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12 Of The Year's Punchiest Hockey Fights, Evaluated By A Boxing Writer


As far as I can tell, the main difference between boxing and hockey fights is that during a hockey fight, you're standing on ice. And sliding all over the place. Therefore it becomes important to hold your opponents in place with one hand to stabilize them before you can hit them. Other than that, it's all fighting.

1. Jarome Iginla vs. Jamie Benn, Dec. 23, 2010: Iginla throws more punches, but Benn slips them well; you'll note that he ducks under nearly every hook. He also keeps his helmet on, which makes him the smarter fighter by default.


2. Penguins vs. Islanders, Feb. 11: The Islanders have no compunction about jumping on an injured man who's already down and gang-beating him. They know how to press their advantages, which will take them far.

3. Eric Boulton vs. John Erskine, Nov. 14, 2010: A veritable chess match, by hockey fight standards. Erskine plays the waiting game, shrugging off Boulton's flailing, and is rewarded with one clean shot to his opponent's temple. In a short fight, when stamina is not a factor, and a single big punch can end it all, waiting for a clean opening pays dividends. Unless both guys are wearing plastic helmets.

4. Francis Lessard vs. Darcy Hordichuk, March 31: Lessard is throwing only lefts; his opponent is throwing only rights, and both are holding with the opposite arm. This leaves nothing but offense on one side of the body, and nothing but defense on the other side of the body. An unbalanced war strategy; a foolish battle of attrition.

5. Raitis Ivanans vs. Steve MacIntyre, Oct. 7, 2010: MacIntyre actually manages to throw (and land) a Sugar Ray Leonard-style bolo punch from the bottom with the right hand, which seems incredibly impressive, given the heavy garments weighing down both fighters. He follows it up with the same right hand straight over the top, dropping Ivanans to the ground. Masterful.


6. Colton Orr vs. Deryk Engelland, Oct. 13, 2010: An ugly heavyweight battle. A frenzied, unfocused flurry of wild swings ending with one fat boy sprawled atop the other. Not so different from an average fight in boxing's currently pitiable heavyweight division.

7. Canadiens vs. Bruins, Feb. 9: Pushing, followed by shirt-pulling, falling-down, halfhearted hugging, and not a single punch visibly landed. Your standard drunken bar brawl among out-of-shape louts who would rather holler than bleed, but on a frozen surface.


8. Rick DiPietro vs. Brent Johnson, Feb. 2: Johnson skates in and throws a left hook right over DiPietro's extended right arm, knocking him out cleanly. That extended-arm defense only works against amateurs. Pros will always take advantage of the way it leaves your face open. Cover up in your shell next time, DiPietro. Stick that right jab, don't leave it hanging out in front of you like a goddamn lance. You're not a Knight of the fucking Round Table. You're an unconscious hockey player.

9. Rangers vs. Oilers, Nov. 14, 2010: A demonstration of the simple fact that if you can circle to the side faster than your opponent can turn, you will always be able to hit him in the side of his head.


10. Ryan Wilson vs. Jordin Tootoo, March 12: Tootoo, in contrast to every other hockey brawler, actually assumes a boxing stance and throws a couple jabs, which pay dividends by distracting Wilson long enough to allow Tootoo to come underneath with several big left hooks that spill Wilson's hair all over the place. The jab. The jab. The jab. Learn it, live it, love it.

11. Zack Smith vs. Nathan Horton, April 9: Horton doesn't look at what he's punching; Smith throws dirty rabbit punches to the back of the head, nonstop. Let's just disqualify them both.


12. Krys Barch vs. Cam Janssen, Jan. 2: Janssen likes to lean back and throw his lefts from far away like some movie cowboy; Barch comes inside with right hands that are slightly more direct. Straighter beats loopier. Don't get fancy. It's dangerous out there.

Hamilton Nolan writes for Gawker and writes about boxing for places besides Gawker.


Video editing by Kate Shapiro. Videos via YouTube and

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