There’s nothing quite like a goalie fight in the NHL. They usually occur when there’s a brawl, and one of the goalies decides to get involved and leaves the other tender absolutely no choice but to join the fray as well. Even though all ten skaters are engaged in their own battles, as soon as the goalies square off, it’s as if they take center stage and everything else comes to a halt. There’s been some doozies over the years, and for the most part it’s been good clean fun with nobody getting badly hurt (there are a few exceptions that will make the list).
Unfortunately, goalie fights are most likely going to be phased out from here on in. Ray Emery basically ruined the fun for everybody when he skated the length of the ice and assaulted Capitals goalie Braden Holtby for no apparent reason. Since that ugly incident, the NHL has instructed the linesmen to immediately step in and intercept the goalies before they start chucking the knuckles. We recently saw an example of this when Peter Budaj and Marc-Andre Fleury decided to “get their flippers off” and were promptly stopped in their tracks. Goalie fights are a lot of fun when both goalies are willing combatants or when a goalie gets involved as a third man in and the opposing goalie skates the length of the ice to even the odds. But what Emery did was just ridiculous, and it’s tough to blame the league for trying to crack down on goalie fights because of it. Having said all that, Emery will however make the list for another one of his skirmishes! Buckle up, here are the top 10 NHL goalie fights of all time.
10. Miikka Kiprusoff vs Tomas Vokoun
This was not the greatest fight in regards to haymakers thrown or damage done. But we have to take into consideration that these are two European goaltenders going at it! As Greg Millen so excitedly put it: “Who would have ever thought, goalies from Europe having a fight? This is pretty good!” There’s a reluctance at times among European skaters to engage in fights because they were never exposed to it growing up, so to see a goalie from Finland and a goalie from the Czech Republic square off was awesome. Good sportsmanship too by Vokoun to throw down the mask when he saw the Kiprusoff already lost his. Well done boys.
9. Brent Johnson vs. Rick DiPietro
Only one punch thrown in this one, but it makes the list due to the damage it inflicted. During his injury plagued career, DiPietro has dealt with; hip surgery, multiple knee surgeries, a concussion, groin injuries. It just went from bad to worse when DiPietro’s face met Johnson’s overhand left punch. He ultimately ended up missing six weeks of play with facial fractures and a swollen knee (that’s right, he hurt his knee in the process, only he could do that). Johnson certainly surprised DiPietro by firing off a left punch rather than a right. In one of the more comical moments in this debacle, at 40 seconds into the video, you can see a confused Di Pietro ask Johnson: “are you a south paw?” Johnson confirms DiPietro’s suspicions, to which DiPetro utters an f-bomb…Sorry Rick.
8. Dan Cloutier vs. Tommy Salo
Dan Cloutier was the most underrated goalie fighter in the NHL, the problem is most of his tilts occurred in the minor leagues so he lunacy tended to fly under the radar. Nevertheless, he put beat downs on Tampa Bay’s goalie Sean Gauthier in a preseason game as well as Steve Passmore of the Chicago Blackhawks. Dwayne Roloson also literally hid behind the linesman when Cloutier challenged him.
This particular instance was another Islander beat down, and by far Cloutier’s most devastating result. Salo was being a good Samaritan trying to bail out his teammate Mariusz Czerkawski who was getting absolutely whaled on by everyone’s favorite CBC hockey analyst (enter sarcasm sign), PJ Stock. Cloutier fires of 14 unanswered rights on a defenceless Salo, who decided that turtling was his best option at that point. Finally, when Cloutier seemed satisfied, he stopped throwing punches and decided to challenge the entire Islanders bench. No one obliged.
7. Patrick Lalime vs Byron Dafoe
Lalime decided to enter the fray as there was some roughhousing going on in the corner. Obviously, Dafoe felt obliged to skate the length of the ice and get involved. But Dafoe seemed content on subduing Lalime, simply hanging on so Lalime couldn’t re-enter the skirmish. Lalime probably should have taken Dafoe’s peace offering because the rest didn’t go so well for him. They exchanged a few punches and Dafoe started teeing off on Lalime, leaving him with a mouse over his eye. You have to cut Lalime a bit of slack here, he spent the majority of the fight trying to get Dafoe’s mask off while his flew off easily.
6. Garth Snow vs. Steve Shields
Snow wasn’t overly engaged at first. He did however poke Brad May with his stick and then attempted to give a little face wash to Rob Ray. He seemed pretty composed as the linesman pulled him away until he saw Shields coming towards him, then it was on! The problem is, at this point it appeared as though Shields changed his mind. Teammate Bob Boughner also nicely told him that he should probably reconsider. It seems as though the madness was dwindling, but it picked up a second wind. Shields and Snow got close enough and it was back on! This was an even fight as the two giant goaltenders threw some wild haymakers and finished by almost throwing each other over the Sabres bench. Rick Jeanerette’s legendary commentary only adds to the excitement in this one. Excellent exchange. You were a much better fighter than you are a GM, Garth.
