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The 13 Greatest Goalie Fights in NHL History

by: Esteban On  Tuesday, November 12, 2013

best goalie fights nhl history

We’re supposed to disapprove of line brawls in hockey because they make the game look silly and barbaric. However, I don’t really buy that. I think the regular fights we see today—the ones where guys agree to fight each ahead of time, for no reason, and then throw down as soon as the puck drops—those make the game look silly and barbaric. A good old-fashioned line brawl? To me, that looks like two teams playing their guts out and getting too worked up. It’s far more natural and understandable than two guys with no real beef beating each other up just because.

Of course, the epitome of a good line brawl, as every hockey fan knows, is a goalie fight. They are, hands down, one of the greatest, most ridiculous spectacles in pro sports today. They don’t happen often, but when they do you remember them for years.

Unfortunately, thanks to the actions of one jerk, the NHL is now considering imposing harsh punishments for goalies who drop the gloves (and blockers). So today, we’re going to pay tribute to the art of the goalie fight with this list of the 13 best ones the NHL has ever seen.

Are you ready for awesomeness? Then get clicking on those arrows, friend.


Honorable Mention: Jonathan Bernier vs. Ryan Miller

September 22, 2013

This fight between Buffalo’s Ryan Miller and Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier really wasn’t very good in terms of punches thrown and landed, or even overall energy. But it gets an honorable mention because it came during a preseason game. As in, a game that didn’t even count.

Also, as an added bonus, in this video you get to see NHL goon John Scott inexplicably go after 5’5″ Phil Kessel, Toronto’s leading scorer, who responds by trying to chop Scott’s feet off with his stick. It was so bizarre.


13. Sean Burk vs. Mark LaForest

October 23, 1989

Wendel Clark? Al Iafrate? The Devils in forest green pants? Yep, our first entry is old school. And the goalie fight is pretty solid, too. You think it’s all over, and that the Leafs’ Mark LaForest and the Devils’ Sean Burke aren’t going to really go at it. Then all hell breaks loose again, and the two square off in the open ice.

Like I said…old school.


12. Rick DiPietro vs. Brent Johnson

February 2, 2011

Was this a quality fight? Nope. And that’s why it’s awesome. It’s a one-punch knockout of former Islander Rick DiPietro at the hands—nay, left hand, singular— of former Penguins backup Brent Johnson. The one punch fractured DiPietro’s face and cemented Johnson’s status as a goalie-fighting legend.

At the time DiPietro was looking to get his career back on track after a series of injuries had made his 15-year, $67.5 million contract the worst in pro sports. This one punch derailed him again, and pretty much led to the Islanders buying  him out and sending him on his merry way. 



11. Felix Potvin vs. Jani Hurme

December 20, 2001

Felix Potvin, playing for the Kings at the time, pretty much guaranteed a goalie fight on December 20, 2001, when he went berserk on the Ottawa Senators’ Andre Roy. That started a massive line brawl, and eventually Senators goaltender Jani Hurme skated down and let Potvin have it—even though Potvin’s helmet stayed on the entire time.

The highlight of the fight? That would have to be when Hurme gets his teammates on the Ottawa bench to help him take his glove off. Such great teamwork!


10. Ray Emery vs. Braden Holtby

November 1, 2013

In case you were wondering, this is the goalie fight that has the NHL GMs talking about possibly instituting new punishments that would basically outlaw goalie fights.

What was so bad about it? Well, as you can clearly see, the Capitals’ Braden Holtby wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Flyers’ Ray Emery. So it wasn’t so much of a “fight” as it was a beatdown.

Of all the fights on this list, this is the only one that was actually shameful. If a guy doesn’t want to fight, you don’t fight. Period.

That being said, you don’t have to rule out all goalie fights just because Emery is a jerk. Just suspend him (they didn’t) and move on.


9. Corey Shwab vs. Tommy Soderstrom

December 9, 1995

The Islanders Tommy Soderstrom brought this one on himself. The minute he got involved in the scrum behind the net, tipping the balance of power in favor of the Islanders, Martin Brodeur’s backup, Corey Schwab, had no choice but to go down and challenge him.

The winner? Schwab, obviously. He gave Soderstrom a number of good licks that, as you heard in the video, required seven stitches to close up.


8. Dan Cloutier vs. Steve Passmore

Mar 3, 2000

Two years prior to this fight between Tampa Bay’s Dan Cloutier and Chicago’s Steve Passmore, Cloutier was involved in another fight that we’ll eventually see on this list. And I don’t want to give too much away, but let me just say that given Cloutier’s history, Passmore was pretty brave to take the guy on here.

In any case, the fight was pretty much a draw, but undoubtedly the highlight has to be the cheap shot Cloutier delivers while the ref and the linesman are trying to break the fight up.


7. Byron Dafoe vs. Patrick Lalime

January 17, 2002

Bruins netminder Byron Dafoe definitely won this fight over Ottawa’s Patrick Lalime. However, with Jack Edwards behind the mic here, he probably would have called the fight for Dafoe even if Lalime had knocked out every one of his teeth. You have to admire Edwards’ enthusiasm, but the dude is definitely a homer.


6. Curtis Joseph vs. Tim Cheveldae

January 23, 1993

Speaking of enthusiastic calls, how about this one from former Blues announcer Ken Wilson? “HERE COMES CHEVELDAE!”? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that is one of the best calls of a hockey fight ever.

In any case, this fight between Detroit’s Tim Cheveldae and St. Louis’ Curtis Joseph didn’t feature a lot of punches landed. But it was enthusiastic and part of a pretty heated Blues-Red Wings rivalry, and that makes it pretty damn entertaining.



5. Steve Shields vs. Garth Snow

May 3, 1997

If Wilson’s call of the Cheveldae-Joseph fight isn’t the best call of a hockey fight ever, it’s gotta be this one. Buffalo’s Rick Jeanneret sounds like Jim Ross calling a WWE match. It’s classic.

Meanwhile, the fight itself was also epic. Once again, just when you think it’s not really going to happen, these two start throwing punches even though the referees are right there between them.

Seriously, how can you not love that?


4. Tommy Salo vs. Dan Cloutier

April 4, 1998

Remember when I alluded to another Dan Cloutier fight that ought to have made Steve Passmore nervous to fight him? Well, this is it. In ’98, while playing for the Rangers, Cloutier absolutely destroyed the Islanders’ Tommy Salo. Then he challenged the entire Islanders bench.

That dude was a badass.


3. Ron Hextal vs. Felix Potvin

November 10, 1996

A lot of people seem to think this fight between Philly’s Ron Hextal and Toronto’s Felix Potvin is the greatest goalie fight of all-time. And frankly, I see their point. It’s pretty damn wild.

However, ultimately, I think it belongs in the third spot behind two battles in back-to-back years involving the goalies for Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings.


2. Patrick Roy vs. Mike Vernon

March 26, 1997

The first Red Wings-Avalanche goalie fight? That went down in 1997 between Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon, during the height of the Detroit-Denver rivalry in the late 90s. At the time, everyone already knew Roy was kind of a douche, so it was pretty sweet to see him take a whoopin’ from good old Mike Vernon.


1. Patrick Roy vs. Chris Osgood

April 1, 1998

The second Red Wings-Avalanche goalie fight? Yep, it went down almost exactly a year after the first. This time, instead of Mike Vernon, Patrick Roy took on Chris Osgood. And this time he won—though Osgood handled himself valiantly.

Patrick Roy is going to make one hell of a fiery coach.