Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bad Ass Enforcer Nicknames

New York Rangers tough guy Derek Boogaard was found dead in his apartment over the weekend.  In addition to being a really good fighter, he had a pretty cool if obvious nickname: The Boogey Man.  In honor of him, here's the Top 5 nicknames for NHL fighters.  Talent and nickname are taken into consideration.  So sorry Marty McSorely and Tie Domi, you're not on this list.  Neither are you Craig "Chief" Berube.  And while Peter Worrell once told the police he was Andreas Lilja, that doesn't qualify as a nickname. (Click on their names to see why that ruse didn't work with the cops.)

George Parros' mustache is just too cool to not put on here.

5. Terry "Bloody" O'Reilly

O'Reilly could do it all.  He scored 20+ goals four times, and had 4 straight seasons of over 40 assists.  In 1977-78 he had 90 points in the regular season and 15 points in 15 games in the playoffs.  He served as the Captain of the Boston Bruins for two years, and as a coach led the Bruins to the Finals in 1988.  In essentially a 13 year career (we'll overlook his 1 game 1971-72 season) he accumulated 2095 penalty minutes.

Okay, so "Bloody" is not the greatest of nicknames.  O'Reilly was fucking nuts, so why don't you tell him his nickname was unimaginative...

That's what I thought.  And yes, that's former Islanders GM Mike Milbury in the stands, in one of his many incredibly dumb decisions as a player, coach and general manager.  He still won't apologize for that.

4. Derek "The Boogey Man" Boogaard

Boogaard was on his team for reason and one reason only: to beat the crap out of the opposition.  Generally, even the least talented players in the league scored at the junior and minor league level, because they had some basic talent.  For example, this season's leader in PIMs, Zenon Konopka, scored 20+ goals in juniors and both levels of the minors.

Not the Boogey Man.  He had 8 goals combined.  He never hit double digits in points.  Of course, when you're 6'7" and 265 pounds and mean as can be, you don't need to worry about actually touching the puck.  Just go skate towards someone and they'll get the hell out of your way.  Boogaard didn't rack up the PIMs because like Tony Twist before him, no one wanted to fight him because they know they would get their ass kicked.

3. Stu Grimson aka "The Grim Reaper"

When you're nicknamed after the bringer of death, you know you're tough.  Stu Grimson was 6'6" and could beat up anybody.  Grimson played for 7 teams over 13 seasons that spanned the 1990s, playing in 729 games and racking up an impressive 2113 penalty minutes.  He also probably a psycho:

Mike Peluso, Basil McRae, Shane Churla and big bad Stu Grimson is a recipe for fun:

2. The Bruise Brothers: Joey Kocur and Bob Probert

Neither one had great nickname individually, but together these two all-time greats formed "The Bruise Brothers" and the terrorized the NHL for years together in Detroit.  Bob Probert was the best fighter of the 90s, and had 283 fights to show for it.  Also, he spent time in prison for possession of cocaine, so by fighting him you were fighting a guy who might have been high on coke at the time and had the added bonus of having been through prison, so he might even shank you.  He also got into legal trouble again for drunk driving.  In other words, Probert was big, he was tough, he was good and he was dumb.  That is not a guy you want to fight.

Joey Kocur was a special kind of stupid tough.  It's not a very good idea to punch a helmet, you'll wind up doing more damage to your hand than to the other guy's head.  But that didn't stop Joey, who broke multiple helmets in his 16 year career.  He also broke orbital bones, teeth and jaws of his opponents and naturally his own hand a few times.

1. Dave "The Hammer" Schultz

(I'm a Flyers fan, what did you expect?)

The Philadelphia Flyers of the 70's were known as the "Broad Street Bullies" because well, they were tough as shit.  Bob Clarke once broke a guy's ankle with his stick and offered no apology.  Moose Dupont summed it up best: "we beat up their chicken forwards, we win the game and we don't go to jail.  And now the Moose drinks beer."  Read that again: he had to point out that they didn't go to jail.  This team had complete disregard for their bodies which meant they had even less regard for their opponents.  Oh, and to top it all off, they were great, winning back to back Stanley Cups in 1974 and '75 and reaching the Finals again in '76.

And the baddest bad ass of them all was The Hammer.  Schultz played 7 full seasons and led the league in PIMs four times, twice having over 400 PIMs, including a record 472.  Only two other players have had 400+ once.  He could also play a little bit, once scoring 20 goals, which is a bit more impressive when you keep in mind all the ice time he missed sitting in the penalty box for 348 minutes.  But he was on the team to protect the team's stars and to give the already physical Flyers an extra element that no team had.  You didn't want to fight him, but because of the Flyers pro-active and aggressive style it didn't matter.  He'd hunt you down and force you to fight.

The ironic thing is that Schultz didn't even really enjoy fighting like most enforcers do.  But he knew that it was why he was in the NHL, so he did it.  And no one did it quite like The Hammer.

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