The Penguins have never shied away from dropping the mitts throughout the years. Today begins the first season reviewing the last ten seasons in fights for the Penguins on PensBurgh!
I had myself quite a trainwreck of a day today, and wanted to punch any and everyone I encountered in the face. Unfortunately, I can’t, and probably shouldn’t do that.
Fortunately in hockey, the Pittsburgh Penguins can, and often do just that. It started me on a wormhole of the best fights of the Penguins on YouTube and I quickly realized 2010-11 was of the most memorable years ever for the Penguins in terms of fighting. I have since been watching Penguins hockey fights for the last three hours and it made me think of a great series to broadcast to PensBurgh with the help of hockeyfights.com.
Fighting may be steadily disappearing from today’s game, but it’s still one of the most unique and influential aspects of hockey. Just ask Max Talbot (circa 2009) if fights actually make a difference in a game. Fighting may not be common these days, but they still exist for a reason.
So sit back and get ready to go down quite a wild roller coaster as we take you through the last ten years in fights for the Pittsburgh Penguins starting with the colossal season of 2010-11 for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins were tied (with BOS) for second most in the NHL that season with 71 fights in the record books. Some were duds, but there were also some of the most memorable fights in Penguins recent history that season.
2/2/11 – Brent Johnson vs Rick DiPietro
Where else should we start an NHL fighting montage than an old fashioned goalie fight? Little did Brent Johnson know at the time, but he set off a chain of events that still spills over into the games these days almost a decade later.
Rick DiPietro took exemption to Matt Cooke circling his net a little too close, which is to be expected with Cooke, and DiPietro began the commotion in this one. His career may have gone in an entirely different direction had he not ran into Matt Cooke that fateful night. I remember this game well despite it being ten years ago and the Islanders were clearly lagging in this one and were taking liberties towards the end of a game they were never going to win.
Brent Johnson is a fierce competitor and Rick DiPietro is… I’ll say fragile. DiPietro never should have agreed to a fight in the first place, but he gave Johnson the nod and accepted the challenge. Little did DiPietro know, Jonhson was a southpaw and connected as clean as could be with his first shot dropping DiPietro to the ice and fracturing his face. DiPietro would return to the NHL for short stints the next few seasons, but most people remember Brent Johnson ending DiPietro’s career that night and it would have consequences that linger to this day between the two franchises.
12/3/10 – Sidney Crosby vs Matt Niskanen
This one is so satisfying considering what Niskanen did to Crosby as a member of the Capitals in the playoffs a few seasons ago. At the time of this fight, Niskanen was still with Dallas before his time in Pittsburgh and the Penguins were struggling early on as a team behind Dan Byslma despite Crosby at the peak of his career in terms of production. Crosby didn’t record a point in this game, but followed it up with 26 goals and 24 assists in his next 25 games in one of the most dominant performances in the NHL this millennium. Not too shabby, eh?
I actually still remember this game well, at least this moment, as Crosby’s leadership qualities were on full display as the team around him had no signs of life so he took matters into his own literal hands. Poor Niskanen had no idea prior to the fight that Crosby was about to unleash a world of frustration upon him.
Crosby was booted from the face-off circle and was along the boards with future combatant Niskanen. As soon as the puck dropped, both parties dropped their gloves but Crosby gave Niskanen no daylight and instantly began throwing hands like I’ve never seen before from Sid. Crosby tosses Niskanen around like a rag doll and connects multiple shots in a matter of seconds that leaves Niskanen requiring a minute to recollect himself before heading to the box.
Crosby was not playing around on this one. Is there anything he’s not good at?
1/1/11 – Mike Rupp vs John Erskine
Most people will remember this game for the hit that Crosby took that ended his season and derailed his career for nearly two years. But before that happened, Mike Rupp and John Erskine engaged in some fisticuffs under the night sky at Heinz Field.
Mike Rupp gives Erskine a ride into the boards which causes the two to drop the gloves to settle their differences like men. Rupp comes out swinging out of the gates and almost immediately drops Erskine quickly in this exchange before Erskine recollects himself. The two trade jabs before the refs mercifully step in between these two large gentlemen.
Rupp gets the early advantage but 50.6% of voters on hockeyfights.com give Erskine the advantage while only 15.6% say that Rupp was on top, with 33.7% calling it a draw. No matter how you call it, it was certainly one of the more memorable fights that season since it took place at Heinz Field.
