It’s fight night in Las Vegas as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao FINALLY meet in their much-anticipated showdown. If they were NHL stars, however, they would’ve thrown down long ago, since the league’s best have never been shy about fighting each other over the past 10 years.
Fighting is better suited for the ring, not the rink, and that’s where it’ll be tonight, when boxing’s two biggest superstars, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, face off in the biggest fight in, well, all of human history.
Two boxers of this stature rarely step in the ring together, but it’s a significantly more frequent occurrence among the NHL’s elite players.
Here are the top 10 fights between NHL superstars since the 2004-05 lockout*:
10. Andrew Ladd-Gabriel Landeskog
Okay, so these two guys haven’t reached superstar status, and likely never will, but they’re still A-list players, and both are captains for their respective teams. Landeskog starts out strong until Ladd, who sneaks in some sick bodyshots, gets going. Let’s call this one a draw.
9. Ryan Kesler-Shea Weber
Whatever precipitated this 2009 fight, Weber is clearly pissed, and even takes at shot at Kesler while he’s down. Weber had the upper hand in this fight, but give credit to Kesler for not giving up, even after falling to the ice halfway through.
8. Sidney Crosby-Claude Giroux
This, uh, ‘fight’ makes the list because of the combatants. It was Round 1 of the 2012 playoffs, and the Pennsylvania rivalry had hit new heights. After jawing at each other, Crosby and Giroux finally fight in a brief bout that’s more notable for all the antics that surrounded it.
7. Ryan Kesler-Corey Perry
Kesler admitted he felt awkward upon his trade to the Anaheim Ducks due to two dustups with Perry, both in exhibition games, including this one from 2009. There must have been some serious dislike between them, because most stars prefer not to break a sweat in the pre-season, much less chuck knuckles.
6. Drew Doughty-Joe Thornton
‘Jumbo Joe’ schooled the ‘Doughboy’ in this scrap from 2012, but Doughty got the last laugh when his Los Angeles Kings came back from a 3-0 series deficit to beat Thornton’s San Jose Sharks in Round 1 of the 2014 playoffs, after which Doughty said he saw fear in Thornton’s eyes at the inevitable comeback.
5. Ryan Getzlaf-Joe Thornton
A fight doesn’t get more heated than one right off the opening face off in a playoff game between two superstar captains. Thornton edges out the decision with a quick uppercut and takedown at the end of this fight from 2009. He had been challenging Getzlaf all series until he finally got him to go.
4. Jamie Benn-Joe Thornton
One player spears the other in his nether region. Each asks the other if he wants to go, then both drop their buckets, circle each other, grab on and start throwing. The lead-up has all the hallmarks of a staged fight between goons, but it’s two stars squaring off in a spirited fight that’s short but sweet.
3. Pavel Datsyuk-Corey Perry
The game’s most sublime hands weren’t used solely for breaking players’ ankles and busting goalies’ spirits. While Detroit GM Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock were probably holding their collective breaths during this fight, Datsyuk had no fear of dancing with Perry, a sublime sniper in his own right.
2. Jamie Benn-Jarome Iginla
As far as pure pugilism goes, this is the best on the list. Benn and Iginla drop bombs in this tiring tilt from 2010. Iginla comes out much worse for the wear than Benn, who cuts and staggers Iginla early on, but ‘Iggy’ turns the tables on him in the second half and outlasts Benn the rest of the fight.
1. Jarome Iginla-Vincent Lecavalier
*All right, so technically this was before the lockout, but we’re not about to let a technicality (fewer than three months before the lockout) omit one of the best fights ever between superstars. And this one had everything: two captains, two top scorers going toe to toe in Game 3 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final.