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2016-17 Fight Club: Reliving the top fights of the last ten years

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Once again, the Pens finished towards the bottom in the league in fights. And once again, came home with the Stanley Cup.

NHL: OCT 13 Capitals at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In Mike Sullivan’s first full season behind the bench for Pittsburgh, the Penguins finished second to last in the league in fights for the second straight year. The team fought only 12 times in the regular season, with four more occasions in the playoffs.

It was a wonderful year to be a Pens fan. Let’s take another stroll down memory lane.

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
2011-12 Recap
2013 Recap
2013-14 Recap
2014-15 Recap
2015-16 Recap


12/23/16 Steve Oleksy vs Miles Wood

Merry Christmas!

This scrap seemingly came out of nowhere between Steve Oleksy and Miles Wood as Wood came after Oleksy after a whistle without much of a scrum or lead up to it from what I can tell.

Oleksy seemed up for the task, however, as he wastes no time to snap into beast mode and hammers away with some heavy right hands to Woods. Woods landed his fair share of punches in the fight, but 42.5% of the votes on hockeyfights.com were for Oleksy with Wood getting 26.8%. This was by far the highest rated fight for the Penguins that season clocking in with a 7.19 rating, which was the eighth highest ranked fight in the NHL.


3/8/17 - Evgeni Malkin vs Blake Wheeler

This one didn’t go so well for Evgeni Malkin, but this fight may have well been scheduled in this matchup when the two teams played that night. Malkin hit Wheeler with a high hit to his blindside in the previous game which left Wheeler flattened on the ice. That meant Malkin had to fight a Jets player in the next game, and Wheeler was looking for redemption.

Malkin was anticipating the staged fight and immediately dropped his gloves along with Wheeler three minutes into the game off a faceoff. Wheeler came in with a heavy first shot to Malkin’s helmet which knocked Malkin off balance and was overpowering Malkin the entire fight before tossing Malkin through the air with a forceful takedown.

It wasn’t pretty for Malkin but he answered for his questionable hit the previous game and Wheeler appeared to have appreciated the gesture with a shoulder tap, squashing their personal disagreement, but the two teams weren’t done in this game.


3/8/17 - Tom Sestito vs Chris Thorburn

If you watched the entire Malkin-Wheeler video above, you may notice that this one almost picks up right where that one left off. That’s because Tom Sestito and Chris Thorburn fought on the very next faceoff.

Sestito was called up before that game and was looking for trouble after watching Malkin get the worst in the previous fight. Thorburn appeared to have the same thing on his mind as the two decided to fight as soon as the puck was dropped.

Sestito lands the first shot of the fight with a big right hand but Thorburn was in this one until the very end. When the camera angle shifts to the angle behind the net you can really gauge how hard these two were hitting each other as both their heads were bouncing around violently.

45.5% of votes declared this one a draw, which I would agree with, but Sestito would have won with the judges with 41.1% of the votes compared to only 13.4% for Thorburn.

Sestito wasn’t done in this game, and there’s still some animosity between the Jets and Penguins, as Sestito was later thrown out of the game later in the 1st period and then suspended four games for boarding Tobias Enstrom.

Enstrom was diagnosed with a concussion and would not play again that season. This was not a good game for Tom Sestito or the Penguins.


10/13/16 - Tom Sestito vs Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson was public enemy number one in Pittsburgh during this time and this fight happened to be the first fight of the season for the Penguins. The patron saint of D.C. always seemed to bring his biggest performances and worst hits against the Pens. However, another Tom came out on top in this fight when Tom Sestito of the Penguins got the better of Wilson in a rare Penguin win in a fight involving Wilson.

After mixing it up far away from the play and long after a whistle, Sestito and Wilson finally decide to drop the gloves and go at it. Wilson gets an early positional advantage but doesn’t take advantage of it as Sestito wiggles away before the pair are nearly at center and Sestito gets his arm free and connects multiple times on Wilson. Wilson never really gets any clean shots on Sestito, as Wilson tends to do in fights. This one was a clear win for Sestito with 81.8% of the vote to only 3.6% of votes going with Wilson.


12/10/16 - Trevor Daley vs Nikita Kucherov

Nikita Kucherov was just beginning to show his star power in the league this season, but the Lightning were struggling to get anything going early in the season and it would cost them in the end by missing the playoffs by one point in 2016-17.

