What Is An Enforcer In Hockey

An enforcer in hockey is an extremely physical player that is responsible for protecting the skill players on his team. An enforcer is not an actual position but rather a role played by a skater, in most cases a forward.

Enforcers are often the leading hitters on the team. There are often called upon to step up for a fight if one of the skill players on their team is the victim of a big hit. Enforcers have become less common in the NHL due to lowered rates of fighting.

What Are Enforcers Duties?

Just like any other player, the enforcer has several duties he must complete for the team. Though these duties might not be scoring goals they are still very important to the team.


Fighting is one of the most important aspects of being an enforcer in hockey. There are many different situations in which an enforcer must step up to fight.

If the opposing team’s tough guy is looking for a fight an enforcer is almost always the guy answering the bell. As a teams enforcer, you cannot let your teammates with little fighting experience take on another teams enforcer.

Not to mention the typically large size of enforcers means the majority of your teammates are out of consideration due to their smaller frames.

Instead, this player must step up and take the challenge. This expectation to fight also arises if a player is injured or shaken up from a dirty hit. Whether it’s the game the hit occurs or the next time the teams face off the enforcer is likely going to have to drop the gloves.

These fights not only land you in the penalty box for five minutes but are also extremely physically taxing.

Protecting Teammates

Aside from fighting an enforcer has to stick up for his teammates in several different ways. One example is after the whistle. Oftentimes bigger players on the opposing team will make an effort to mess with skill players.

This usually means shoving or giving out face washes after the whistle. While the enforcer is on the ice he needs to ensure this kinda stuff does not happen to his teammates. In other words, he should be the one giving out face washes.

Secondly, these players will have also have to come in physically when a big/dirty hit is laid against their teammates. Not all of these hits require a fight meaning sometimes the enforcer has to step up in other ways.

Oftentimes this is a little tussle immediately after the hit to let the player know he can’t hit your teammates like that. On other occasions, this may mean the enforcer is going to have to go out and lay a big hit himself.

Additionally, the enforcer has to try and complete these acts of retaliation without earning himself a penalty.

Energizing The Team

Aside from protecting his teammates, this type of player can also be responsible for bringing the team energy. Momentum is a very real factor in hockey and if your team doesn’t have it, it usually takes something dramatic to gain it back.

This is why you will sometimes see enforcers fighting or laying out devastating hits while the team is low energy.

When an enforcer’s teammates see the player going out and laying their body on the line they cannot help but get motivated. This role of the enforcer is often overlooked despite it having the ability to change the course of a game if the team capitalizes on the momentum.

Playing Hockey

Despite the majority of these players games being built around physicality, these players are still incredibly skilled. Enforcers will most often be noticed when fighting or throwing their bodies around but this is not all they do.

When your team is winning a game the enforcer shouldn’t be looking for fights or big hits. There are many situations like this in which an enforcers responsibility is to play mistake-free hockey.

In most cases, these players won’t be expected to do much with the puck but every once and a while an enforcer finds a way to put on in the net.

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