No, Alexander Edler did not make the list. Sweet hit though.

Happy Halloween!

As most people who’ve ever played contact hockey know, fear is a real element of the game. To not play with any is an advantage. To instill it in others is a strength.

Me? Well, I had it, and didn’t instill it in others, so I feel qualified to speak on this.

In honor of Halloween, I give to you hockey’s five scariest hitters.

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First off, our honorable mentions – Zdeno Chara and Chris Pronger who likely be top-10-ers based on sheer size, but neither are the definition of a pure body-check artist. They’re just huge, powerful men. Shea Weber and Douglas Murray are definitely in the top 5 debate too.

Cal Clutterbuck led the league in hits last year, and is one off the lead again this year. But, frequency doesn’t necessarily mean scary.

Alex Ovechkin deserves mention for being an elite scorer and finishing 10th in the NHL in hits last season (whether you think the stats are inaccurate or not, that’s impressive). Oh, and he once did this to Jaromir Jagr.

And last, Ben Eager just missed out. He’s built like a bowling ball, skates particularly well and can be reckless about it. I would be crazy-scared to play him.

But, crazy-scared doesn’t begin to describe playing the next five guys. In order, starting with…

5. Matt Martin, New York Islanders
    6’3″ - 210lbs

Here’s the League’s most underrated body checkist.

Like Clutterbuck, the Islanders Matt Martin has no problem with consistency. In 68 games played in which he averaged around 10 minutes of ice time per, Martin managed to finish 4th in the leauge in hits, with 1 shy of 300.

He gets the nod over Clutterbuck for the sheer venom with which he plays. He doesn’t finish his checks to make coach happy so he can get more ice time. He’s a brute that wants to put players in the 4th row with glass in their equipment. And that’s scary.

Who puts down Hal Gill twice?

4. David Backes
6’3″ – 216lbs

I had the privilege of playing against David Backes in college for a couple years, and learned one thing: he does not want to chat or be buddy-buddy. There are certain players you just want to tell to calm down sometimes, and that’s the case with Backes. “It’s only a game” is not a thought he’s ever had.

He reminds me of a gun-strapped soldier bravely crossing enemy lines…for the sheer purpose of liking hand-to-hand combat.

Oh, and he hits like a goddam truck.

That’s one of dozens of YouTube clips that start with “David Backes destroys” or “David Backes rocks.”

3. Milan Lucic
6’4″ – 220lbs

“6’4″, 220 is a good place to start. When you see big guys near other big guys, you tend to lose perspective on just how big they are. If you spent some time near Lucic you’d realize – that is just so, so much human.

And considering the amount of time that he’s on the ice, the anger with which he plays, and how well he skates (not to mention his good balance), and you have a recipe for pain.

At least the pain is a maybe. The fear thing is for sure.

2. Niklas Kronwall
6’0″ 190

Wait, what? 6’0″ 190 and dude trucks opposing forwards so often this video got made? That’s incredible.

If I were a winger on the ice against him I’d swing so low for breakouts you’d think I was a third d-man. He’s the type of guy who actually makes you change how you play, his timing and balance are just that good. Check out the hit on Dany Heatley from last year once more for good measure.

Also, remember that Heatley is HUGE himself.

1. Dion Phaenuf
6’3″ – 214lbs

Phaneuf is demonstrating with regularity that he can time open-ice hits like Scott Stevens, and we haven’t seen that in awhile. Despite that fact, the worst part about playing him is that he seems like the type of miserable prick (on-ice) who thrives on crumbling collarbones. He looks for those hits so he can feast.

And it’s only going to get worse – Steve Dangle shared with us the evolution of this menace’s program pictures. He’s just getting angrier.

Gahhhh arrest this madman now. What does he do for an encore next year, just balance a gun on his head?

You could sit on YouTube for hours watching his collection. Hey look, here’s a good one:

Despite all the NHL players that can strike fear into the hearts of opponents with simply shoulders, for my money, Dion comes out on top.

Comments (17)

  1. Love that the Dion hit you chose is absolutely huge, BUT takes him out of position to give up a scoring chance!!!! so perfect for Phaneuf

  2. Also, agree with the tweet about Tootoo. Only guy who when he hits the ice I start willing the Canucks stars to go off for a line change… hits are generally clean, but he hits to hurt

  3. douglas murray doesnt make the top 5? is this a top 5 hits or top 5 hitters? milan lucic made one big hit…same with backes

  4. Murray could’ve easily made the top five. And to say that Lucic and Backes have “one big hit” is obviously underrating him. Lucic hammers everything that moves, all the time.

  5. Dion’s next photo more or less has to be a mugshot, right?

  6. Agreed with how underrated Martin is as a hitter, but he is also underrated as a player too. Most people just think he is a goon now after that game against the penguins but he does have skill and creates a lot of scoring chances from his physical play.

  7. just to be an ass, that clip of Backes doesnt even start with “David Backes destroys” or “David Backes rocks.” its “nails”

  8. Too bad TooToo didn’t make the list… My all time fave is when he lays out Modano and Robidas does due diligence by sauntering over to have a word and ends up getting demo’d by a TooToo fist for his troubles… Classic.

  9. I’d have to say the best “left off the list” guy is Jordan Tootoo, solid points all around. Douglas Murray got honorable mention, but let’s be honest – any of those names around #5 are pretty interchangeable. They’re all killers.

    Chris Keating – Hahaha, exacccctly. It’s part of the natural progression.

  10. Next list: Top 5 reverse hitters??? I’d like to see your list on that JB… I know Oshie is a killer at that, and so are a few under 6 footer’s… Who your top 5 is, that have the street cred to back defenders off instead of going full force into those guys into the corner boards??

  11. How about the top 5 guys who always get crushed by hits?

  12. Don’t get me wrong, I like solid hits as much as the next guy, but is it just me or are hits 3,4,5 just plain stupid? And that shattered glass could have literally blinded the fans sitting in the front row.

  13. Douglas Murray is #1.

    And there is a gap to #2.

  14. The person who made this list must not know who Johnny Boychuck is…

    Boychuck eats forwards for breakfast: Ellis, Skinner, Stajan, Ovechkin, Pouliot, E Staal, Thompson, Raymond, Stamkos, Gagne, Oreskovich, Dwyer, Booth, Cooke, Pandolfo, Shelly, Gionta, Prospal, MacArthur & Ryan White… Just to name a few…

    Then for a Snack some D-men: Coburn & Beauchemin…

    Check all those hits out on you tube, and there are so many others almost nightly that are not as epic but very Solid!

    Phanuef has played 529 games… Boychuck has put togather that impressive list and highlight reel in 194 games…

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