The role of the enforcer has slowly been phased out of the NHL in recent years, with fighting on a steep decline since 2011. Many folks believe this is because there aren’t enough “heavyweights” anymore and not enough players willing to drop the gloves to protect their teammates. While I’ll leave that debate for another time, it’s evident that the game is moving towards speed and skill over brute force.
With that in mind, I’m going to be examining some NHL players using physics and math to calculate their relative size. While not perfect, these estimations should give us a rough idea about how big certain players are compared to one another. One thing should be made clear, this is not a definitive guide on who would win in a fight. The goal here is to gain an appreciation for the sizes of these players as well as how they compare with one another .
average nhl player size
When looking at the data for these players, it’s important to realize that this is not an exhaustive list. There are still plenty of players in the league who haven’t been examined. Also note that I’m using height and weight information from ESPN which has proven to be fairly reliable .
There are only two things you can measure in hockey: height and weight. The other metrics like wingspan, speed, reach, etc don’t really apply to the game itself. That said, height and weight are still important factors in describing any player on the ice.
NHL player size has been a topic of debate for many years
Among hockey fans the debate has been whether or not bigger is better or if it’s more important to have speed and skill. Does a larger player give you an advantage in the corners, protecting the puck? Or does a smaller player have a greater chance at dodging a hit? Is goalie height more important than skating ability?
A few years ago I did some research on the physics of fighting in hockey and comparisons were made to UFC fighting at that time . I took a look at Jon Jones and George St. Pierre who happen to be two of the larger fighters in their respective weight classes. While not exactly NHL players, it is interesting to show how much bigger they are than even the biggest players in the NHL. In Jones’ case he’s 18% larger than most of the league’s players, while GSP is at a whopping 29%.
What if I don’t know my height in inches
If you don’t know your height in inches, you can use this calculator . It’s not perfect (that’s why there’s a +/- 20% allowance) but it should give you a pretty close estimate of your height in inches.
While it’s very easy to look at the size of NHL players, there’s no guarantee that they’re taking advantage of their body type. Over the years we’ve seen plenty of smaller but talented players emerge who couldn’t overpower an opponent to save their life. And then you have the likes of Zdeno Chara who despite his size is a force to be reckoned with on the ice. There’s a reason why he’s won a Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman.
So the next time you’re watching a game and someone makes a comment about how big or small a player is, remember that it’s relative to the size of his peers. And also keep in mind that most players are often listed with a height/weight combination that is usually higher than what they actually are in any case, it’s great to have a better appreciation for the size of NHL players. Even if you’re not a fan of physical hockey, just imagine how much bigger it would be if all players were as big as John Scott! He stands at 6’8″ and weighs 260 lbs which makes him one tough dude.