glove-dropping hierarchy. The likes of San Jose and Boston are loaded with pugilists and finished high, whereas last-place Detroit throws punches as often as Gandhi did.