Trevor Daley and Kucherov mix it up after a whistle and things escalate quickly as Kucherov had a short fuse in this fight and immediately drops his gloves and began throwing punches before Daley drops his gloves. Kucherov throws punches wildly early on as Daley goes for the grapple move and fends Kucherov off the rest of the fight before tiring out and the officials step in.

This wasn’t the best fight for Daley, with only 16.7% of the votes to Kucherov’s 52.4%, but worth including considering how far Kucherov’s game has come since then as he would likely never feel the need to fight anymore but didn’t think twice four years ago.


5/10/17 - Scott Wilson vs Brooks Orpik

I bet there weren’t a lot of fans on either side of this rivalry who expected Brooks Orpik to end up in a fight in a Game 7. But that’s exactly what happened late in Game 7 of the second round in 2017 between the Capitals and Penguins.

With the Penguins up 2-0 and ten minutes left in the game, Orpik realized his team needed a spark and Scott Wilson was in his crosshairs. Orpik was part of the 2009 Cup winning Penguins team and saw first-hand how much a fight can change the outcome of a game. Unfortunately for Orpik, the game remained the same score as the Penguins held on to win 2-0 and the series en route to their back-to-back Cup runs in 2016 and 2017.


5/31/17 - Evgeni Malkin vs P.K. Subban

Late in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against Nashville, Evgeni Malkin circled the Predators crease a little too close and appeared to be more than willing to engage in some extra-curricular activities. Malkin finds himself within striking distance of P.K. Subban and gives Subban a little love tap before challenging Subban to a fight, and the referee backs away and lets the two talented players engage in a fight.

Despite the ref’s initial willingness to let the fight play out, they attempt to break up the fight multiple times before any real punches are thrown or landed on either side. Once again this wasn’t the prettiest fight, but the fans came to life and the Penguins again held on for the 4-1 victory to go ahead 2-0 in the series.


6/8/17 - Carl Hagelin vs Viktor Arvidsson

When the series returned to Pittsburgh for Game 5, the Predators had rebounded and won both games in Nashville. However, this game was far out of reach with the Penguins owning a commanding 6-0 lead. The Predators were clearly frustrated and those feelings came to light after a whistle when Roman Josi and Evgeni Malkin engage in some fisticuffs, but neither get fighting majors.

Carl Hagelin was engaging Viktor Arvidsson, and the two partake in a nearly identical scrum as Josi and Malkin, but Hagelin and Arvidsson both get gate for fighting. The fight didn’t amount to much but Arvidsson and Hagelin fall to the ice and Arvidsson gets Hagelin in a vulnerable position and attempts to finish Hagelin, who fortunately braces for the late punches and comes away no worse for wear.

Once again, the fight had no impact on the game as the Penguins finished off the Predators in the 6-0 beat down.


6/8/17 - Chris Kunitz vs Yannick Webber

In the final minute of Game 5, Colton Sissons lets his frustration get the best of him as a bit of pushing and shoving between Sissons and Olli Maatta led to Sissons cross-checking Maatta directly in the face, resulting in a match penalty and the ensuing fight between Yannick Webber and Chris Kunitz.

Again, this wasn’t much of a fight, but it looks like Kunitz may have gone for the beard grab of Webber just prior to the gloves coming off. Kunitz throws the only punch in the fight, which doesn’t cleanly connect, before taking Webber to the ground.

Sissons match penalty would not result in any supplemental discipline from the NHL, but the Penguins took care of business in Game 6 regardless. And the rest is history:

2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Poll

Which fight was the best fight in the 2016-17 season?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    12/23/16 - Steve Oleksy vs Miles Wood
    (10 votes)
  • 4%
    3/8/17 - Evgeni Malkin vs Blake Wheeler
    (3 votes)
  • 13%
    3/8/17 - Tom Sestito vs Chris Thorburn
    (8 votes)
  • 57%
    10/13/16 - Tom Sestito vs Tom Wilson
    (35 votes)
  • 0%
    12/10/16 - Trevor Daley vs Nikita Kucherov
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    5/10/17 - Scott Wilson vs Brooks Orpik
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    5/31/17 - Evgeni Malkin vs P.K. Subban
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    6/8/17 - Carl Hagelin vs Viktor Arvidsson
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    6/8/17 - Chris Kunitz vs Yannick Webber
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
61 votes total Vote Now