Everyone loves a good fight in a hockey game. And I mean a good fight. Not the ones that are obviously staged, where everyone throws their gloves down at the same time like they’re on a synchronized swimming team. I’m talking the fights that break out from the pure electricity and buzz of the game itself, those fights that are truly “in the moment”. They can be momentum-shifters in the right games.
One thing we don’t see much of anymore are genuine “line brawls”, where everyone on the ice gets into the fight. Everyone can name a few iconic brawls through the last 20 years or so. We’ve compiled five of the better Red Wings’ line brawls for your viewing pleasure.
5. Red Wings vs. Ducks – 05/12/2009
This fight gets on more as an honorable mention, mainly because DATSYUK FOUGHT SOMEONE. I half-expected him to bust out some sweet Russian military-style guerrilla street fighting moves or something. But I digress. Any playoff game is going to be heated, and tensions during this game, or rather after Anaheim won it 2-1 to force a Game 7, boiled over, and you can see the results.
4. Red Wings vs. Blackhawks – 01/11/1987
There’s one thing that Gary Nylund forgot the night that the Red Wings and Blackhawks duked it out late in the game on January 11th, 1987; Bob Probert was a crazy S.O.B. It didn’t affect the outcome of the game at all, but it definitely sent the message that the Red Wings wouldn’t be pushed around, mainly as long as Probert was on their roster.
3. Red Wings (Bob Probert) vs. Buffalo Sabres – 12/23/1987
As I stated previously, Bob Probert was an absolute beast. After the Sabres take exception to the Red Wings running their goaltender, they decided to take an eye for an eye and do the same. In the ensuing scrum, Kevin Maguire decides to take on captain Steve Yzerman; an apparent no-no in Probert’s book. He decides to take on Maguire to teach him the error of his ways, as well as holding off the advances of their goaltender in the process.
2. Red Wings vs. Blues – 04/13/1997
Oh man, the Red Wings and Blues used to actually be rivals? Could have fooled me. (Speaking from a few years ago, anyway). Another great rivalry brawl, it was one that helped fuel the momentous Red Wings into the playoffs, to help break their Cup drought dating back to 1955. They would eventually dispatch the Blues, “Mighty Ducks”, and Avalanche on the way to the Finals that year.
1. Red Wings vs. Avalanche “The Brawl in Hockeytown” – 03/26-1997
I think we all knew this one was coming. The infamous “Brawl in Hockeytown”, March 26th, 1997. Otherwise known as “the day Lemieux turtled”. After breaking Red Wings’ forward Kris Draper’s nose the previous year on a very dirty hit, Darren McCarty took the brawl as the opportunity to get revenge, because in his words, “hockey players have long memories”. The fight was seen as a turning point in the Red Wings’ late season, giving them a momentous push into the post-season, and eventually fueling them to their first Stanley Cup in 42 years, ironically on a game-winning/series-winning goal from McCarty himself.
You can take the fight out of hockey, but you can’t take the fight out of the players.