Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Top 10 Toronto Maple Leaf fights of all-time

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:
  1. Hey, I like this guy, he seems a little crazy.
  2. Wow, this guy is completely insane, he's awesome.
  3. You know, this whole "crazy" thing is wearing a little thin.
  4. I'm tired of this guy, he's dangerous and unhinged and I don't enjoy cheering for 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...

Much better!

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.

And then...

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.)

Honorable Mentions


  1. That-Time-Wendel-Clark-Fought-Marty-McSorley Goes Brown

    It's got a nice ring to it.

  2. Great post but Belak's last great moment was his one punch KO on Brashear.

  3. This must have been a fun one to research.

    Great post, but I can't believe the greatest moustache vs. moustache fight in NHL history didn't even get an honourable mention!

  4. I'm about to get kicked out of the library for the wild cheering mixed with laughter that this post caused. Man the Potvin-Hextall fight makes the world a better place.

  5. Ah Domi, a true renaissance man.. Hockey player, pugilist, amateur medic.. "HAY RON YER BLEEDIN, RIGHT HERE! *points*"

    Great moment, I love that Potvin fight.

  6. I know that it might not fit the criteria, but the Chara/McCabe fight always gets a laugh out of me.

  7. A few thoughts:

    1)I miss Harry Neale. How can someone be so mild mannered and yet so badass at the same time?

    2)Hextall points at the scoreboard, but nobody remembers the score of that game. The only score we remember is Potvin 1, Hextall 0.

    3)Harry Neale is awesome, seriously. Maybe it's his absence that makes Joe Bowen unbearable, but how they let him get away I simply cannot figure out.

  8. I wonder if any of these will be replaced by Schenn vs. Neil V2 or Schenn's fist vs. any guy's face by the end of this season.

    I hope so.

  9. Yeah, I get the feeling this season is gonna cause a bit of change to that list.

  10. DGB you are the king of Maple Leaf fight arcana and this post is laugh out loud funny.

  11. I was 10 when Felix tuned Hexy. I watched the whole game and remember it vividly. I was so excited then, and I am so excited now.

  12. Jason M (leaf fan stuck in Ottawa)September 22, 2009 at 10:29 PM

    Domi vs. the Philly dumbass is Harry Neale's greatest career moment. Period, end of discussion.

  13. @DownGoesBrown

    When did Harry Neale say that? I demand a clip!

  14. It was a media quote from 2000-2001.

    Then-mayor of Ottawa Bob Chiarelli called out Neale and Cole as homers.

    Neale responded by saying that "if fans in Ottawa don't like my commentary they can take a big bite out of my ass."

    Or something along those lines.

  15. "the least truculent moment of all time"

    I think you nailed that. Stupid cowardly Maurice. I'd maybe put the Belak fight higher 'cause it was really epic. Also, Lefebvre-Brown could move up a notch or two.

    Great post.

  16. Nylund/Probert, about 1986. Probert goes for the hair pull, Nylund teaches Tucker the merits of beating your opponent over the head with his own helmet:


  17. what about Marchment-Rivet


  18. Uhmm, I think you're forgetting one.


    That's TRUCULENCE!!

  19. Ryan...

    You can't have a great moustache fight unless Harold Snepts is involved.

  20. Durno speaks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv7ZEjeDC2U&feature=sub

  21. Surprise! Damien Cox denounced hockey fighting in the star today.

    That man is softer than Tlusty at the Brass Rail.

  22. I like how Wendel didn't really start hitting McSorley until after the cameras switched (usually a toe tag is being applied to his opponent by this point).
    It's as though he wanted the world to see what happens.

  23. Todd Gill has been my 2nd favourite Leaf of all time since I was 10 years old.
    I think he and Wendel are actually clones of each other. What happened was they wanted a highly mobile d man who would never back down and always played to win (even when they were trailing by 5 with 2 to go).
    They made Gill first. Sort of like creating a player in NHL10,they gave him waaaaay to much truculence-99 aggression,99 checking and not enough size (185lbs). The lab tech added waaay too much P&V and not enough HGH.
    So they went back to the drawing board,added 10 lbs and a 99 wrist shot rating and voila! Wendel Clark.
    Please do something to educate the world about the awesomness of Todd Gill,easily the 2nd greastest Dman in Leaf history (Borje is #1).

  24. Hextall should have been taken to task for deliberately trying to take advantage of Felix Potvin in that fight. Hextall knew Felix was a non-fighter and thought he could score an easy knockout. Glad karma took care of that fight and Felix tuned him up. Seriously, Hextall is a douchebag.

  25. todd gill as the 2nd best leaf d man - that is rich. even in the dgb version of leaf history (80's onward) gill is nowhere near the top 6. i think a post of the top ten gill giveaways is in order. perhaps a compare and contrast of mccabe's gaffes and gill's as a follow up. jim korn and benning could also use a similiar post.

  26. I am no fan of Slava Fetisov, but the fact that Wendel Clark cross-checked him in the face makes the one-punch knockout much less impressive. Wendel Clark was tough enough that he didn't need to be a dirty SOB. As for the Brooke fight, well, I don't have any respect for a hockey player who punches a guy while he's sitting on his chest.