Goalies are typically quirky, ritualistic and odd. Some are passive, others combative and usually not prone to throwing down when things go sideways on the ice. However, there have been some noted goaltending pugilists that have shown a penchant for throttling their opposing number. If the league handed out a belt for the netminder heavyweight crown, guys like Patrick Roy and Ray Emery could have challenged for it. Quiet and unassuming Felix Potvin has also had his fisticuff forays documented during his career in Toronto and Los Angeles. More often than not, the goalies are the last to engage in a brawl, usually settling to stand near the net and watch the proceedings. However, when they do get involved it’s almost comical. Like two overdressed gladiators wading slowly into the Coliseum, seeing who can hit who first, with mixed results.
10. Ray Emery (Philadelphia Flyers) vs. Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals), Nov. 1, 2013
Ray Emery is one tough customer. Just ask Washington Capitals’ netminder Braden Holtby. The play that started the melee involved Emery having his mask knocked off after Washington made the score 7-0. Egos bruised and goalie battered, Philly was out for some blood revenge after the ensuing face off. Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds lit the powder keg, hitting two Caps and then taking on Washington tough guy Tom Wilson. Emery, clearly agitated from the goal mouth incident, raced down the ice to pummel Holtby into submission. For his sins, Emery got an instigator penalty, leaving the crease penalty, a misconduct and game misconduct. Oh yah, and the Flyers still lost 7-0.
9. Patrick Roy (Colorodo Avalanche) vs. Mike Vernon (Detroit Red Wings), Mar. 26, 1997
Patrick Roy, or St. Patrick as he was known during his Hall of Fame career, certainly displayed some un-saintly behaviour during his playing days. Combative as a rule, Roy and the rest of the Avs had a hate on for the Wings and vice versa, especially after Avs’ pest Claude Lemieux infamously ran the Wings Kris Draper in the ’96 playoffs. During the next year’s late season game, several fights erupted in the first period. One of which Vernon decided to be third man in, grabbing an Avs’ player tussling with a Wing. Seeing that, Roy grabbed Vernon and began tossing rights, before Vernon responded by throwing him to the ice.
8. Felix Potvin (Toronto Maple Leafs) vs. Ron Hextall (Philadelphia Flyers), Nov. 10, 1996
There is something about Philadelphia that always brings out the worst in the Flyers and visiting teams. Hextall, known affectionately as “Hack-stall”, was a notorious agitator during his 13 -year career, racking up over 100 penalty minutes three times. Potvin, no shrinking violet, squared off a couple of times too, with his Hextall fight being a classic. At the end of a 3-1 Flyers win, a Maple Leafs defenseman slapped a late puck at the Flyers, igniting a line brawl. The bigger Hextall raced to the Leafs end, immediately engaging Potvin. Both tenders threw numerous bombs, with Potvin even changing hands. The fight ended when both signalled they’re too tired.
7. Rick Dipietro (New York Islanders) vs. Brent Johnson (Pittsburgh Penguins), Feb. 2, 2011
With his history of injury problems, you’d think Dipietro would have tried to avoid fighting at all. Late in a game against the Penguins, Dipietro got run by Pittsburgh super pest Matt Cooke. This touched off a brouhaha in the corner near Dipietro’s net, with Cooke taking the brunt of some payback. Meanwhile, Dipietro and Johnson chirped at each other, eventually challenging each other to a scrap. To the delight of the crowd, Johnson met Dipietro near the blue line (sans face mask) and in one punch, ended the fight. Oft injured Dipietro missed another whack of games with facial fractures and a swollen knee.
6. Garth Snow (Philadelphia Flyers) vs. Steve Shields (Buffalo), May 3, 1997
Philadelphia goalies seem to have embraced the whole “Broadstreet Bullies” thing over the years. Garth Snow, now GM of the New York Islanders, decided during a playoff game brawl to put his glove in the face of Sabres’ tough guy Rob Ray as he scrapped with Flyers enforcer Dan Kordic. To Shields, who skated 200 feet to challenge, this was a big no-no. The guy who got the worst of the altercation? The linesman trying to separate them. Snow and Shields chucked the knuckles, oblivious to the poor zebra, who tried to duck. At one point near the Buffalo bench, Shields tossed a few shots right over top of the hapless linesman.
