Know Your Fighters

Robert Vollman
November 13 2011 11:17AM


If you're going to have someone whose only purpose is fighting, they might as well be good at it.  The Flames have had goons like Andre Roy, Brian McGrattan, Krzystof Oliwa and Raitis Ivanans – some seriously bad dudes (and I don't just mean their hockey skills).

Career fights, of everyone with at least 10 fights going into this season, including regular season, pre-season and post-season (a fight's a fight).

Fighter                      NHL AHL Total
Raitis Ivanans                68  55  123
Tim Jackman                   64  56  120
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond 20  83  103
Guillaume Desbiens             5  75   80
Tom Kostopoulos               63  15   78
Jarome Iginla                 57   0   57
Cory Sarich                   37   0   37
Stefen Mayer                   7  27   34
Olli Jokinen                  28   0   28
Curtis Glencross              10  16   26
Mark Giordano                 11   7   18

Let's look at their top five fighters, two of which are NHL-caliber hockey players, the other three … not so much.

Raitis Ivanans
33 years old, 6'4”, 240 lbs
NHL Record: 28-15-15
Fighting probability: 21.1%

Wins: Parros (x4), Shelley (x3), Gratton (x2), Rupp (x2), Stortini (x2), Fedoruk (x2), Norton, Roy, Carcillo, Laraque, McLeod, Lucic, Keefe, Barch, Staubitz, Koci, Brookbank, Carter, Jacques, Rechlicz

Losses: Boogaard (x3), Laraque (x2), MacIntyre (x2), Chara, Koci, Shelley, Norton, King, Pyatt, Stortini, Thorburn,

Draws: Parros (x2), McGrattan (x2), Bissonnette (x2), Winchester, Koci, Shelley, Boll, Walker, Staubitz, Eager, Thornton, Konopka

Opened 5-7-2 in 2006-07, losing twice to Boogaard and Laraque, but is a mighty 23-7-13 since then, including a win over Laraque (but another loss to Boogaard).

Favourite opponents: He's 4-0-2 against George Parros, 3-1-1 against Jody Shelley, 2-0-0 against Josh Gratton, Michael Rupp and Todd Fedoruk.

Scores to settle: 0-2-0 against Steve MacIntyre, 0-0-2 against Brian McGrattan and Paul Bissonette, 1-1-1 against David Koci,

Pierre-Luc Leblond
26 years old, 6'2” 210 lbs
NHL Record: 6-5-7
AHL Record: 33-11-14
Fighting probability: 35.2%

Wins: Clackson, Cote, Asham, Janssen, Rosehill, Konopka

Losses: Brashear, Cote, Thornton, Shelley (x2)

Draws: Cote, Winchester, Henley, Gillies, Boll, Walker, Carlson

Leblond fights the heavyweights, and can generally keep his own, with wins over Asham, Janssen and Konopka, and a tie with Gillies and Boll. 

Favourite Opponents: 1-1-1 against Riley Cote.  Also Matt Clackson and Tom Sestito, 3-0-0 in the AHL, and Joel Rechlicz, 3-1-1.

Scores to settle: 0-2 against Jody Shelley, and in the AHL Brad Staubitz, 0-2-1.

Tim Jackman
30 years old, 6'4” 220 lbs
NHL Record: 19-23-16
Fighting probability: 14.9%

Wins: Montador, Sydor, Glass, Schultz, Stewart, Conboy, Smaby, Deveaux, Bradley, Thorburn, Desbiens, Murray, Hale, Corrente, Hnidy, Oreskovich, Vandermeer, Hendricks, Strudwick

Losses: Clowe (x4), Asham (x2), Engelland (x2), Davison, May, Clarkson, Reich, Mair, Lecavalier, Salvador, Neil, Thornton, Montador, Gaustad, Eager, Boll, Staubitz, Liffiton

Draws: Laperriere, Fitzpatrick, Moreau, Stortini, Gleason, Oreskovic, Thorburn, Salvador, Thornton, Semenov, Hnidy, Davison, Clarkson, Rupp, Clifford, Glass, Peckham

Started off 0-6-2 before his first win over Steve Montador in January 2008.  Is a relatively average fighter since then, rarely taking on heavyweights and winning about half of conclusive fights.

Favourite Opponents: 1-1 against Steve Montador, 1-0-1 against Tanner Glass and Chris Thorburn

Scores to settle: 0-4-0 against Ryan Clowe, 0-2-0 against Arron Asham and Deryk Engelland, 0-1-1 against Rob Davison, David Clarkson, Bryce Salvador, Shawn Thornton

Guillaume Desbiens
26 years old, 6'3” 216 lbs
NHL Record: 1-2-1
AHL Record: 13-19-11
Fighting probability: 18.6%

Wins: McLeod

Losses: Jackman, Stoner

Draws: Moore

Most of Desbiens fighting experience has been in the AHL and ECHL, where he has fought Matt Pelech, Ryan Reaves, Kenndal McArdle, Brad May, J.D. Watt, Nolan Yonkman, Matt Kassian, Ryan Flinn, D.J. King, Brandon Prust, and Ryan Donally. 

Tom Kostopoulos
33 years old, 6'0” 200 lbs
NHL Record: 2-36-13
Fighting probability: 8.7%

Wins: Bieksa, Ott

Losses: Konopka (x3), Asham (x2), Artyukhin (x2), Mayers (x2), Carcillo, Janssen, Nystrom, Voros, Laperriere, Corrente, Sauer, Clarkson, Rechlicz, Rivet, Eager, Stuart, Hnidy, Boll, Reich, O'Brien, Brookbank, Gratton, Tollefsen, Bell, Richmond, Sarich, Moen, Morrow, Beauchemin, Allison, Ward

Draws: Mayers (x2), Sauer, Campbell, Wilson, Welch, Adams, Alberts, Barch, Laperriere, Glumac, Smith, Rossiter

One of the league's worst fighters, even against middle-weights.

Favourite Opponents: 1-0-0 against Kevin Bieksa and Steve Ott, two great fighters oddly enough.

Scores to settle: 0-3 against Konopka, 0-2 against Asham and Artyukhin, 0-2-2 against Jamal Mayers, 0-1-1 against Kurt Sauer.

Final Verdict

The Calgary Flames have two effective fighters on their team, as both Raitis Ivanans and Pierre-Luc Leblond can take on heavyweights and, in the former's case, beat them more often than not. Of course, Ivanans may be forever neutered as an NHL enforcer by the concussion he suffered versus MacIntyre last year and he's currently plying his trade in the AHL as a result.

Players like Tim Jackman and Guillaume Desbiens can step in to fight when games get hot, but shouldn't really be dressed expressly for their fighting. Tom Kostopoulos shouldn't fight at all, unless they're up against the Peoria Paper Bags.

Rob Vollman of is a regular feature writer on ESPN Insider, co-author of Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 and 2011-12, and regular contributor to NHL Numbers, Flames Nation and Arctic Ice Hockey. Innovator of Player Usage Charts, Quality Starts, GVS (Goals Versus Salary), the Snepsts Projection System, and known for work in League Equivalencies (NHLE). Twitter: @robvollmanNHL
#1 ChinookArchYYC
November 13 2011, 06:53PM
Trash it!

So, our best fighter has a 35% chance in winning a fight, meaning he'll likely lose 2/3 fights. This is inspiring to his team mates because . . . Stop this madness, the Flames don't need a 1 dimensional pugilist, with low to no hockey skills.

#2 Puffy
November 13 2011, 09:23PM
Trash it!

No, he has a 35% chance of winning. That does not mean he will lose the other 65% of the time.

I think you're failing to account for the draws.

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