Top NHL Fighters by Weight Class


Brian McGrattan


The grizzled fighter has been in his fair share of tussles, and after seeing his fight against up-and-comer Patrick Bordeleau (below), it’s clear that Calgary’s Brian McGrattan still has his touch (that touch being a pile-driving right-hand).  McGrattan began his professional career in the American league, the way most enforcers do.  In 2004-2005, the year of the NHL lockout, McGrattan had his most prolific fighting season, tallying 551 penalty minutes in just 71 AHL games played.  With the extra media coverage and publicity the AHL gained during that year, he earned an NHL spot with the Ottawa Senators the following season.  During his three years in Ottawa, McGrattan fought 37 times and earned a reputation as one of the best fighters in hockey.

After some problems with drugs and alcohol, McGrattan is more than three years clean and sober, and once again sits atop of the hockey food-chain.


Milan Lucic


Perhaps the best-overall fighter in the NHL, Lucic has a stunning 30-10-4 fighting record, according to, since joining the Boston Bruins as a 19-year-old.  But, lately his offensive contributions have kept him out of the penalty box.  He is averaging 17:19 of ice-time per-game, third most among Boston forwards.


Brandon Prust


Prust, a veteran of 91 NHL tilts, is known for often taking on much larger opponents.  But, even with a size disadvantage, Prust has a winning fight record: 41-32-18 according to  He began his NHL career in Calgary, making a name for himself playing with McGrattan, who helped mold him into the world-class scrapper he is today.

Michigan State Hockey Looks Forward to 2012-2013

Spartan hockey responded this season after a disappointing 2010-2011 campaign.  Long-time coach and 2007 National Champion Rick Comley left after last season, making way for the newly hired Tom Anastos.

Tom Anastos

Anastos beat out fellow candidate Danton Cole for the head job.  Cole is an experienced coach who played 318 games in the NHL and spent time coaching at Alabama-Huntsville.  After bringing the club only its second NCAA tournament appearance he interviewed for the MSU job.  After he was turned down, he was quickly picked up by the US National Training and Development program, a team that churns out the best American born prospects year-after-year.

This left a significant amount of uncertainty surrounding Anastos and how he would perform leading one the CCHA’s premier teams.  All of these questions were answered by his team’s performance on the ice.  The Spartans began the year 2-4 under their new boss, but that was all the adjustment time they needed.  The team won five straight following their fourth loss, including two against Western Michigan, one of the Spartans’ main rivals in the CCHA and for that matter the NCAA.  After Oct. 21 MSU went 17-9-4 to close out the regular season schedule.  That’s a pretty strong turn-around for a team that was in so much turmoil just twelve months before.

Anastos implemented his system and it paid immediate dividends, but Torey Krug’s leadership played no small part in the team’s success.  In his third year with the team, second as captain, Krug reached career highs in goals, assists and points.  The USHL product’s tremendous year did not go unnoticed by hockey’s higher-ups as he was signed by the Boston Bruins less than a week after State lost in the National Tournament.  Not only was Krug picked up by an NHL team as an undrafted free-agent, he immediately joined the roster of the defending Stanley Cup Champions.  Krug played two games with the Bruins only two weeks before the NHL playoffs began.  This was a key time for Boston and Krug still averaged 17 minutes of ice time between the two contests.  That kind of responsibility shows the tremendous amount of confidence that the Bruins have in their new blue-liner. 

This speaks to Krug’s maturity and his playing ability.  Never mind that fact that the Bruins are the defending Cup champs, they are one of the finest organizations in all of hockey and one that is built on the foundation of character.  The signing obviously means a lot for Krug and his future in the game, but it is also a marvelous achievement for MSU hockey as a whole.

Losing Krug’s intensity in the dressing room and on the ice is a huge blow to the squad, but one player who will fill a significant portion of that void, Matt Berry.  Like Krug, Berry is a skilled USHL product with a mean streak.  In 56 games with the Muskegon Lumber Jacks, he scored 25 goals, and 26 assists for 51 points while racking up 126 penalty minutes.  That’s a lot of nasty for a forward who is only 5’10’’ and 170 pounds.  Berry also showed a knack for producing in the clutch, scoring four goals and six points in just sixteen playoff games with Muskegon.Sophomore Matt Berry

As a freshman last season Berry played in 37 games for the Spartans, tallying 11 goals and 19 points.  He lived up to his big-game reputation when he scored the game-winning goal against the University of Michigan on Feb. 10 at Munn Arena.  A lot will be expected of the 19-year-old as State looks to build on last season’s success.

