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Violence and Fighting in the National Hockey League

Fights don’t just break out. Everything happens for a reason, including two guys trying to bash the other’s brain in. The most obvious is when someone on the other hockey team takes a cheap shot at one of the star players. Some nights you can actually feel a fight brewing, almost from the opening face-off. Both teams are running at each other, and it’s just a matter of time before fists and elbows start flying.

A lot of times, fighting is a true game tactic. The Chicago Blackhawks’ star enforcer, Bob Probert has been labelled as a tough guy. He is used as a weapon to get his team back into the game. When the team is down a couple of goals, he is sent out to cause a spark and get the crowd back into the game. The only strategy is hit, hit and hit. Now the guys are so much smarter, bigger and stronger, and they actually work on being better fighters. However, the smartest, the biggest, and the strongest one are Probert. The other enforcers in the NHL do not compare to him. Bob Probert is the best enforcer in the league because he has speed, balance, and grit.

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A hockey fight is one of the toughest things in sports. In a good 30-second fight, the two guys will land more punches than in a twelve round boxing match on pay-per-view. The importance of speed is significant during the Chicago versus Toronto game, on April 15, 1998 (1). His opponent is Tie Domi; perhaps hockey’s most hated enforcer and Probert’s frequent adversary throughout the 90’s in some of the nastiest fights in hockey history. Not to mention that he is at a height disadvantage in comparison to Probert. As the fight begins, Domi launches an attack, dropping his gloves and landing a combination of punches on Probert’s face. Although, he landed the first punch he is not as quick as the Blackhawks’ enforcer is. The surprise attack only provokes Probert- like poking a bear with a cocktail fork. The enraged winger throws a haymaker at Domi’s head. As Domi retrieves he pulls him back by his jersey and uses his head like a speed bag, landing an unbelievable 35 punches. Domi’s blood-smeared face looks like he has survived a head-on auto crash. Probert’s quickness was a clear advantage. His speed makes him the better fighter.

If you want to dish it out, you’ve got to stay on your feet. Once one guy falls he’s pretty much finished. If both guys have good balance, it’s probably going to be a half-decent fight. Another of Probert’s battles took place during a Calgary versus Detroit game, on April 2, 1994 (2). His opponent is Sandy McCarthy, nonsense forward and one of the league’s up and coming tough guys. Keep in mind, he does not have half the experience that Probert has. Looking to make a name for himself by taking on the NHL’s prime enforcer, Mcarthy dominates the first half of the minute. He lands two punches for each of Probert’s, pummeling the Red Wing’s face raw and puffy. Probert’s legendary ability to take a punch while maintaining his balance saves him, which is one aspect that McCarthy is lacking. He then lands a powerful punch that sends the Calgary player to the ice, like a staggering bear. Probert’s balance differentiates him from the other enforces making him the top enforcer.

“To be the man, you have to beat the man.” A provoking phrase that will charge many to fight Probert. While he is probably the most feared in the league, Probert is also the toughest. On February 4, 1994, during a Detroit versus Pittsburgh game, yet another fight would break out between him and Marty McSorley (3). The ensuing fistfight lasts longer than most Fox sitcoms, an excruciating one and a half minutes. About that featured two of the leagues toughest men. The pair exchange punches by the dozen. In the early going Probert’s grit is unleashed as he batters Mcsorely until his face resembles a piece of beaten meat. He is also much stronger and a bit larger than Marty. Thirty seconds into the fight, he knocks Mcsorely to the ice, but the Penguin enforcer gets up and takes his medicine for another full minute. When officials try to put an end to what becomes one of the fiercest fights in NHL history, Mcsorely drops to the ice once again, only this time he does not get up. His grit establishes Probert as one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Bob Probert’s speed, balance, and grit differentiate him from all the other enforcers in the league and give him the title as one of the greatest fighters the NHL has ever witnessed. Throughout his career, Probert has revealed true character and growth. He has all the qualities that can give a team a major advantage. The other fighters in the league should take down a couple of notes; it will only benefit them in the future. Someone has to take the throne when the torched is passed.

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Violence and Fighting in the National Hockey League. (2021, Mar 13). Retrieved August 2, 2021, from