10/13/10 – Deryk Engelland vs Colton Orr
It was only the fourth game of the year for the Penguins but it was definitely one of the best in fights for the Penguins that season with Engelland dropping Orr to the ice emphatically in this one. The 8.3 rating on hockeyfights was the highest rated fight for the Penguins that year and landed #7 on the top rated fights in the NHL that season.
Deryk Engelland was not known around the NHL at that time for his fists, but he put the league on notice after this one. He managed to find himself in nine games early in the previous season and dropped the gloves on several occasions in those games, but his KO of Orr, who was a well-known fighter during those days, certainly put Engelland on the map and as he rose through the ranks in the 2010-11 season. Engelland was no stranger to fights this season and many more to come even to this day. He’ll make many appearances on these lists as we go through the years.
12/8/10 – Deryk Engelland vs Colton Orr; Round Two
Round One between these two that season saw Engelland win cleanly. The two teams met again two months later and Orr was looking to get some revenge. This one didn’t end as cleanly as the first one, and Orr fared slightly better with this one but 79.7% percent of voters picked Engelland as the clear winner with only 6.1% claiming Orr as the winner.
As I mentioned above in the first fight, Engelland put the league on notice that he can hang with the best of them as Engelland fought 13 times that season, and was only declared the loser twice by the voters on hockeyfights.
10/29/10 – Deryk Engelland vs Jody Shelley
Dan Byslma was aware of some trouble brewing in this one as the two teams started with their grinders and Engelland and Shelley dropped the gloves only 23 seconds in this game. It took Engelland less time than that to bloody Shelley and Engelland provided no mercy as he continued to wail away upon Shelley’s noggin.
Despite it only being 23 seconds into this matchup, it was the second fight of the game as Matt Cooke and Mike Richards squared off only six seconds into the game. Shelley and Engelland will meet again many times throughout their careers.
11/10/10 – Arron Asham vs Adam McQuaid
Arron Asham is a lot more brave than I am as he gave McQuaid nearly six inches in this bout. It was Asham’s first fight with the Penguins and he started off very slowly before abandoning his own well-being and hammering away on a man half a foot taller than him. He lands many punishing shots and at one point drops McQuaid to his knees before the refs step in and the two players separate. Asham also scored his first goal of his career with the Penguins before his first fight that 61% of voters claimed his as the victor. That’s a great way to win over some fans for your new team and Asham did just that in this game.
3/5/11 – Mike Rupp vs Shawn Thornton
Mike Rupp was headhunting early in this game as Shawn Thornton was coming through the neutral zone which got Thornton’s attention pretty quickly. Thornton immediately challenged Rupp to a fight which Rupp happily obliged.
The two finagle their way to center ice as Thornton throws many haymakers that don’t connect fully before Rupp manages to connect multiple shots in succession that Thornton can’t handle and crumbles to the ice.
Thornton is one of those players that you hated to see when your team played him, but it is always nice to see a Penguins player get the better of him in a fight as Rupp did in this one with 98.5% of voters giving Rupp the advantage.
1/25/11 – Arron Asham vs Zenon Konopka
Once again Asham gives up the height advantage but still comes out on top in this fight. The two players agree to fight right off a face-off and Konopka quickly jumps out to an early advantage and bloodies Asham before Asham responds with multiplw shots and getting Konopka in a vulnerable position with his jersey obstructing his view. Asham takes full advantage before the referees intervene it became a hazard for Konopka.
This one is actually pretty funny considering that Asham manages to completely pull Konopka’s jersey over his head with his helmet still buckled in fully. Asham pulls a Mighty Ducks move and continues to land upper cuts before the being broken up and once again comes away victorious despite the height advantage to his opponent.
This is just the beginning of a recap of the best fights of each year for the Penguins. Are there any I missed that you can recall from this season?
The most obvious omission is the brawl-filled game with the Islanders after the Johnson-DiPietro TKO that saw Michael Haley challenge Johnson to a fight which resulted in a 10-game suspension for Eric Godard who intervened from off the bench to protect his goalie. However, that game wasn’t really a game to be proud of for either side and the Penguins especially didn’t fare well in that game. There’s plenty of videos of that online if you’re looking to crawl down that hole.
Thanks for reading and be sure to vote for your best fight that season and comment below on which one you think is best!