As you may have noticed, the Maple Leafs have finally entered the Brian Burke era. Sure, he's been around since last November, but only now are we seeing a team that plays the sort of game Burke wants. And as you may have noticed, that means the occasional scrap.
So this seems like as good a time as any to take a look back on some of the great fights in the Leafs history. (As always on DGB, "Leafs history" is defined as "from the time I started watching". So we're talking the mid-80s on.)
Let's start the countdown...
10. Wendel Clark vs. Viacheslav Fetisov
So let me get this straight: this fight is going to feature a cowardly Russian who rarely fights, and Wendel Clark. And also, Clark is angry. Hm. Can't imagine how this one will turn out.
Well, look on the bright side Slava. You did better than Cam Neely.
Years later, historians would credit this fight with ending the cold war.
9. Darcy Tucker vs. the Ottawa Senators
When it comes to players on the team you cheer for, there are five stages of crazy:
- Hey, I like this guy, he seems a little crazy.
- Wow, this guy is completely insane, he's awesome.
- You know, this whole "crazy" thing is wearing a little thin.
- I'm tired of this guy, he's dangerous and unhinged and I don't enjoy cheering for him.
- OH MY GOD HE JUST KAMIKAZIED THE OTHER TEAM'S BENCH, I WANT MY DAUGHTER TO MARRY HIM!
Seriously, the 2003 era Darcy Tucker probably should have been medicated.
8. Wendel Clark vs. Bob Brooke/Wendel Clark vs. David Mackey (tie)
Sorry, it's difficult to choose just one fight for the "Wendel Clark completely killing a Minnesota North Star" category.
Dear god, I miss the Norris division.
7. Mark Bell vs. the Ottawa Senators after the Alfredsson hit.
Oh wait, sorry, that was meant for my upcoming list of "10 Greatest Purse-Swingings".
Instead, let's go with:
7. Wade Belak vs. Cam Janssen
This fight was the much anticipated payback for Janssen's late hit that injured Tomas Kaberle and caused every Leaf on the ice to become intensely interested in their skates. Or, as we now refer to it, "the least truculent moment of all time".
This was also Belak's last great moment as an NHL heavyweight. He now plays for a team called the Nashville Predators, who I can only assume are in the KHL.
6. John Kordic vs. Basil McRae
By my count, Kordic and McRae fought about 700 times during Kordic's time in Toronto, and just about every one looked exactly like this.
(And yes, the entertainment value of fights like this alone should be enough to convince you that Kordic for Courtnall was a good trade. Don't pretend you didn't know I was bringing that up.)
5. Wendel Clark vs. Bob Probert
I always liked Bob Probert. He had his demons, but he seemed like an honorable guy on the ice. This fight was from the famous night when Probert returned to Canada for the first time after resolving his legal problems.
Thankfully, Probert eventually put an end to his personal cycle of self-destructive behaviour. Oh, he kept doing drugs and drinking for a few more years, but he stopped fighting Wendel.
4. Sylvain Lefebvre vs Rob Brown
Here's a tip: if you play for a team that wears black and red, and you wear #44, don't try to fight in Toronto. Isn't that right, Mike Peluso, Patrick Eaves, and especially Rob Brown?
Hm, that was a great clip but I can't help but feel like something was missing. Hmmm...
3. Tie Domi vs a fat Flyers fan
Here's an actual transcript of what's going through this fan's mind. "Hey, Domi just sprayed water on me, which technically ends my month-long streak of not bathing! I think I'll bang on the glass and try to look tough when I know he can't reach me. Hm, I wonder if this glass can support 300 lbs of cheesesteak and loneliness? No, apparently it can not. Oh god, I'm going to die. Also, I just soiled myself on national television. Go Flyers!"
Side note: Before this happened, if I told you that an NHL player would have a chance to speed bag a loudmouthed fan but it would be ruined at the last second by an over-eager linesman, you would have just assumed it was Kevin Collins, wouldn't you? Yes you would have.
2. Felix Potvin vs. Ron Hextall
You really had to be a Leafs fan in the mid-90s to understand how ridiculous this fight was. Ron Hextall was the scariest goaltender the league had seen since Billy Smith. Felix Potvin was a mild-mannered kid who, as far as we know, never spoke. When Hextall made his mad dash down the ice, every single Leaf fan was convinced that Potvin was about to die.
By the way, 1:35 might be my favorite Tie Domi moments of all-time.
Side note: If you're a Leafs fan and you want to feel the urge to slam your head through a windshield, watch this version of the same fight as called by the Flyers play-by-play team who are convinced Hextall has won handily even as he's squirting blood all over the first three rows.
And that brings us to the top spot on our list.
1. Tie Domi vs. Chris Neil
This may seem like a surprising choice, but when you factor in the circumstances I think you'll have to agree that it's deserving of ...
Oh, who am I kidding ...
1. Wendel Clark vs. Marty McSorley
Regular readers will know this was coming. I love this fight so much that I've not only written about it in detail, but I've also written about everything that happened right after it.
I don't have much to add, so I'll just say that if I ever have a son I'm going to name him That-Time-Wendel-Clark-Fought-Marty-McSorley Goes Brown.
That wraps up the list. Join me next week, when I'll be presenting a new list: The Top 100 Fights of the Maple Leafs 2009-10 Pre-Season. (Note: this one may be posted late, it will take some time to narrow it down.)
- Tie Domi vs. Magnus Arverdson
- Craig Berube vs. Basil McRae
- Ken Baumgartner vs. Cam Russell
- Darcy Tucker and Cam Janssen's helmet vs. Cam Janssen
- Todd Gill vs Joel Otto
- Todd Gill vs Robert Dirk
- Wendel Clark vs. Mark Tinordi
- Craig Berube vs. Gary Roberts
- The Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Stu Grimson's dignity
- Sean Burke vs. Mark LaForest
- Gary Leeman vs. Denis Savard
- Luke Schenn vs. Tyler Kennedy
- Tie Domi vs. Cam Russell (lifetime achievement award)
- Tie Domi vs. Rob Ray (lifetime achievement award)
- Leafs vs. Flames
- Wendel Clark vs. Kevin Maguire
- Ron Wilson vs. Howard Berger