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2011-12 Fight Club: Reliving the top fights of the last ten years

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We continue our trip through the last decade with the 2011-12 season in fights for the Penguins

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

We dive into the second installment in this new series with the 2011-12 season for the Penguins. The Penguins had the second-most fights in the NHL in 2010-11, but fought much less in ‘11-12 with only 31 fights comparted to 71 the year prior. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any memorable ones. Let’s recap, shall we?

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.

2010-11 Recap


10/13/11 - Arron Asham vs Jay Beagle

2011-12 started off with a bang with this being the first fight of the season for the Penguins. It was also most likely the most talked about due to Asham’s antics (there you go, BluJ!) once he landed the KO punch to Jay Beagle. It fed right into the anti-fight advocates in hockey who claim it has no place in the game and use this as exhibit A for what how quickly things can become out of hand.

It was a heat of the moment thing, and hard to blame Asham for his reaction, but it certainly didn’t age well even after Asham apologized to Beagle afterwards. Asham could, and should, have reconsidered his celebration but instead this was another line drawn between the two teams in the midst of the beginning of one of the fiercest rivalries in the NHL the last decade.


12/1/11 - Arron Asham vs John Erskine

When the two teams met again a few months later in December, Asham would answer the bell for his post KO reaction involving Jay Beagle (Beagle was still injured nearly two months later). John Erskine would be considered a heavyweight weighing in at 219 lbs and standing 6’4” compared to 5’10” and 196 lbs for Asham. However, Asham answered to the code and accepted the challenge from Erskine early in the next game.

Erskine most definitely got the better of Asham as Erskine lands many, many devastating blows on target to Asham who did his best to land several shots of his own. Everyone expected something like this to happen after the first meeting, and a good old fashioned dosage of NHL justice was administered.


12/23/11 - Arron Asham vs Tanner Glass

This season may as well be remembered as the Arron Asham Ass Kicking Tour of 2012 as he dropped the gloves eight times, tying Deryk Engelland for the team lead, and came out victorious in seven of them according to the voters on hockeyfights.com with the only loss coming to Erskine above.

Here he is stomping future Penguin Tanner Glass’s face in like Glass was accustomed to throughout his career. Glass finishes off Evgeni Malkin into the boards and Asham immediately confronts Glass who happily drops the gloves as they dance at center ice. Glass quickly regretted that choice.

Asham gets an early edge over Glass as the two throw some heavy punches that connect on both sides. Glass drops Asham to his knees at one point but Asham finishes strong and gets the last shot before the refs intervene and let the two combatants get some oxygen and think about what they’ve done for the next five minutes in the sin bin.


11/15/11 - Arron Asham vs Cody McLeod

If Tanner Glass is accustomed to losing fights, Cody McLeod made quite a living from it. It seems like that’s all McLeod did was get punched in the head.

McLeod and Asham met many times over their careers and dropped the gloves twice this season. Here’s the better of the two fights, with Asham also voted the winner in the second one, which leaves a pretty good amount of blood coming out of McLeod’s forehead. That’s what he does best.


11/12/11 - Arron Asham vs Bryan Allen

Once again Asham gives up height and weight to an even bigger 6’5” Bryan Allen and once again Asham does more than hold his own. Allen was one tough customer in his day and fighting was certainly part of his game.

Allen lands the first several shots but it was all Asham the rest of the way as Asham lands the majority of his attempts as Allen attempts to wrap Asham up and take him to the ice. It didn’t seem as one sided to me as the votes on hockeyfights.com, as 73% of the votes went for Asham compared to only 7.8% for Allen in this one.


11/25/11 - Arron Asham vs Zenon Konopka

This one may be one of the better fights for the Penguins this season between these two grinders. The two each throw and land punches for nearly an entire minute, which is a lifetime in a fight, especially with these two tough guys.

Both sides landed plenty of good shots, but again Asham came away with the unanimous victory online with 73.2% of the vote with only 4.9% for Konopka. Lots of respect between these two as you can see in the end as they both tire themselves out and give one another the shoulder tap in the end.

Again, this season could be renamed the Asham Ass Kicking Tour of 2012 as you can see above from all the carnage he unleashed upon his opponents. I don’t remember Asham being such a good fighter with the Penguins at the time, but he was a perfect fourth liner with the Pens. Very underappreciated in hindsight after watching these videos.


1/17/12 - Deryk Engelland vs Tim Gleason

This was almost the fight that nobody saw. And it was quite a dandy.

As the game went to a commercial break, Gleason and Engelland were engaging Blitzkrieg on each others faces. It’s hard to declare a winner in this one, and 47% of voters agreed as they scored it a draw. But Engelland got over twice as many win votes than Gleason with 37% of the vote.

The slow motion replay is one of the most jaw dropping slow-mo’s ever made. Absolute insanity. You have to be out of your mind to engage in such an activity. What a crazy bout this one turned into while the audience was completely unaware of what was happening.


12/20/11 - Deryk Engelland vs John Scott

By this point in time, Deryk Engelland’s right hand was feared around the league. However, John Scott was not impressed and Scott’s ego far outreached Engelland when it came to the rough stuff.

Engelland took a run at a Chicago player and unfortunately for Engelland, John Scott happened to be waiting for him once he got back to his feet and the two engaged in one for the ages. It’s hard to fight someone 6’8” no matter who you are, and this was proof of that statement as John Scott gave Engelland no sign of life and completely controlled the fight the entire time against a fighter who seemingly never lost. This one was all John Scott but still worth posting on here to show how scary John Scott was.


1/17/12 - Joe Vitale vs Tim Brent

The fans in attendance for this game between the Hurricanes and Penguins were in for a treat as this is the second fight from that game that made the cut in this article. However, this time it’s not from your usual suspects.

Joe Vitale was throwing his body all over the ice before Tim Brent steps in and asks if he’d rather throw hands instead and Vitale is no stranger to fisticuffs. It wasn’t a long fight but the two players landed multiple heavy shots but Vitale landed the biggest one with a clear shot directly to Brent’s head as Brent knocks Vitale off balance. Watching the slow-mo replay makes you cringe watching Vitale’s fist connect as clean as possible. Ouch.

This one just goes to show that it’s not always the two biggest and toughest guys who can put on a show.


12/5/11 - Joe Vitale vs Gregory Campbell

I don’t remember Joe Vitale being such a nuisance in his time with the Penguins, but Vitale had no fear when he played as evidence in this fracas. Vitale is in Tim Thomas’s grill and even decides to gives Thomas a shot which never ends well in hockey.

Gregory Campbell jumps in and Vitale and Campbell swing wildly and fight all over the ice. Campbell lands a few monster punches but Vitale does more than stand his ground as Vitale drops Campbell in the end with a clean shot to end the fight.

This was one of the highest rated fights involving a Penguins player with a 7.72 rating out of 462 votes. It was also one of the closest with 203 votes claiming Vitale the winner to 198 votes for Campbell. Either way, it was certainly entertaining.


12/5/11 - Matt Niskanen vs Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand was up to his usual sleazy ways when he slew-footed Niskanen behind the Penguins resulting in Niskanen confronting Marchand. Niskanen wasn’t looking for a fight but Marchand had every intention of dropping the gloves, and Marchand got his wish.

Niskanen gets Marchand’s helmet off after unleashing on Marchand’s helmet several times and continues to wail away before Marchand catches Niskanen in a vulnerable position in the end as the refs intervene.

Seeing Marchand getting punched in the head is always satisfying and what’s even more satisfying is that 75% of voters gave Niskanen the win with Marchand only getting 16% of the vote. I’m happy with that.


12/8/11 - Tyler Kennedy vs Harry Zolnierczyk

If you were wondering if the Flyers were going to make an appearance this year, the answer is yes. And this is just the beginning of what may have been one of the most contentious time between the two teams .

Kennedy and Zolnierczyk are far from heavyweights but this was one nasty fight as Kennedy lands a ton of punches in a short period of time before tossing Zolnierczyk to the ground with authority in a clear win for TK.

This was just the beginning.


4/1/12 - Pittsburgh Penguins vs Philadelphia Flyers

Did I say it was contentious? Hard to tell from that clip above.

Joe Vitale rubbed some Flyers the wrong way with several hits late in a one sided game that got quite a reaction from the entire Flyers bench. Vitale lands a massive, and clean hit, on Daniel Briere at center ice that begins an all out brawl on the ice as even the coaches start going at it between the benches.

Everyone grabs everyone on the ice and starts throwing away and the two coaches are highly animated between the benches as Peter Laviolette takes offense to Dan Byslma throwing out his fourth line late in a game.

This one stews over for quite some time during the game and was the catalyst to some truly crazy moments between the two teams the next several years.


4/7/12 - Joe Vitale vs Harry Zolnierczyk

The two teams met a week later to wrap up the season and Vitale had crosshairs on his back the entire game after several big hits the game before. Zolnierczyk challenges Vitale before the faceoff and the two go at it as soon as the puck drops.

This fight was all Vitale as Zolnierczyk never gets a shot off but is the recipient of many punches from Vitale before finally going to the ice which takes the heat out of a hot kitchen as Mike Lange would say. At least until the two meet again...


4/15/12 - Pittsburgh Penguins vs Philadelphia Flyers

This was icing on the cake between the two teams in the Crosby Era. The rivalry was boiling over for several years before Crosby finally passed his torch to Claude Giroux in this series in 2012. This is the moment that every Penguins/Flyers fan will jump to when thinking of the rivalry between the two.

The petty glove push from Crosby was all it took before all hell broke loose. It resulted in a fight between Kimmo Timonen and Crosby and Giroux before the Flyers took the series and still haven’t won a playoff series since until this year.


2011-12 saw half as many fights as 2010-11, but when the Penguins dropped the gloves some pretty wild events followed. The Penguins were one of the most dominant teams in the league at the time but couldn’t seem to piece it all together in the playoffs when it mattered most.

The fights will go down in volume from this season forward, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t any good ones. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next chapter featuring the 2013 lockout shortened season. Thanks for reading and be sure to vote on your fight of the year!

Poll

Which was the best fight of the 2011-12 season?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    10/13/11 - Arron Asham vs Jay Beagle
    (53 votes)
  • 0%
    12/23/11 - Arron Asham vs Tanner Glass
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    11/15/11 - Arron Asham vs Cody McLeod
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    11/12/11 - Arron Asham vs Bryan Allen
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    11/25/11 - Arron Asham vs Zenon Konopka
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    1/17/12 - Deryk Engelland vs Tim Gleason
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    12/20/11 - Deryk Engelland vs John Scott
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    1/17/12 - Joe Vitale vs Tim Brent
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    12/5/11 - Joe Vitale vs Gregory Campbell
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    12/5/11 - Matt Niskanen vs Brad Marchand
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    12/8/11 - Tyler Kennedy vs Harry Zolnierczyk
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    4/7/12 - Joe Vitale vs Harry Zolnierczyk
    (2 votes)
  • 10%
    4/1/12 - Penguins vs Flyers brawl
    (10 votes)
  • 16%
    4/15/12 - Penguins vs Flyers playoff brawl
    (15 votes)
  • 2%
    Other
    (2 votes)
92 votes total Vote Now