Fighting has always been a staple in the NHL and skaters brawling is a fairly common occurrence, but fights between the goaltenders is rare. So when they do occur, the spectacle makes goalie fights a must-see marquee matchup. This is the top 5 goalie fights in NHL history!
Number 5- Robert Esche vs Patrick Lalime March 5, 2004
This list opens with one of the many fights during the famous Flyers vs Senators brawl on March 5, 2004. Rob Ray and Donald Brashear started fighting in Esche’s crease, which eventually slipped over into the right faceoff circle. After that scrum ended, Brashear went after Brian Pothier, which sparked a full line brawl which took place right in front of Esche’s crease. Esche took off his glove and blocker to help Sami Kapanen, who was tied up with Antoine Vermette, thus drawing Lalime from the other end of the ice. The two tied up for almost 40 seconds and each landed multiple shots. It was broken up by the refs once they ended up against the corner boards.
This was the second fight of Esche’s career, the first being against forward Jochen Hecht during his time with the Coyotes after being run into while playing the puck behind the net.
Number 4-Ray Emery vs Martin Biron February 22, 2007
Another line brawl that involved the Senators almost exactly three years after their brawl with the Flyers. This one started when notorious enforcer Patrick Kaleta shoved Dany Heatley before a faceoff. Once the puck dropped, Kaleta hit Jason Spezza hard and a line brawl ensued. Emery, who was no stranger to fighting in the AHL, squared up to Biron, and the look he shot Biron right before they touched was priceless. Emery landed six straight punches and dropped Biron in less than 10 seconds. “Sugar Ray” had Biron pinned to the ice until Biron grasped Emery’s pad and pulled him down too. As both goalies got to their feet ready for round two, Sabre Andrew Peters skated over and locked up with Emery. Peters’ arm length helped him land multiple punches to Emery. The fight was broken up by officials. Ray Emery had a smile on his face through both fights, the absolute madman.
Number 3- Felix Potvin vs Ron Hextall November 10, 1996
This brawl was started after Flyers forward Daniel Lacroix crushed Leaf Wendell Clark at the final buzzer and all hell broke loose. It didn’t take long for Hextall and Potvin to get involved. They removed each others masks and threw haymakers for almost 30 seconds straight. They remained intertwined for about a full minute before they separated. Hextall saluted the frenzied Spectrum as he was lead to the Flyers locker room.
Number 2- Patrick Roy vs Chris Osgood April 1, 1998
Few hockey rivalries were ever as heated as the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche were during the mid-to-late 1990’s. This fight was actually the sequel to one that happened just a year prior when Roy fought Mike Vernon. There was some late pushing and shoving after the whistle in front of the Avalanche bench, which culminated in all 10 skaters in the pile up. After the officials failed to break up the mixup, Roy skated over to join in the pile. Osgood hesitantly skated down to meet Roy, who was being held back by a ref. The pair eventually met up at center ice and engaged in a spirited fight. Roy got the better of it, but Osgood more than held his own. Osgood scored the takedown, and pinned Roy to the ice as a ref desperately tried to pull them apart. The crowd in Detroit was chanting “Ozzy” to show their support for Chris Osgood. After the two were separated and taken to their respective locker rooms, Roy mockingly saluted the Red Wings fans on his way out.
Number 1- Patrick Roy vs Mike Vernon March 26, 1997
The prequel to his fight against Osgood, Roy dropped the gloves with Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon in a game filled with fights. A line brawl broke out when Igor Larionov tied up with Peter Forsberg. This led to multiple fights breaking out across the ice and both goalies were ready to drop the gloves too. As Roy skated to center ice to help his teammates, he was intercepted with a clothesline by Brendan Shanahan. Roy got turned inside out by the hit which gave Vernon time to make it to center ice. Shanahan and Adam Foote were in a simultaneous melee with the goalies, but they separated into two fights. The two exchanged blows and Vernon took Roy down with a double leg. Refs broke it up soon after. The fight itself wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the fight against Osgood, but the way Roy went flying after the clothesline from Shanahan as well as Vernon using an MMA move to take Roy down is worthy of the number one spot.
Tommy Salo vs. Dan Cloutier April 4, 1998
Another heated rivalry during the 1990’s was the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders. Tensions were high late in the third period when the Islanders held a 3-0 lead, and when two Rangers ganged up on Zdeno Chara, it was on. The line brawl raged on for several minutes, but Salo, who was playing for the Islanders, got involved in a scrum by his net. Cloutier raced down from the other end of the ice to meet him. They were tangled up for many seconds until Cloutier was able to get his jersey off. He proceeded to beat the crap out of Salo, who was down on the ice just trying to protect himself. After easily beating Salo, Cloutier went and challenged the whole Islanders bench. He engaged in a war of words until he was finally, literally, dragged by the referee to his bench.
Ray Emery vs Braden Holtby November 1, 2013
Did you think I was gonna leave this one out? After Caps forward Joel ward completed his hat trick when Emery’s mask fell off, tensions were high. The game was 7-0 in favor of the Capitals and on the following faceoff, Wayne Simmonds threw two big checks and a brawl broke out. Once the fighting started, Emery raced down the ice to drop the gloves with Braden Holtby, who wanted none of him. Emery rag-dolled Holtby across the ice, landing 13 punches to the venerable man. Emery tackled him to the ice and that ended their fight while two others broke out in the meantime.
Garth Snow vs Steve Shields May 3, 1997
Yet another Flyer to appear on this list, Snow, much like the Esche fight, got involved because the fight happened right in front of his crease. The fight spilled into Snow, who responded by joining in and Shields was on his way. Snow was separated from the brawl and when he turned around Shields was waiting. The two originally were separated by teammates and refs, but they met again around center ice and when Snow ripped Shields’ mask off it was on. there was actually a lineman between them as they started brawling and he was ducking to save his face. He got out of the way and the two goalies engaged in a solid bout at the Sabres bench. They were once again separated, this time by multiple refs who took each man to his respective bench.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: youtube.com