NHL 100: A look at five notable tough guys in league history

NHL 100: A look at five tough guys

TORONTO — A notable list of pugilists have laced up the skates and also dropped the gloves in the National Hockey League over the years. In the latest edition of NHL 100, a weekly series from The Canadian Press, we look at just a few memorable tough guys:


There are several reasons why the man nicknamed Tiger is on top of this list. 

Williams was hard as nails on the ice, wasn’t afraid of anyone, and let his fists fly with regularity. 

He played from 1974 to ’88 and remains the NHL’s all-time leader with 3,966 penalty minutes.

Williams also hammed it up for the crowds by riding his stick like a broomstick when he found the back of the net.



Hunter offered an ideal mix of toughness and scoring savvy over his 19 NHL seasons.

The scrappy forward would fight when needed but also did a lot of the little things that made a difference. Hunter would take on all comers when he banged in the corners or if he stationed himself in front of the net. 

He retired with 1,020 points (323-697) and 3,565 penalty minutes.

Hunter was also known for delivering the odd cheap shot. His most infamous play came when he hammered Pierre Turgeon into the boards as he celebrated a goal.



Opposing players knew that if you messed with No. 99, you would have to answer to No. 27.

That’s the way it was during the Edmonton Oilers’ glory years in the 1980s. Semenko protected Wayne Gretzky and made sure The Great One had room on the ice.

Semenko didn’t have to fight all that often, although he certainly didn’t shy away from it. A wrecking ball of a right hand had a reputation of its own.

His mere presence on the ice was usually enough to deter others from getting physical with Gretzky and Edmonton’s other stars.



Probert spent 16 seasons in the NHL with Detroit and Chicago. Both were tough towns and Probert brought some of that edginess inside the arena, much to the delight of the home fans.

The Windsor, Ont., native would throw down with anyone and also posted impressive point totals on occasion.

Probert had four seasons of 40 points or more.

His best campaign came in 1987-88 when he had 62 points and a whopping 398 penalty minutes. 



At five foot 10, Domi often was a few inches shorter than his opponents when they squared off to fight.

He made up for it with an ability to deliver stiff uppercuts and vicious haymakers that saw even the most imposing dance partners hit the ice.

Domi provided many memorable moments over his 16-season NHL career. He had a series of scraps with Bob Probert and once even tried to take on two Dallas Stars players in one fight.  

There was also an infamous encounter with a fan in Philadelphia. 

Domi squirted water at fans from the penalty box and a fan took exception. He came barrelling over the glass and absorbed a few shots from Domi before officials broke things up. 

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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