December 15, 2009
(No, the first decade of the 21st century doesn't technically end until 2011. Save your bellyaching. But we've had nine NHL seasons and one stolen from us since 1999-2000, and Yahoo! Sports has decided it's time to rank the best and worst of the last "decade." Enjoy, and snark freely in the comments.)
It's been an interesting decade for hockey fighting. The lower-line fight specialists (some call them "goons") became an endangered species. Fights were demonized by critics, especially after the death of 21-year-old Don Sanderson. At the same time, fights were still in the rise in the NHL as we reached the end of the 2000s.
Those are the politics; what about the pugilists? We've seen some absolute slobber-knockers in the 2000s; fights that stood on their own merits without a carnival barker like Jack Edwards upping the intensity from the announcer's booth.
What's the best fight? We called in an expert: David Singer, the man behind the gold-standard fight site HockeyFights.com, who offered his Top 10 and some commentary on the following clips.
Here's David Singer of HockeyFights.com with his top 10 fights of the last decade ...
This was the third fight of 2007-08 between Brad May(notes) and Krys Barch(notes) and it was a great one. NHL rivalries rarely produce so many good tilts as quickly as this one did. (Dallas Stars vs. Anaheim Ducks)
It'd be a shame not to dip into the juniors at least one for this list, and where better than the Western League? Garet Hunt and James McEwan have already fought a total of 12 times between the juniors and minors, with a few great ones between them. May they always play in the same league. (Vancouver Giants vs. Kelowna Rockets)
Boston and Philadelphia are two towns that need players like this. The crowd feeds off of them, and the players feed back off the crowd. Shawn Thornton(notes) may not have P.J. Stock's wave, but he certainly has his heart. (Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins)
Light heavyweights? Middleweights? Who cares. These two rack up the PIMs year after year, but each earn five the old fashioned way with this dust-up. Only Daniel Carcillo(notes) vs. George Parros(notes) might be able to up the hair factor. (Phoenix Coyotes vs. Columbus Blue Jackets)
This fight is from Dec 19, 2008, but there are five others just like it. Jon Mirasy and Jeremy Yablonski(notes), friendly off the ice, trade punches like few other pro hockey players can on it. (Syracuse Crunch vs. Binghamton Senators)
Mixing it up some, let's travel over to the Central Hockey League for a moment. Toe-to-toe and a huge KO, this minor league scrap is among the tops of any league. (Oklahoma City Blazers vs. Colorado Eagles)
The greatest NHL knockout of the past ten years. Something that only happened in JCVD movies and video games before, Aaron Downey(notes) landed the best, and luckiest punch of his career. (Carolina Hurricanes vs. Dallas Stars)
The toe-to-toe fight of the decade. PJ Stock was a huge fan favorite everywhere he played, but no NHL city gave him the love Boston did, and this fight is why. Stand, throw and wave to the crowd when it's done. Stock and Stephen Peat had two other great fights. (Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins)