In the world of professional hockey, few things get the blood pumping and the crowd roaring like a perfectly executed body check. The biggest hits in hockey history not only leave opponents dazed and confused, but they also create legendary moments that fans talk about for years to come.
In this blog post, we’ll be diving into the most bone-crushing hits ever witnessed on the ice. We’ve included YouTube links to these unforgettable collisions, so you can see the action firsthand.
1. Scott Stevens on Eric Lindros – 2000 Eastern Conference Final
In what is considered one of the most brutal hits in NHL history, New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens laid out Philadelphia Flyers captain Eric Lindros during Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Final. As Lindros crossed the blue line with the puck, Stevens delivered a devastating hit that left the Flyers’ star unconscious on the ice.
Lindros suffered a concussion, and this hit effectively marked the end of his tenure in Philadelphia. The impact of this collision can still be felt today, as it raised awareness of the long-term effects of concussions in professional sports.
2. Brian Campbell on R.J. Umberger – 2006 NHL Playoffs
In Game 1 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Brian Campbell delivered a bone-crushing open-ice hit on R.J. Umberger.
The collision left Umberger motionless on the ice, and it remains one of the most powerful open-ice hits ever seen in the NHL. The hit helped set the tone for the rest of the series, which the Sabres went on to win in six games.
3. Scott Stevens on Paul Kariya – 2003 Stanley Cup Final
Scott Stevens makes another appearance on our list with his notorious hit on Anaheim Ducks captain Paul Kariya during Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final. As Kariya attempted to move the puck through the neutral zone, Stevens stepped up and delivered a vicious elbow-to-head hit, leaving Kariya motionless on the ice. Remarkably, Kariya returned to the game just minutes later and scored a crucial goal, showcasing his incredible resilience and determination.
This hit is one of the most memorable moments in Stanley Cup history, not only for the force of the collision but also for Kariya’s inspiring comeback. The incident further solidified Scott Stevens’ reputation as one of the hardest-hitting defensemen in NHL history and contributed to the ongoing conversation about player safety and headshots in the league.
4. Dion Phaneuf on Kyle Okposo – 2010 Regular Season
During a 2010 regular-season game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders, defenseman Dion Phaneuf delivered a monstrous hit on forward Kyle Okposo.As Okposo skated into the Maple Leafs’ zone, Phaneuf stepped up and delivered a clean, hard shoulder check that left Okposo lying on the ice.
This hit is a perfect example of Phaneuf’s physical presence on the ice and his ability to change the momentum of a game with a single hit. Phaneuf was consistently among the NHL hit leaders during his split between the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs.
5. Niklas Kronwall on Martin Havlat – 2009 Western Conference Final
In Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference Final, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall introduced Chicago Blackhawks forward Martin Havlat to his infamous “Kronwalling” technique. As Havlat attempted to control a bouncing puck, Kronwall closed the gap and delivered a massive hit that left Havlat unconscious on the ice.
The hit is remembered not only for its ferocity but also for the way Kronwall timed it perfectly to catch Havlat off-guard. To this day, NHL hits executed in this fashion are referred to as “getting Kronwalled”.
6. Mike Richards on David Booth – 2009 Regular Season
Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards made a statement with this open-ice hit on Florida Panthers forward David Booth during a 2009 regular-season game. As Booth
skated through the neutral zone, Richards caught him with a crushing shoulder-to-head hit, leaving Booth unconscious and motionless on the ice.
This hit sparked a significant debate about the role of headshots in the NHL and ultimately led to rule changes aimed at reducing dangerous head contact.
7. Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty – 2011 Regular Season
One of the most controversial hits in recent memory, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara’s hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty during a 2011 regular-season game left Pacioretty with a fractured vertebra and a severe concussion. As Pacioretty attempted to get around Chara along the boards, Chara pushed him into the stanchion separating the benches, causing the horrifying injury.
This incident ignited a fierce rivalry between the two teams and led to increased scrutiny of player safety measures in the NHL.
8. Darcy Tucker on Sami Kapanen – 2004 NHL Playoffs
In Game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Philadelphia Flyers, forward Darcy Tucker delivered a jarring hit on Sami Kapanen that left the Flyers winger dazed and struggling to get back to the bench.
The hit exemplifies the intensity of playoff hockey and showcases Tucker’s hard-nosed, physical style of play.
Final Word on the Biggest Hockey Hits
These bone-crushing hits stand as some of the most memorable and impactful moments in hockey history. They not only demonstrate the sheer force and physicality that hockey players can generate but also serve as a reminder of the importance of player safety and the ongoing debate surrounding the role of body checking in the sport.
From Scott Stevens’ devastating hit on Eric Lindros to Zdeno Chara’s controversial check on Max Pacioretty, these hits will forever be etched in the annals of hockey history.