While it’s one of a hockey player’s main goals on the ice, it’s not easy: separating the puck from the player. Getting between a player and the puck is an essential way to gain control of the puck, but it is far from a simple science; body checking another player is actually an art that requires extreme skill, an immense amount of practice, a lot of strength, and a bit of good timing and luck. To learn about some of the best checking artists and hardest hitters playing hockey today, check out the players below.
Milan Lucic is one of the hardest hitters in professional hockey. Lucic plays for the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL, and he succeeds as an excellent body checker in part because of his size. Lucic is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 236 pounds, which means he can use his size and force to get between the puck and another player. For an example of Lucic body checking another player in action, take a look at this clip of him sending Mike Van Ryn through the glass in 2008.
Matt Martin, who currently plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs, weighs 220 pounds. He’s also one of the best body checkers around, sometimes called the Blue and White Freight Train. Martin’s not only appreciated for his ability to hit guys and regain possession of the puck, but he can also score points, making him a valuable asset to any pro hockey team. Martin had 300 hits last season. To see him in action, check out this video of his hit on Keith Ballard in 2014.
In 2016, when NHL players were asked who the hardest hitter in the league was, many said Dustin Byfuglien – or “Buff.” Buff currently plays for the Winnipeg Jets, and he has played both forward and defense throughout his hockey career. Here is a compilation of some of his biggest hits. Last season, Buff had 117 PIM – indicating his level of aggressiveness.