5. Patrick Lalime (Ottawa Senators) vs. Byron Dafoe (Boston Bruins), Jan. 17, 2002
As goalie fights go, this was as lopsided as they get. Decision: Dafoe. In the third period of a one-sided game in favour of Boston, the Bruins scored to make it 5-1. Boston’s Bill Guerin took exception to a late hit on the scorer, Hal Gill, and went after Ottawa’s Chris Neil in retaliation. Lalime, sensing Guerin getting the upper hand, jumped in to the aid of Neil. Dafoe would have none of that, charging to the Sens’ end to engage Lalime. Before Lalime could say “Tabernacle”, Dafoe got his face mask off and starting landing right handed haymakers. Lalime took one wild swing and then ate four more bombs before succumbing.
4. Felix Potvin (Los Angeles Kings) vs. Jane Hurme (Ottawa Senators), Dec. 20, 2001
Jani Who? Prior to Sens’ starter Lalime’s beating in Beantown, journeyman backup Hurme nearly got his block knocked off at home vs. the Kings and Felix Potvin. Five years removed from a classic punch-up with Ron Hextall, Potvin took matters into his own hands with Ottawa goon Andre Roy after Roy got in his face. After a couple of punches with Roy, Potvin floated around the line brawl, clearly ticked off. Hurme charged down the ice to get Potvin and the two engaged in a spirited tussle, accentuated by Hurme guiding Potvin to his bench so one of his teammates could take his blocker off for him.
3. Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) vs. Jonathan Bernier (Toronto Maple Leafs), Sept. 22, 2013
As ugly games go, this tilt between rivals Buffalo and Toronto featured a host of transgressions. And it was just an exhibition game. Let’s see, David Clarkson got 10 games for leaving the bench in a line brawl, while Phil Kessel did his best lumberjack impression taking swings at Sabres’ goon John Scott. Figuring 17 years was long enough for a Leafs’ goalie not to have engaged in fisticuffs (the last being Potvin’s tilt with Hextall in ’96), Bernier skated about 150 feet to duke it out with Miller. Once Bernier was able to shake loose from most of his protective gear, he pummeled Miller to a pulp with a great series of right hands.
2. Ray Emery (Ottawa Senators) vs. Martin Biron (Buffalo Sabres), Feb. 22, 2007
‘Sugar’ Ray Emery could hold his head high after this tilt, which actually turned into a three-way brawl after Buffalo’s designated hitter Justin Peters jumped Emery as well. As he once had Mike Tyson painted on his mask, boxing fan Emery skated smiling down the ice to engage Biron during a line brawl. He calmly removed his mask, smiled some more and then began to give Biron a thorough thrashing in front of a partisan Sabres’ crowd. Peters decided Biron had had enough, and grabbed a still grinning Emery to settle the score. Emery, for his part, avoided most of Peters’ attempted jabs, allowing the linesmen to break it up.
1. Patrick Roy (Colorado Avalanche) vs. Chris Osgood (Detroit Red Wings), Apr. 1, 1998
It was the hockey equivalent of the perfect storm in the late 1990s — yet another Red Wings-Avalanche tilt, post-Claude Lemieux cheap shot on Kris Draper. Down 2-0 to the hometown Wings, Avs’ Warren Rychel decided to spice things up by roughing it up with Bob Rouse of the Wings. Yet another Wings-Avs line brawl erupted, with Roy and Osgood spectating, to start. Roy, who never met a melee he didn’t like, challenged the smaller Osgood to go. Roy, clearly chirping his counterpart, grappled with Osgood, throwing several good haymakers. Osgood responded to a lesser extent, before wrestling Roy to the ice. Decision: St. Patrick.