MSU has a number of other important returning players who will need to perform well next year.  Defenseman Jake Chelios needs to continue his upward development trajectory as a lot more weight will fall on his shoulders due to Krug’s departure.  Chelios will need to take over as the Spartan’s number-one puck-moving defenseman.  Three Canadian boys, forwards Lee Reimer, Kevin Walrod and Matt Grassi  will also gain a substantial amount of responsibility.  Walrod and Grassi will look to finish their senior seasons with a bang, while Reimer will try and use his great skill-set to increase his production in his junior season.

Will Yanakeff

Goaltender Will Yanakeff is slated as the starting net-minder this September after unseating Drew Palmisano down the stretch last year.  The big Michigander will be counted on to give his team a chance to win every night he’s between the pipes.

The Anastos era at Michigan State is still in its early stages and the future is bright for the green and white.

Trouble in Toronto

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a tailspin, losing eight of their last nine games and falling to 10th in the eastern conference.

James Reimer

The Leafs were headed in the right direction until their recent losing streak put them four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.  At the beginning of the year I posted my playoff predictions on my blog and placed Toronto in ninth, missing the playoffs yet again.  If the Leafs are to prove me wrong they will need to do it as a team and that starts at the top with management.

“It’s very hard to watch what happened and not wonder if we have enough (in goal),” Leafs’ GM Brian Burke said after an overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. “I have no answer for that. There were three goals that went in that have to stay out. Yes, he made some stellar saves around those goals, but the winning goal was going wide. I am not sure we are not going to be in the goaltending market before we are done.”

This is no way for the General Manager of “Canada’s Team” to act, and Burke of all people should know better.  In a market like Toronto, Brian Burke cannot criticize his goaltenders publicly without starting an uncontrollable fan response.  Already the crowds at the Air Canada Centre have shifted their hatred towards Coach Ron Wilson.  Burke probably didn’t see this coming, but that’s what happens when you start a commotion in a circus like Toronto.

Colton Orr

That is not to absolve Wilson of any fault.  Too often has Toronto’s coach blamed his players for the team’s struggles.  He sends a poor message about accountability when he refuses to take at least some responsibility for his team’s problems.

If you ask me, the Leafs will miss the playoffs if they don’t get some heart and soul players back into their lineup. Colby Armstrong has been in and out with injuries and Colton Orr is toiling in the American League with the Marlies. The Leafs need a shot of adrenaline and Orr is the syringe.

The Buds are on the road tonight against the Blackhawks, a perfect place to start a turnaround.  With no pressure from upset fans, the Leafs must use this game as an opportunity to get on a role before heading back to Canada to play against Montreal on Saturday night.

Montreal Falling

The Montreal Canadiens have long been regarded as one of the NHL’s classiest organizations, but the team is quickly losing respect around the league.

The Canadiens finished admirably last season, losing a close seven-game-overtime series to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.  The team had some glaring issues heading into the 2011-2012 season, but failed to address many of them.

Eric Cole was acquired via free agency to add some size and scoring up front.  Defenseman Chris Campoli was signed to a one year contract, to fill a void on defense left by the injured Andrei MarkovGeneral Manager Pierre Gauthier stopped there and failed to fully address the team’s defensive problems.

Perry Pearn

Not surprisingly, the Canadiens started the season poorly, posting a 1-5-2 record through Oct. 24.  In an effort to help satisfy Montreal’s fans’ concern, Gauthier dismissed assistant Coach Perry Pearn mere hours prior to a game on Oct. 26.  Pearn is a respected member of the hockey community and the firing sparked widespread criticism.

The team seemed to respond to the firing, winning four straight games, but quickly faded back into mediocrity.  By Dec. 17 the continued public outcry for change in Montreal caused Gauthier to sacrifice another innocent, firing head coach Jacques Martin just before a home game against the Devils.  Martin was in his third season with the Habs and earned a 96-75-25 record in 196 regular season games with the team.

The firing was not very surprising, but many in the media posed the question: should it have been Martin or Gauthier getting the axe?

Pierre Gauthier

Gauthier immediately named assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth interim-head coach.  The firing occurred directly before the game, making it impossible for Cunneyworth to address the media.  This may seem like a non-issue, but the fact that Cunneyworth became the first only-English-speaking coach in Montreal since 1971 is still a major problem in Quebec.  Had Cunneyworth been able to address the situation, he could have explained that he did indeed plan to learn French, as Marc Crawford had done when he coached the Nordiques.

