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Top 10 Best Fights of the 2013 NHL Season So Far

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Top 10 Best Fights of the 2013 NHL Season So Far

Jim Cowsert - USA TODAY Sports

Okay, let's admit it -- people who enjoy hockey, especially the most diehard of NHL fans, love the fights that inevitably ensue when two or more players get irked with one another, or when a player, as part of a bigger strategy to intimidate and place a check on an opposing team or on specific player(s), intentionally picks a fight. It's just part of the game and part of why we can't stop watching.

For the uninitiated, fighting in hockey is typically carried out by one or more enforcers, or "goons"— players who take on the role of fighting and intimidating — on a given team and is governed by an elaborate system of unspoken/unwritten rules that players, officials, coaches and the media refer to as "the code". Inherent physical plays in hockey, consisting of accepted techniques like checking and other frowned-upon techniques which include elbowing, cross-checking and high-sticking, are predictably tied to fighting on the ice. Some fights are spur of the moment while others are planned out by those who engage in the fighting.

The fighting aspect of hockey has been widely criticized for various reasons, but seriously -- what would hockey be like to watch without all the fights?

We are still early on in the current season with many more great fights to look forward to, but here's an overview of 10 of the very best so far (including preseason games) in ascending "ferocity" with an overall grade of my own.

What do you think? Do you agree with me on these best 10 fights? Let me know!

Jonathan W. Crowell is a writer and an online sports blogger for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JW_Crowell, “like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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10. Krys Barch vs. Brett Gallant

Noah K Murray - USA TODAY Sports

September 22, 2013

Brett Gallant of the New York Islanders and Krys Barch of the Florida Panthers dropped their gloves and helmets, and the two started swinging and landing punches. They ended up toe to toe, continuing to throw punches. Barch fell back on the ice and brought Gallant down with him. Gallant got many more punches in, leaving Barch with a nasty cut under the eye. Grade: A-

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9. Jonathan Bernier vs. Ryan Miller

John E Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

September 22, 2013

Fights between goaltenders are rare. Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres and Jonathan Bernier of the Toronto Maple Leafs came out of their nets to join an ongoing brawl. After some swings that didn't quite connect, Miller finally landed a right then Bernier landed more than 10 consecutive solid rights. There was lots of energy with lots of punches and many misses, but Bernier seemed to have gotten the best of Miller. Grade: A-

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8. Brian McGrattan vs. Michael Sdao

Brian McGrattan
Sergei Belski - USA TODAY Sports

September 16, 2013

Brian McGrattan of the Calgary Flames (one of the league's bigger and best fighters) and Michael Sdao of the Ottawa Senators both dropped their gloves followed by McGrattan absolutely laying into Sdao and sending him down onto the ice in a heap. Even while Sdao was still down McGrattan continued to lay into him. The refs intervened and stopped the brouhaha before McGrattan sent the guy to the hospital. Grade: A-

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7. Corey Tropp vs. Jamie Devane

Corey Tropp
John E Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

September 22, 2013

This was a KO, no doubt, for Jamie Devane of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Devane ended up landing a hit that floored Corey Tropp of the Buffalo Sabres, who was then down and out for the count. Tropp also hit his head on the ice when he went down and needed assistance as he left the game. Grade: A

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6. Jay Rosehill vs. Eric Boulton

Jay Rosehill
Bruce Fedyck - USA TODAY Sports

October 26, 2013

Both Jay Rosehill of the Philadelphia Flyers and Eric Boulton of the New York Islanders got to scrapping and both landed some real doozies. Rosehill was quick right off the rip, then Boulton got settled and came back admirably. This was definitely a draw and an excellent fight. Grade: A

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5. Josh Anderson vs. Conor Allen

Josh Anderson
Russell LaBounty - USA TODAY Sports

September 8, 2013

Josh Anderson of the Columbus Blue Jackets ran over Ryan Graves of the New York Rangers, and New York's Conor Allen stepped in. The gloves came off and Anderson and Allen grabbed onto one another. Anderson started connecting after several missed swings by both players, and then he landed a killer right that sent Allen to the floor with his helmet flying right off. KO for Anderson. Grade: A

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4. Brian McGrattan vs. Patrick Bordeleau

Brian McGrattan vs Patrick Bordeleau
Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports

November 8, 2013

Patrick Bordeleau of the Colorado Avalanche got in close with Brian McGrattan of the Calgary Flames and got a quick grip before McGrattan could respond. The two closed in toe to toe, and the chaos ensued. This showdown didn't disappoint and lots of blood followed. Grade: A+

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3. Braden Holtby vs. Ray Emery

Braden Holtby vs Ray Emery
Eric Hartline - USA TODAY Sports

November 1, 2013

Another goaltender brawl. Amidst an array of ongoing fights on the ice, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ray Emery, who has a reputation for being a brawler on the ice, skated all the way down the rink and approached Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. Holtby didn't want to engage, but Emery grabbed him by the jersey and put the smack down on him as Holtby cowed. Brutal. Grade: A+

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2. Brett Gallant vs. Brian McGrattan

Brett Gallant
Noah K Murray - USA TODAY Sports

September 17, 2013

Brett Gallant of the New York Islanders dropped his gloves and faced off with Brian McGrattan of the Calgary Flames. They squared off and after grabbing on the hits started to fly. Both players let the solid right handers go on one another, and both stood their ground well. Grade: A+

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1. Joel Rechlicz vs. Milan Lucic

Joel Rechlicz vs Milan Lucic
Bob DeChiara - USA TODAY Sports

September 23, 2013

Both players went toe to toe right from the start, and both landed several good clean shots. Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins landed the best early on, however. Joel Rechlicz of the Washington Capitals fired back with a few good hits of his own. This was a real barn-burner and arguably the best of the season so far. Grade: A++