April 13, 2010
The Stanley Cup playoffs will provide a plethora of additional options for goals, saves and hits of the year.
They may not — and will not, if history tells us anything — provide any additional candidates for the Top NHL Fight of the 2009-10 season, because we all know the playoffs are a bastion of gentlemanly hockey where the "knuckle-draggers" have no home. Until your guy gets lit up by an elbow, and you're demanding that a fourth-liner with 150 PIM take the next faceoff ...
The glorious thing about ranking the top fights is that they can be quantified, thanks to that international treasure HockeyFights.com, whose pugilism fans rate every donnybrook on every level of hockey. We asked HockeyFights guru David Singer for his impressions of the 2009-10 fight season:
"Five seasons after the NHL lockout fighting seems to have stabilized, at least in terms of numbers. The trend has been the same since 2005-06: the days of the lumbering heavyweight are nearing an end.
"The average time on ice for the fighting major leaders is rising, i.e. those who drop the gloves can play the game. Pre-lockout the leaders list wouldn't include Matt Carkner(notes), an Ottawa Senators defenseman averaging almost 17 minutes a game.
"That's not to say the list is filled with first and second-liners, it's just not the way game is coached. It's also not to say there are no more pure enforcers. They're just fewer in number each season. The departures of Georges Laraque(notes) and Donald Brashear(notes) highlight this trend.
"Derek Boogaard of the Minnesota Wild has become the league's de facto champ, but how much longer can he stay in the NHL?
"Rick Rypien's a rising star, the pound-for-pound champ and a huge fan favorite. Conquering injuries and leveling his own mind, he played almost a full season for the Canucks taking on opponents of any size."
With that, we count down HockeyFight.com's list of the top brawls of 2009-10, as voted by their fight fans.
And here ... we ... go.
This actually tied with a fight between Cam Janssen and Arron Asham with a score of 7.9, but we're giving tiebreakers based on which fight earned more votes.
Rypien rallies after a furious start for both fighters. If this had been 1996, it would have been a totally different story. Because May was a heavyweight champ and, you know, Rypien was 11.
Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs, Feb. 6, 2010
Another tie, but this earned more attention from the fight fans. Orr just throws a series of right-handed bombs that takes out Carkner in what was third of a series of four fights they had during the Battle of Ontario. To the surprise of no one (especially Carkner), Orr won this by unanimous decision.
Colorado Avalanche at Toronto Maple Leafs, Oct. 13, 2009
Truth be told, Koci is one of our least favorite fighters in the NHL; but this is an even scrap and we give him points for pulling Orr's jersey over his face to make him look like an old-timey bank robber.
St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild, March 14, 2010
"This is a super heavyweight bout!"
Absolutely bombs dropped in this fight before it peters out at the end. There's something to be said for the fact that the HockeyFights.com pugilist panel gave the fight to Boogaard by 42.9-42.7 percent margin — meaning the overwhelming majority felt this bout had a clear winner.
Perhaps you've seen this clip one- or two-hundred times in the last week.
The karmic justice handed to Cooke by the Thrashers rookie has been celebrated through many hockey circles, so this lights-out moment was given a rather high score for what was essentially a rout of a bout. Incredibly, 0.3 percent of the HockeyFights.com voters gave the fight to Cooke, which is what we in the business call a "sympathy vote."
This was like watching two battleships pass each other while firing every cannon they have at each others' hull. McGrattan's series of rights to MacIntyre would have felled most fighters, but he hung tough. That moment when MacIntyre pushed McGrattan to the Oilers bench; did anyone else thing he was going to make a tag for reinforcements?
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks, Jan. 9, 2010
Awesome effort by Prust here to rally in the fight. Loved that moment in which he's trying to flip Rypien's lid, can't, and then just decided to nail him with an upper cut that would make Bald Bull proud.
3. David Koci vs. Brian McGrattan (8.8)
Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames, Jan. 11, 2010
The Avalanche announcers may have made this seem a little closer than it was, but give Koci credit: He hung in against a tough competitor, and put on a hell of a show. "That is a tilt folks!"
Maybe Koci's real talent is making competitors look very good. He's like the Shawn Michaels of hockey fight selling.
St. Louis Blues at New Jersey Devils, March 20, 2010
You're not alone in thinking this absolute classic marathon of a fight might have been the top brawl of the season, but it falls just short. This one had added intrigue, as Janssen was a popular Devils fighter before heading to the Blues. Wrote Kevin Schultz of FanHouse: "You can tell the guys in the TV truck are out of interesting camera angles when they go to the camera directly above the fighters. Can't say I've seen that angle before."
But it wasn't Cam's top fight of the 2009-10 season. This was:
1. Rick Rypien vs Cam Janssen (9.1)
Vancouver Canucks at St. Louis Blues, Dec. 31, 2009
Janssen gets bloodied, and really turns the fight around by switching hands, which was awesome. The punches came so fast that it was nearly a blur. According to the HockeyFights.com panelists, that was good enough to win.
Did they get it right? Did another fight from the Top 10 deserve a higher rating? Did another fight from this list of top 2009-10 brawls deserve placement in the final 10?
Thanks again to Dave Singer for his site's great work in keeping the foil on ...