5. Janne Hurme vs. Felix Potvin
This fight ranks so high because something unprecedented happened in this one. Janne Hurme and Felix Potvin start to go at it, Hurme clearly has the advantage in the fight as he has Potvin bent over and is firing off punches. The problem is, Hurme simply cannot get his glove off no matter how hard he tries to shake it. What happened next is something we’ll never see again. Hurme literally spins Potvin so he can get closer to the Sens bench, and stops fighting momentarily so he can stick his hand out and have his teammates rip off his glove for him. The Sens undid the straps on his glove as if they were disarming a bomb. Hurme then proceeded to bombard Potvin with lefts now that his hand was free. The cat will redeem himself later on in this list…
4. Ray Emery vs. Martin Biron/Andrew Peters
We’ve given Ray Emery a hard time so far, now it’s time for some love. We saw another first here during the bout(s). It all came to came to fruition during a “chippy” game, when Lindy Ruff felt that Bryan Murray sent Chris Neil out on the ice to level Chris Drury. Ruff responded by putting his goons out there, immediately going after the Sens that were on the ice. The tenders basically nodded at each other and met at center ice. You have to give Martin Biron credit for how game he was as he fully knew he was about to get lit up.
What followed was the unprecedented part. Once the goalie fight was over, Emery then had another scrap with one of the leagues toughest enforcers at the time, Andrew Peters…and he did it with a smile on his face. The mere notion that Emery was able to hang in there with Peters is quite the accomplishment. Yours truly (a goalie as well) can assure you that wearing all that gear puts the goalie at a significant disadvantage when tussling with any skater, let alone an enforcer like Peters!
3. Patrick Roy vs. Chris Osgood
This brawl came out of nowhere. It seemed as though all the bad blood had simmered between these two teams. They had arguably the most infamous brawls in league history the year before and one would think they got the aggression out of their system, but apparently not. The Wings and Avs locked up in the 1998 playoffs, and what looked to be a normal scrum turned into “round 2.”
Patrick Roy saw two of his teammates getting whaled on, and the linesmen weren’t stepping in because they were tied up. It’s amazing how he calculatedly took off his gloves and carefully put them on top of the net before entering the fray. In Roy’s first battle with Vernon, he got stuck with his glove on and ended up getting the worst of the fight. This one was more of a fair tilt. Roy landed three nasty rights, but Osgood got the takedown at the end and could have filled him in if the linesmen weren’t there. Even fight!
2. Ron Hextall vs. Felix Potvin
The hockey world let out a collective gasp when Ron Hextall suddenly turned into a speed skater as he went the length of the ice in record time to go fight Felix Potvin. Absolutely nobody thought this would end well for The Cat. If you’ve never seen a goalie fight, but have been reading this article, you probably don’t think this will end well for him based on his performance against Janne Hurme.
Hextall and Potvin wasted no time and just started swinging for the fences. As they were being separated, it was apparent that Potvin connected hard with one of his punches as Hextall had a huge gash over his left eye and was bleeding heavily. If he wasn’t aware of it at the time, Tie Domi made sure to remind him. This fight was a beauty because the bully finally got bullied.
1. Patrick Roy vs. Mike Vernon
In a brawl that was nicknamed; “Bloody Wednesday, Fight Night at the Joe,” Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon squared off in the most talked about goalie fight in the leagues history.
Lets set the stage for you guys. In the 1996 playoffs, Claude Lemieux delivered one of the most dirty hits of all-time to Wings forward Kris Draper. As Draper was a mere two feet from the his bench and Lemieux shoved him from behind which drove Draper faced first into the boards. He ended up needing reconstructive facial surgery to repair the damage.
The following season, Lemieux wasn’t in the lineup for the first three meetings between the Avs and Wings. But it seemed like the dust had settled in regards to the incident between Draper and Lemieux. In the 4th meeting, Lemieux was in the lineup and Darren McCarty clearly hadn’t forgotten about it. He grabbed Lemieux and pummeled him, and even kneed him in the head (3:55 of the brawl video). Lemieux confirmed on Off the Record that he still has a bump on his head due to that knee from McCarty. As Lemieux was getting rag dolled, Roy raced out to go help out his teammate and goes airborne as he somehow runs into both Brendan Shanahan and Adam Foote. Roy and Vernon ultimately lock up and start throwing bombs. Very difficult for Roy to get going as he got tangled up and could not get his glove off. He recently admitted in an interview (ironically with Chris Osgood), that he still wishes he would have gotten his mitt off. Nevertheless, the 5’8 Vernon bloodied the much bigger Roy in the most famous goalie fight of all time!