With the NHL playoffs in full swing, hockey’s best can be seen showcasing their talents in highly charged games where tempers flare and fists fly. While some players use their speed, agility, and quickness to their advantage, others use their strength, size and power. It is this latter group that often sets the game’s tone - delivering some devastating hits that knock out more than just a few teeth.
As with most contact sports there’s always the enforcers who make their presence known with a not so warm welcome to the body and/or head. This holds especially true in the NHL, where those with no fear use their big, imposing bodies as projectiles to slam into their opponents. Anyone sharing the rink with these skating menaces are fully aware that their health is always in jeopardy.
Over the years, there have been plenty of enforcers on the ice who slammed their share of guys into the boards and out of the game. Here’s our top 5 of the hardest hitting NHL players of all time:
5. Cam Neely
One of the most feared players in the game, Cam Neely was just as comfortable delivering a bone-crunching, bodycheck as scoring a goal. Never taking kindly to those opposing players who got in his way, Neelys mission was to basically steamroll anyone who crossed his path. It was that mentality that led to 395 goals in just 726 regular-season games. It was also that mentality that landed him in the penalty box more often than the Hansen brothers. "If theres a straight line to the net, thats what he took," said Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli. "Whether theres a player he had to punch his lights out to get there, in his way, he would do it."
4. Alex Ovechkin
Just like Neely, Ovechkin has shown he’ll do whatever it takes to put the puck in the net. With mad skate and stick skills, he scored 301 goals in his first six seasons with the Washington Capitals. But unlike most top scorers who prefer to stray from contact, Ovechkin appears to seek it, showing no hesitancy to launch his frame into a defenseman at full speed. While his scoring goes up so does his hit count, and the youtube clicks of his lethal bodychecks. Check out the one below.
3. Dion Phaneuf
If Dion Phaneuf is on the ice you can be sure someone is going to be laid out at some point during the game. What he may have lacked in offensive abilities early in his career, he made up for with a highlight reel of crushing bodychecks that leveled opponents. Establishing himself as an intimidating force, Phaneuf’s hard hits have done some serious damage to the psyche and body of those wearing a different uniform. In one memorable sequence, Phaneuf took out two opposing players virtually at the same time in what will forever been known as the double Phaneuf.
2. Rob Blake
Like The Beatles and Michael Jackson, Rob Blake kept putting out the hits throughout his long career. Only his hits left others bloody, wobbly, and wondering what the hell just smacked into them. While Blake used his strength and toughness to run down and over the competition, it was his “big ass” - his adversaries would say - that gave him the edge when slamming a player into the boards. No doubt, Blake was among the best butt-checkers in the league, and he wasn’t shy about using it.
1. Scott Stevens
Check out any list of hockey’s hardest hitters and you’ll likely find Stevens taking the top spot – and for good reason – he was a one-man wrecking crew on skates. Fittingly nicknamed "Captain Crunch," few players, if any, hit harder and left more carnage in their wake. With a bounty of bodychecks, Stevens could change the momentum of a game with a devastating check. "Hitting is part of the game," Stevens said. "Thats the bottom line. I get hit and Im going to give a hit." He just did it better and harder than everyone else.