So how do we figure out who the best fighter in the NHL is? First, we need to know who won every fight that takes place in the league. Hockey-fights.com is an absolutely indispensable resource in this regard - its users vote on who won and lost every fight. But it's not enough - a heavyweight who fights only in his weight class might have a .500 record despite being one of the better fighters in the league.
As usual, chess has the answer we're looking for: the ELO rating system, which handicaps players based on their past performance. Using ELO, the loser of a bout between top-ranked fighters will be penalized far less than if he lost to an unknown or a poor fighter. Here are the rankings for serious fighters using all fights during the 2006-07 through 2008-09 season:
No matter how you slice the data, Laraque was going to be #1. His 24-3-3 record against no-one but tough guys is unmatched.
And what about the less-frequent fighters?
This group definitely includes some solid fighters who've made the highlight of the night with their fists. Just missing the top five were Robyn Regehr and Rick Rypien, who fight less often but have had good success against serious fighters.
And who have been the worst fighters in the league? Presumably, legitimately bad fighters will stay away from fights! But among those who do fight repeatedly, Corey Perry (0 wins in 7 fights), Greg Campbell (1-16), Brendan Witt (1-9), Alex Burrows (0-15) and Tom Kostopoulos (1-23) stand out as particularly poor. Those decisions come from Hockeyfights.com users - if you watch the fight videos yourself, your mileage may vary.