June 28, 2011
Looking back at the year that was in hockey pugilism, we went right to the expert: David Singer, founder of HockeyFights.com, who gave us the lowdown on where hockey fighting was in 2010-11:
"Fighting numbers cooled a bit this year but were pretty much on par with the three seasons before it, when the frequency of fighting stabilized after the lockout.
"There were some nasty games between the Canadiens and Bruins and Islanders and Penguins. Fun for fight funs, fun for those who love rivalries. There's nothing like having half a dozen games to look forward to next season. But there was too much in too short a time frame, and league (and media) attention helped cool things off.
"There was no clear-cut champ this past season. Georges Laraque(notes) and Donald Brashear(notes) are now long gone and Wade Belak(notes) didn't see much ice before unofficially stepping into the booth. Derek Boogaard(notes) has been the most feared fighter over the last couple of years and became an easy de facto champ until an injury kept him out most of the season.
"Boogaard's accidental death was shocking at the end of the season, and it's too hard to say if it will have any impact on the future of the enforcer role. The old school enforcer role is becoming rarer and rarer. Many of the young tough guys listed on the fighting majors leaderboard bring other skills, and an increase in ice time is reflecting that."
With that, we present you with the 10 best hockey fights of 2010-11, from the NHL and beyond …
This fight was memorable for a few reasons: The sense of danger as Horton decided to fight just days before the playoffs started; the wonderful fight-calling of Jack Edwards; and the fact it was a pretty good scrap.
"If this guy gets hurt, the whole equation changes!" - The Prophet Jack Edwards.
A tough one to watch given Raitis Ivanans' concussion suffered during this scrap, but it remains one of the season's best heavyweight battles.
Spirited punch-fest with McGinn of the Gatineau Olympiques taking on Howe of the Moncton Wildcats. This might have been a case of Howe giving us the quantity and McGinn giving us the quality. Doesn't change the fact that Howe is Hockey Rudy.
This was the fifth time Rosehill of the Toronto Maple Leafs battled Lessard of the Ottawa Senators. Not a whole hell of a lot of defense in this fight, but sometimes you don't mind the pugilistic equivalent of pond hockey. Try and count the punches.
A bloody entertaining tilt between two brawlers with NHL experience. Boulerice was an enforcer for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins while PL3 was playing for the Albany Devils.
Big-time bomb throwing here between these heavyweights; and really, who can't love a fight that the play-by-play guy refers to as a "bloodsport fight" with Leblond "bleeding like a raccoon"?
Boulerice, who once earned a 25-game suspension with the Philadelphia Flyers for a cross-check to the face of Ryan Kesler(notes), was suspended 10 games later in the season for intentionally bumping a ref.
A generational bout between these two, and the excitement of the young Dallas Stars forward taking on one of the league's biggest stars made this a memorable scrap. Well, that and FSN Dallas and Puck Daddy hero Daryl Reaugh having described it as a "five knuckle meat soother."
4. David Broll vs. Justin Sefton (OHL — March 1, 2011)
They all can't be marathon brawls. Here's a fight that starts out with Broll of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds having the advantage … and then seeing that advantage end with one stiff punch from Justin Sefton of the Sudbury Wolves.
What a terrific fight on several fronts. It was the sixth time Barch of the Dallas Stars and Janssen of the St. Louis Blues have fought in the last three years. Barch bled a little in this battle. Janssen made the fight instantly memorable with his "c'mon, bring it" motion early on.
This was a rematch for Gallant, a left wing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and Rechlicz, a right wing for the Hershey Bears … a rematch five years in the making. They squared off in junior back in 2006, and as you can see it was worth the wait as the two AHLers traded (and absorbed) a great number of blows.
Full marks to Gallant, who gave up four inches and nearly 40 pounds to Rechlicz in the matchup.
Wow. Just … wow.
The way all the Washington Capitals players watched the replay of the fight on the center ice scoreboard, as the crowd reacted with every punch, remains our favorite highlight of the clip. This bout between Boulton and Erskine was named the Fight of the Year on Hockey Fights and there's no point in arguing that claim.
Hey, it hasn't exactly been the best of times for the Atlanta Thrashers … at least they won something of note before jetting to Winnipeg.