You won’t find a tougher professional athlete than the hockey enforcer.
There are big rugby players and football safeties who dish out crunching hits, but that’s only one part of the job description for the enforcer. They must also take shots to the body, throw off the gloves when necessary, and dish out nasty punch to protect their teammates.
Anyone can take a penalty. These are the players who pushed through everything to become the toughest guys that anyone ever knew.
#1. Gordie Howe
Mr. Hockey wasn’t a proactive fighter on the ice, although he was willing to throw down if it became necessary. He used grit, durability, and strength to become one of the best goal-scorers of his era. Howe continued to play professionally until the age of 51, with most of his time spent with the Red Wings. He’s also the only player in NHL history to play in a game in five different decades.
#2. Scott Stevens
Even though Stevens played over 1,600 games in his career, it was a Game 7 check in the 1999-2000 season that everyone remembers. Eric Lindros was skating in on a turnover, and he just took him out. This enforcer also managed to win three Stanley Cups over his career while leaving behind hits that would keep people down.
#3. Rob Blake
During his two-decade career, Blake was one of the best two-way defensemen in the NHL. He would also put up a lot of penalty minutes, serving over 1,600 of them during his 1,270 games. Rob was always ready for the big hit, which is why his defensive stick was so dominant. He won the 1993 Norris Trophy, then earned his way into the hockey hall of fame in 2014.
#4. Bobby Orr
Although he would serve almost 1,000 penalty minutes during his career, he wasn’t much of a fighter on the ice. He would win eight Norris trophies before being forced to retire early because of the injuries he suffered. The goal that he scored in overtime to win the Stanley Cup for the Bruins would become one of the most iconic sports photographs in history.
#5. Donald Brashear
With over 2,600 penalty minutes to his name, Brashear was always one of the most violent enforcers during his era. He took part in the most penalized game in history too, when Ottawa and his Flyers combined for 419 penalty minutes. At 6’3” and almost 240 pounds, this fellow was one you didn’t want to mess with on the ice.
#6. Chris Pronger
Pronger was often the biggest guy on the ice, so his 6’6” frame made him the perfect enforcer in the NHL. He wasn’t afraid to throw his weight around, earning two suspensions in the same playoff year. Throughout his career, he would end up with eight separate suspensions.
Everyone who plays professional hockey will get into a scrap or two over their career. These enforcers were unafraid to make contact when needed. Who were your favorite players that were always willing to throw down?