6 best goalie fights in NHL history

Mike Vernon, left, and Patrick Roy delivered one of the best goalie fights in NHL history. (Photo via Reuters)
Mike Vernon, left, and Patrick Roy delivered one of the best goalie fights in NHL history. (Photo via Reuters) (Rebecca Cook)

Written by Staff

Love them or hate them, there's no denying fights are a staple of NHL games. Some players have even become fan favorites due to their brawling skills on the ice.

With that being said, it's much less common to catch fights between goalies. Whether it's thanks to their cooler temperaments or bulky pads, it's not often that you'll find a goalie throwing down. But when tensions get high and fists start flying, goalies have been known to deliver some of the best punch-ups in the history of the sport.

So in honor of the netminders who dropped their mitts to jump into the action, here are six of the best goalie fights in NHL history.

1. Patrick Roy versus Chris Osgood (1998)

Topping off the list is one of the most iconic goalie bouts: the 1998 fight between Patrick Roy and Chris Osgood. The two goalies were caught up in one of the greatest rivalries in NHL history — the Colorado Avalanche vs. the Detroit Red Wings — which brewed the perfect storm for a brawl.

It all started with an argument between the Avalanche's Warren Rychel and the Red Wings' Bob Rouse, which soon erupted into a bigger scuffle. But it didn't take long before Roy decided he wanted a taste of the action, challenging Osgood to their own one-on-one match.

What ensued was one of the most legendary goalie showdowns. Roy and Osgood got into a spirited fight, with Roy landing some powerful punches to drive his rival back across the rink. But it was Osgood who had the last laugh when he wrestled Roy down and pinned him to the ice.

2. Patrick Roy versus Mike Vernon (1997)

In yet another matchup between the Red Wings and Avalanche, Roy decided to drop the gloves a year before his infamous fight against Osgood.

This particular game was destined to be violent long before Roy got into the action. A line brawl broke out first, which led to multiple skirmishes across the rink. The massive fight, dubbed “Bloody Wednesday,” turned into an all-out war between the two teams.

Roy pulled Mike Vernon off his teammate in the midst of the fight, which escalated to both of them dropping their gear and going at it. The two exchanged blows, going back and forth before Vernon took Roy down to the ice with an MMA move.

3. Ray Emery versus Martin Biron (2007)

This goalie fight may have been short, but it was definitely legendary. Ray Emery of the Ottawa Senators faced off against Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, with a clear winner emerging in a matter of seconds.

That’s right. It took less than 10 seconds for Emery to drop Biron on the ice. After landing five straight punches — smiling and laughing the whole time — he had Biron pinned.

4. Ray Emery versus Braden Holtby (2013)

In the middle of an embarrassing loss against the Washington Capitals, tensions were high for the Philadelphia Flyers. Facing a 7-0 deficit, the Flyers’ frustration exploded into an all-out brawl.

Once the fighting broke out, Emery skated down the rink to pick a fight with Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who wanted nothing to do with the violence. Whether he was a willing participant or not, it didn’t matter. Holtby was pulled into the fight and was thoroughly thrashed by Emery. After Emery threw him across the ice, Holtby took 13 punches that definitively ended the fight.

5. Rick DiPietro versus Brent Johnson (2011)

Near the end of a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders, a scuffle broke out between New York goalie Rick DiPietro and Pittsburgh winger Matt Cooke. With just 16.5 seconds left on the clock, this turned into an unexpected, but memorable, fight between goalies.

Seeing the action from across the ice, Brent Johnson decided he was ready for a scrap. Johnson hollered to DiPietro, who nodded in affirmation. They met on the ice and it all ended with one surprise left hook from Johnson, busting Dipietro’s face in and knocking him out of the fight in one blow. If the humiliation of being dropped in less than a second wasn’t bad enough, DiPietro spent the next six weeks out of action while healing from his facial fractures.

6. Ron Hextall versus Felix Potvin (1996)

Now considered one of the best goalie fights of all time, this 1996 scrap all started after the Flyers took a 3-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The tension had been building all game between these rival teams, so it didn’t take much to spark a fight. Leafs goaltender Felix Potvin set the whole thing in motion when he slashed at the legs of Flyers forward Daniel Lacroix.

Players from both teams paired up and started brawling, but Potvin was left mostly unscathed in the melee. That was until Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall — who had a reputation for his fearsome temper and formidable size — decided to get in on the action.

Throwing down his stick, mask and gloves, he charged right at Potvin, throwing a few fists to his face and kicking off one of the best goalie clashes in NHL history. The two were locked up on the ice in what seemed to be a stalemate, trading blows back and forth.

While Hextall had the size advantage, Potvin brought boxing experience to the table. He not only held his own but also left his opponent with a huge gash on his forehead.

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