Jacques Martin

Following a loss to the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 10, forward Mike Cammalleri was reported to have said that the team loses because they “play like losers.”  Cammalleri said later that the quote was taken out of context and that what he meant was that the team needed an attitude adjustment if they planned on picking themselves up.

Gauthier decided to ignore one of the team’s most important leaders’ concerns and instead adjusted Cammalleri’s residence by trading him to Calgary, during a game against the Boston Bruins.  Montreal still remains last in wins in the Northeast Division since the trade.

Since Gauthier’s hiring, Montreal has quickly dug themselves into a massive hole, but not all of the blame can be placed at the GM’s feet.  There are a number of major issues facing the organization, young–gun P.K. Subban’s antics playing no small part.  Montreal will not make the playoffs this year, and by then it will be ownership’s turn to deal with the fallout.

Unsettling Trend at THN

I have been increasingly disappointed in the opinions expressed by The Hockey News.  I am a 20-year-old from the US and there is very little hockey coverage where I live.  I live and breathe hockey, so five years ago when I saw an ad for the magazine I immediately subscribed.  I haven’t always agreed with all of their writers, especially Ken Campbell, but I respected the wide range of opinions in the publication.  I was very disappointed when Eric Duhatschek stopped writing the Overtime page forcing me to read Ken Campbell’s insulting pieces every week.

Still none of these things made me particularly upset at the magazine as a whole, just Ken Campbell, who I still recognize as a skilled writer.  What has brought me to this point of overwhelming frustration is the recent piece on 100 People of Power and

Mike Milbury

Influence in Hockey. Mike Milbury, who I believe to be either a blow-hard while on CBC or a puppet during his shifts on NBC, a person who has no real use on national television, was given credit for “stirring the pot,” while  not-surprisingly  Don Cherry was criticized and disrespected for the n’th time.  Still none of this surprised me enough to write about or complain, but the comments regarding Ron

MacLean, who apparently “fawns over Cherry” crossed the line.

MacLean is the most intelligent, insightful and devoted host of any hockey broadcast in North America, including TSN, Sportsnet, (both of which I regularly watch even though I live in the United States) and any excuse for a hockey broadcast in the states.

Ron MacLean

He regularly promotes Canadian culture and does a tremendous job covering our game on Hockey Day in Canada every year.  He has earned eight Gemini awards for his work on CBC and all that The Hockey News staff could come up with to fill his section is that he is “an effective point guard” and that he hosts Battle of The Blades.  The magazine is becoming more and more biased, not only against fighting, hitting, and toughness in hockey, but also the people in our sport who support these things that have helped define our game since March 3, 1875.

What it Takes

Sidney Crosby returned to the NHL last night and scored 2 goals and 4 points after missing nearly a year of action. 

There is no question that Crosby is the best player in the NHL, and last night was just another piece of evidence.  There are definitely other tremendous players in the NHL, but none have the three-zone dominance of Crosby. 

After the last two seasons, I find it almost comical to think that people could still believe that Alex Ovechkin is the world’s best player.  Ovechkin’s numbers have been down the last two years, but that’s not why he doesn’t match up to Crosby.  Ovechkin is only the best player on his team when he allows one of his teammates to get him the puck in the offensive zone.  He is in fact one of the worst players on his team in his own end because he is terrible defensively. There are a number of players I would rather have on my team than Ovechkin.  Two of the easiest to name are Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis.   

Datsyuk has great vision and is surprisingly strong on the puck.   He is a magician with the biscuit in the opponents end and one of the best defensive centermen in the game today.  Pavel won the Selke trophy, given to the league’s best defensive-forward, in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  Datsyuk plays a three-zone game just like Crosby, but with less explosive power.

Martin St. Louis is another player who is equally strong in each zone.  He has scored 80 or more points in each of the last five NHL seasons including 2007-2008 when his Lightning team put up the league’s worst record.  He is the main reason Steven Stamkos is the scorer that he is and I am willing to bet Steven would agree with me.  It has always been said that your best players should be your hardest workers and that is definitely the case for St. Louis.  He is a heart and soul player and a leader on his team.

The bottom line is Sidney Crosby is the best hockey player in the world and will be for as long as he plays.  Truly great players must be devoted to excellence in all three zones, for the whole shift, every shift.  That is the case with Crosby as well as with Datsyuk and St. Louis.  Until Ovechkin figures this out, he and his team will continue their losing ways.