The greatest enforcers in NHL history

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

June 22nd, 2020

Hockey is often considered one of the toughest sports to play, but these five players were a cut above in the toughness department. Here are the top five enforcers in NHL history.

5. Stu Grimson

Stu Grimson, who earned the nickname "The Grim Reaper" in his 14 seasons in the NHL, was the quintessential goon.

Standing at 6-foot-6, Grimson scored just 39 points over 729 games but earned 2,113 penalty minutes, most of them for fighting. Nashville was Grimson’s eighth and final stop over his career in 2002.

4. Rob Ray

Beloved in Buffalo for 14 seasons, Rob Ray was considered a scourge by just about every other team in the league.

"Rayzor" played only 27 games in his rookie year, but in the following campaign (1990-91), Ray amassed a league-leading 350 penalty minutes. He would retire in 2004 – after 11 games with the Senators following a trade out of Buffalo – with 3,207 penalty minutes to his name, the sixth-most all-time.

Ray, who scored just 91 points in 900 games, also left his mark on the NHL rulebook. The so-called "Rob Ray Rule" states "a player who engages in fisticuffs and whose sweater is not properly ‘tied-down’ (jersey properly fastened to pants), and who loses his sweater (completely off his torso) in that altercation, shall receive a game misconduct."

Ray often shed his equipment during brawls so that opponents couldn’t grab hold of him.

3. Tie Domi

Despite his relatively small stature (5-foot-10, 200 pounds), Tie Domi would often fight bigger opponents and won his fair share of brawls over 16 seasons, 12 of which were spent with the Maple Leafs.

When all was said and done, Domi earned the third-most penalty minutes in NHL history (3,515). He did have some offensive talent though – Domi exceeded 10 goals in a season three times in Toronto.

2. Dale Hunter

The second-most penalized player in NHL history (3,565 penalty minutes), Dale Hunter was deserving of the nickname La Petite Peste, or "The Nuisance" he earned in his early days with the Quebec Nordiques.

In spite of his propensity for pugilism, Hunter was a reliable source of offense over his 19-year career, the majority of which was spent with the Capitals. He notched 1,020 points over 1,407 games.

1. Tiger Williams

The NHL’s all-time leader in penalty minutes (3,971), Tiger Williams was hockey’s ultimate warrior.

Williams twice led the league in PIMs in his early days with the Maple Leafs, and did so once in Vancouver. "Tiger" also frequently found the back of the net, scoring as many as 35 goals in a season. He retired with 513 points over 969 games with four different teams.

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