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Top 10 New York Rangers Enforcers since 1975

Jul. 31, 2020 - Michael Stewart

Top 10 New York Rangers Enforcers since 1975

Introduction: The New York Rangers have a rich history of Hall of Famers throughout their history as the original six teams in the NHL. This article is going to pay tribute to Ranger greats who protected some of the greatest skilled players who played for the Rangers. This list will have guidelines as I will only go back to 1975 to current enforcers; which were during my time frame that I witnessed these tough guys doing what they did best. So you won’t see the likes of Orland Kurtenbach, Reggie Fleming, Lou Fontinato, Ron Harris or Vic Hadfield on this list, although they hold a place in Rangers History as top enforcers. The other guideline is that the player must have played at least two seasons as a Ranger to qualify for Top 10 honors. So here we go, here is my top 10 New York Rangers enforcers since 1975:

10. Brandon Prust:  Middle weight enforcer who didn’t back down from anyone during his time with the Rangers (2009-2012).  Prust took on bigger opponents and held his own while igniting the Rangers with his emotional play.  

9. George McPhee: If you ever had toy called “rock’em sock’em robots” as a kid, George McPhee’s fighting style resembled that to a tee. McPhee is the smallest enforcer on my list (5’9/170), but he arguably had the biggest heart and determination than anyone I’ve seen as a Ranger enforcer.

8. Sandy McCarthy: McCarthy played three full seasons with the Rangers (2000-03) and was the team main enforcer during that time. McCarthy fought the best of them during his time with the Rangers and usually came out ahead in most of them

7. Colton Orr: Orr played four seasons with the Rangers (2005-09) and was their main bodyguard during that time. Orr won his fair share of fights; while protecting the skilled players on the team such as: Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka and Michael Nylander.

6. Jeff Beukeboom: Beukeboom wasn’t the Rangers primary enforcer during his time with the Blueshirts as the Rangers arguably had the toughest group of enforcers assembled collectively in the early to mid 90’s. Beukeboom was a solid stay at home defensemen who fought only he it was necessary and he usually came out on top.

5. Barry Beck: One of my all-time favorite players to wear a Ranger uniform (1979-86). Beck wasn’t an enforcer by definition, but how can I not have him on my top 10. Beck fought when he had to and when he did he usually was victorious. In fact, many who fought Beck never fought him a second time. Beck was so respected by opposing enforcers that they hardly initiated a confrontation.

4. Darren Langdon: Without a doubt, Langdon was the best technical fighter the Rangers have ever had ever. Langdon played five seasons with the Rangers (1995-00) and during that time either shared or was the team’s enforcer. Langdon’s fights were arguably the longest ever if you add them all up throughout his career and that was part of his strategy. Langdon would let his opponent tire themselves out and then he would usually win on the backend of his fights.

3. Joey Kocur: Kocur played six seasons in New York (1990-96) and had the most lethal right hand among the enforcers of all-time. Any opponent who didn’t secure the right hand of Kocur would be hit with a sledge hammer and when that occurred, Kocur would walk away victorious. Of all the fights during Kocur’s career, the one that stood out for me was when he fought his best friend Bob Probert while protecting his teammate. Kocur was a great teammate and a even greater enforcer.

2. Tie Domi: In just three seasons with the Rangers, Tie Domi sure did leave his mark and a place on my Top 10 enforcers for the Ranger at #2. Every fight was fun to watch as Domi would always have a smile on his face after each bout as if he truly enjoyed it; which he probably did. Of course, his two most memorable battles was against the NHL resident tough guy Bob Probert and in their first match Domi was victorious and he mocked Probert by displaying he has the belt as the #1 enforcer in the NHL.  

1. Nick Fotiu: Was there any doubt who would be my #1 enforcer for the Rangers other than Nick Fotiu. Fotiu played eight seasons in New York (1977-85) and was a fan favorite, born and raised in Staten Island and a Ranger fan growing up. I don’t remember ever seeing Fotiu lose a fight and he was probably the most skilled of all the Rangers enforcer with a background in boxing. Along with Beck, not many teams tried to bullying the Rangers around during Fotiu’s time with the Rangers.

Final Thoughts: Well there you have it, my top 10 enforcers of the Rangers since 1975. This is list is certainly argumentive and I’m sure there are a couple of enforcers that could be included over some of my selections. However; this is my list and I’m sticking to it. Although the NHL style of play has evolved over the last decade or two and the need for a pure enforcer is not mandatory. Fighting will always be a part of the game and should never be eliminated as it is part of the history of hockey and one of many reasons why this great sport has prospered around the world.