Bodog’s 7 Best NHL Fights of All Time
It’s incredible how much skill there is on display in the NHL right now. Players are bigger, faster, stronger, and better-trained than ever before. NHL odds are also better than ever before and add excitement to the game. But hockey is still a rough sport, and while there are certainly fewer fights these days, they still happen – roughly once every five games. Let’s take a moment to appreciate these gladiators with Bodog Sportsbook’s seven best NHL fights of all time.
1. Bob Probert vs. Tie Domi (February 9, 1992)
It’s difficult to pick just one Bob Probert fight – we have another one coming up – but this is one of the most iconic moments in NHL history. Probert (Detroit Red Wings) and Domi (New York Rangers) would square off for the first of nine times in their long careers, fittingly enough at Madison Square Garden. After almost a minute of carnage, the two combatants were separated, and Domi made the universal “title belt” gesture to the rabid New York crowd.
This fight was so epic, it sparked a larger brawl between the Red Winds and Rangers. It was 9:37 of the first period; Gerard Gallant and Paul Broten exchanged pleasantries, as did Steven Chiasson and Joe Cirella. Gallant, Chiasson and Cirella all received game misconducts, then Probert and Domi received an additional 10 minutes each in the second period. Final score: Detroit 5, New York 5.
2. Stan Jonathan vs. Pierre Bouchard (May 21, 1978)
If you’re a hockey fan of a certain age, this might be your No. 1 fight. The stakes couldn’t have been much higher and the NHL betting was the talk of the town(s): It was Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, with Montreal up two games to one, and these were Don Cherry’s Bruins – featuring the likes of Terry O’Reilly, John Wensink and Mike Milbury.
He may have been 5-foot-8, but Stan Jonathan was the biggest pest of them all. He and the 6-foot-2 Bouchard were once again part of a larger donnybrook between these bitter Original Six rivals; Jonathan left Bouchard’s face a bloody mess, and the Bruins went on to beat Montreal 4-3 at Boston Garden to even the series. Spoiler alert: The Habs won the Cup in six.
3. Aaron Downey vs. Jesse Boulerice (February 11, 2003)
Some fights take longer than others. Of all the one-punch knockouts in NHL history, this is the most impressive in our eyes. Playing for the Carolina Hurricanes, Boulerice went for a straight right to Downey’s face, only to miss and get cold-cocked by the Dallas Stars southpaw.
After Boulerice was sent to the hospital with a broken jaw and a concussion, the Stars won this game 2-1 to make it a perfect night for the home crowd. Boulerice did get his revenge on Downey later down the road, once in 2008 and again in 2010, but this was definitely not his finest hour.
4. David Koci vs. Zdeno Chara (October 25, 2007)
Zdeno Chara isn’t the kind of guy you want to pick a fight with – and not just because he’s the tallest player in league history at 6-foot-9. The towering blueliner was in his second of 14 years as Boston’s captain when Koci and the Chicago Blackhawks came to the Garden, and they went at it hammer-and-tong in the middle of the first period.
Koci already had a broken nose going into this fight, and his face was the proverbial crimson mask by the time it was over, but the rookie earned everyone’s respect by challenging his much larger Czech compatriot.
5. Donald Brashear vs. Rob Ray (March 5, 2004)
This game between Brashear’s Philadelphia Flyers and Ray’s Ottawa Senators is highlighted by arguably the worst bench-clearing brawl the sport has ever seen. And at the centre of it were two of the game’s highest-profile enforcers, at the peak of hockey pugilism in the mid-Aughts.
With less than two minutes left to play and the Flyers up 5-2 in a hotly-contested affair, Brashear and Ray couldn’t hold it in any longer. Once they were finally pulled apart and sent to the penalty box, with Ray bleeding badly from a head wound, Brashear appeared to sucker-punch Brian Pothier on his way to the sin bin. All hell broke loose from there – not once, but several times, as the teams would eventually combine for 20 game misconducts. And yes, Chara was there too, still with the Senators at the time.
6. Marty McSorley vs. Bob Probert (February 4, 1994)
It’s almost apples-and-oranges when you compare this Probert fight with our No. 1 selection. McSorley brought some added marquee value to this bout, having been among Wayne Gretzky’s protectors with the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings; this was during his brief second stint with Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins, less than two weeks before rejoining Gretzky in LA.
They still call this one “The War in ‘94.” These two players let it all hang out for around 90 seconds before they ran out of gas, giving the officials – who weren’t about to put themselves in harm’s way – the opening they needed to step in.
7. Patrick Roy vs. Chris Osgood (March 26, 1997)
The puck stops here with the most famous goalie fight of them all, and a worthy addition to our list. The Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche were having another one of their many brawls, with the two netminders watching from the crease, when Roy decided things weren’t going too well for Colorado. So he shed his blocker, glove and mask, skated towards the melee, and called Osgood to join him.
This was one year after Roy had lost a fight against then-Detroit goalie Mike Vernon, so he had some extra motivation to get it right this time. And he did; Osgood wound up on top, to the delight of the crowd at aptly-named Joe Louis Arena, but Roy appeared to have the better of Osgood during the fight itself – unlike the following Western Conference Finals, which Detroit took 4-2 before winning the Cup.