Who is the NHL’s best fighting team? We rank them 1 to 30

Matt Larkin
Fight

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.

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NHL will be less safe if fighting disappears, say hockey insiders: THN survey

Jason Kay
iggy

I attended a game recently between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs that was about a 6.9 on the entertainment/intensity scale.

It wasn’t a snorefest, but it wasn’t the most riveting contest I’d ever witnessed and the typically reserved Air Canada Centre crowd was, typically, reserved.

Fleetingly, I wondered if we’d see a fight – something that would energize the building in a low-scoring affair. I quickly realized the odds of that happening were slim and none, and slim had just slipped out the side door for a butt.

This was the Red Wings, owners of one lonely fighting major on the season, versus the kinder, gentler Maple Leafs, who’d tussled four times in 20 games.

Was that absence of a fight threat a good or bad thing? Depends on your perspective. The industry experts we polled, as a group, expressed some concern over the declining trend.

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Is the hockey goon really dying this time?

Jason Kay
Goon 2

At the beginning of the 2006-07 season, the second in the so-called “new” NHL, The Hockey News proclaimed on a cover that goons were dying.

The game had changed. There was a crackdown on obstruction and an emphasis on wide-open play. One-dimensional fighters were having a difficult time cracking lineups. Some teams didn’t even carry fight-only thugs.

And the numbers bore out the perception. The previous campaign, there were 0.38 fights per game, down from 0.64 the year prior to the lockout and the lowest level since the late 1960s.

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In honor of THN’s new Fighting Issue, check out this insane brawl from 2006

Jared Clinton
Japan/China Brawl

With THN’s Fighting Issue hitting newsstands this week, it’s a good time to look back on one of the craziest on-ice brawls you will ever see.

Who knew that when it comes to hockey, Japan and China are rivals the likes of Canada and Russia.

This video, which comes from a user on video sharing site LiveLeak, shows an all out brawl between two teams – one reportedly from China and the other from Japan. There’s bodies flying during this all-out brawl:

(WARNING: Some language is not suitable for children) Read more

Stars’ Roussel, Blackhawks’ Shaw throw down in Fight of the Year candidate

Jared Clinton
Dallas Stars v Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw has fought twice in the last two seasons. Both bouts have been with Dallas Stars winger Antoine Roussel. Safe to say the two don’t like each other very much, and the pair renewed hostilities on Sunday night.

Midway through the first period, with the Stars up 2-1, Shaw came across behind Roussel, and whatever Shaw said certainly sparked something in his opponent. Roussel immediately turned, the gloves were off, and the two threw haymakers in a sure Fight of the Year candidate: Read more

Tarasenko, Weise channel inner Mr. Hockey, record Gordie Howe hat tricks

Jared Clinton
Dale Weise (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

It might be time we start wondering if there’s anything Vladimir Tarasenko won’t do this season. Thursday night, when the St. Louis Blues played host to the Nashville Predators, the Blues winger registered his second hat trick of the season, only this one was of the Gordie Howe variety.

The Blues goal-scoring sensation got the assist out of the way early in the game and would add the goal late in the second period. But the highlight, of course, is the “fight”: Read more

Hockey Canada will save a spot for Connor McDavid on WJC team

Ken Campbell
Connor McDavid (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

If Connor McDavid’s broken finger goes the distance and he’s out of action for six weeks, Hockey Canada is willing to wait and will save a spot for him on the Canadian team for the World Junior Championship.

The Erie Otters announced Wednesday night that McDavid suffered a fracture of the fifth metacarpal on his right hand – which basically means he broke his pinky finger – and is expected to be out of the lineup between five and six weeks. Six weeks from Wednesday is Dec. 24 and Canada opens its WJC schedule against Slovakia in Montreal Dec. 26.

Teams must finalize their 22-man rosters by 24 hours before their first game of the tournament, but an enormous factor working in McDavid’s favor is that teams are also allowed to keep one extra roster spot open that they can fill at any point in the tournament, and that player can play in any game provided he is added to the roster three hours before the game.

McDavid will be at camp when it opens Dec. 11 and by that time he will have been out of the lineup four weeks. Hockey Canada will monitor McDavid’s progress, but it’s clear it will keep the light on for McDavid as long as there is hope he can play at some point in the tournament. Even if he can’t participate in the final selection camp or any of the exhibition games, McDavid will be on the team if he’s healthy.

“We have a lot of good hockey players in Canada,” said Scott Salmond, vice-president of hockey operations and national teams for Hockey Canada. “But Connor is a very special player. We want a 100 per cent Connor McDavid in the lineup and we’ll do anything to make that happen.”

Hockey Canada has dealt with injury issues before, so this is not a unique situation for the World Junior team. Salmond said it’s too early to tell, but he hinted Canada would be prepared to go with McDavid even if he is not 100 percent healthy. If he misses the entire camp and the exhibition games, it means McDavid will be hitting the ground running, exposing himself to an incredibly high level of competition after sitting idle for six weeks. But that’s clearly a situation Hockey Canada is willing to endure for a player who was on a 170-point pace with the Erie Otters before he was injured.

“We’ll have to see how his stickhandling and puckhandling will look,” Salmond said, “but he’s such a special player, if he can come in and play, I can’t think of a situation where he wouldn’t be put in our lineup.”

Salmond said he was with World Junior coach Benoit Groulx and head scout Ryan Jankowski at the Subway Super Series game in Brandon Tuesday night when he learned of McDavid’s injury and called it a “double whammy” because the Western League team also lost the game. But he said after everyone processed the situation and spoke with the Otters, they feel confident McDavid will be able to play.

“I think that would be the best Christmas present for Canadian hockey fans,” Salmond said, “and for us.”