In ice hockey, an enforcer is a player whose primary role is to engage in physical play, protect teammates, and enforce the rules on the ice. While the specific responsibilities of an enforcer can vary depending on the team's strategy and the player's skill set, here are some common responsibilities associated with the role.

Key Responsibilities of a Enforcers

Physical Play

Enforcers are often physically imposing players who use their size and strength to intimidate opponents. They engage in aggressive bodychecking, fighting (when allowed), and generally create a physical presence on the ice.

Protecting Teammates

One of the main responsibilities of an enforcer is to protect their teammates from opposing players who may be targeting them or engaging in dirty or dangerous play. This involves intervening in altercations, challenging opponents who take liberties with teammates, and generally acting as a deterrent to opponents looking to intimidate or harm teammates.


While fighting is penalized in ice hockey, it is a part of the enforcer's responsibilities. Enforcers engage in fights with opponents, typically other enforcers or players who have been involved in altercations or dirty plays. By engaging in controlled fights, enforcers aim to stick up for teammates and establish a physical presence.

Energy and Intimidation

Enforcers often bring a high level of energy to the game through their physical play and passionate approach. Their presence on the ice can intimidate opponents, disrupt their focus, and create space for teammates to operate. Enforcers aim to establish a physical tone and make opponents think twice before engaging in reckless or dangerous play.

Team Chemistry

Enforcers often contribute to team chemistry by fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie. They are typically well-liked by teammates and are seen as players who have their teammates' backs. Enforcers can help build team cohesion by standing up for teammates, providing physical support, and creating a strong team identity.

Best NHL Enforcers of All Time

  • Bob Probert: Bob Probert is widely regarded as one of the most feared enforcers in NHL history. He played for the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks during his career from 1985 to 2002. Probert was known for his toughness, intimidating presence, and willingness to defend his teammates. He accumulated over 3,300 penalty minutes in his career and was an excellent fighter.
  • Tie Domi: Tie Domi was a fan favorite and one of the toughest enforcers to ever play in the NHL. He spent most of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1989 to 2006. Domi was known for his aggressive style of play and his ability to win fights against much larger opponents. Despite his role as an enforcer, Domi also contributed offensively, scoring over 100 goals in his career.
  • Dave Semenko: Dave Semenko is best remembered as the enforcer and protector of Wayne Gretzky during their time with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s. Semenko played an integral role in ensuring Gretzky's safety on the ice. He was known for his toughness, fighting ability, and willingness to stand up for his teammates. Semenko's contributions were instrumental in the Oilers' success during their dynasty years.
  • Marty McSorley: Marty McSorley was a key enforcer during the Edmonton Oilers' glory days alongside Wayne Gretzky. He played from 1983 to 2000 for several teams, including the Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers, and Pittsburgh Penguins. McSorley's physicality, fighting skills, and defensive abilities made him a valuable asset to his teams. He is perhaps best known for his incident involving a stick infraction against Donald Brashear in 2000, which resulted in a suspension.
  • Chris Nilan: Chris "Knuckles" Nilan played primarily for the Montreal Canadiens during his NHL career from 1979 to 1992. He was known for his relentless fighting style and his willingness to stand up for his teammates. Nilan was a skilled enforcer who provided energy and physicality on the ice. Despite his role as an enforcer, he also contributed offensively, scoring over 100 goals in his career.