Enforcers, Goons and Fighters oh my! A list of NHL tough guys: Part Two

A couple months ago I set out to list some of my favourite lesser known tough guys from years past. Turned out to be a pretty popular subject (naturally), so I here I am with another five guys for part two.

In no particular order…..

Todd Ewen

1. Todd Ewen
Todd Ewen had a pretty so-so career as an enforcer until he managed to knock out Bob Probert with one punch in only his second NHL fight. With that reputation under his belt, Ewen managed to grab a ton of playing time when he was picked up in a trade after the expansion draft by the newly minted Anaheim Mighty Ducks.  Along with his sidekick Stu Grimson, Ewen held the assistant captaincy for the entire three years he was in California. As the popularity of the Ducks started to increase, Ewen was put out on the ice to protect stars like Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. Hard to believe that the Ducks had one of the best one-two fighting punches in the league at one point.
Ewen ended his NHL career with 1911 penalty minutes.


2. Ryan VandenBussche

One of the best enforcers to get his start with the Cornwall Royals, VandenBussche managed to play in nine NHL seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. He is probably best remembered for blooding and knocking out Nick Kypreos thus ending his career.

Watch the video. Kypreos is lights out as soon as the fist makes contact.

3. Andy Bezeau

Okay. I lied. This guy never made the NHL but Christ was he a nut job that deserves to be talked about.

A tough east-coast Canadian, Bezeau was actually drafted by the Boston Bruins in the early 90’s. Never making the show he spent 10 years in the minors, throwing punches for the Moncton Hawks, Fort Wayne Komets, South Carolina Stingrays and Detroit Vipers among others.

The best story he has? Being traded for a pair of washing machines. Even Paul Holmgren can’t make that stuff up.

He even managed to somehow work his way into the London Knights of the British Superleague in the early 2000s.

Watch a compilation of his with a great title:

4. Dave Manson

Nicknamed “Charlie” (I’ll let you make the correlation.), Manson was actually one of the few enforcers who had the hockey skill to back up his play. Playing in 1101 games throughout his NHL career, Manson managed to notched 390 points to compliment his 2792 penalty minutes. Not too shabby.

In one altercation with mediocre legend Sergio Momesso, Manson caught a punch in his throat damaging his larynx permanently. This made his voice raspy from here on out but that just added to his lore.

Oh and the Leafs traded him for Jyrki Lumme so there’s that too.

5. Lyndon Byers

Lyndon ByersByers was a bit of a monster of a man and his role was to protect the stars of the Boston Bruins. He managed to rack up 1081 penalty minutes in only 279 games. He spent most of his career floating between the Bruins and their farm system before packing the skates away in 1995.

After hockey his career went into a complete different direction. He’s now a radio personality for a station in Boston and has made numerous appearances on tv shows throughout the years. Not bad for a kid from Saskatchewan.


Enforcers, Goons and Fighters, oh my! A list of NHL tough guys from March’s eyes Part One

Bob_Probert_-_Darren_LangdonIn my humble opinion, the NHL of the 1980s and 1990s was the best time to be a fan of the league. Little to no sponsorships, endorsement deals were few and far between, no insane physical testing and if you could throw a few punches while balancing on skates well, you had yourself a job.

The fighter, goon, or tough guy if you will is long gone from today’s NHL. Yes of course there are still fights but if you don’t know how to use your stick and score more than a few goals, say goodbye to the big leagues and welcome to the LNAH. (Unless you’re John Scott apparently but he’s a whole separate post waiting to be written.) With the additions of European and Russian players into the league, emphasis was brought upon speed and skill. Combined with the rough and tumble, hard-hitting North American style, we have the league that we see now.

Without going into the obvious choices for the best of the best, like Bob Probert and company, the players I’m listing here may not be house hold goon names. A lot of my readers are hockey fans from the United Kingdom who are relatively new fans of the game. I figured I would give you all a look at some of the lesser known fighters that I grew up with.

Growing up I was an avid hockey card collector. Along with my infamous collection I would pick up old VHS hockey blooper and hockey fight tapes from yard sales and flea markets throughout the area. I used to watch these over and over. I’d have a sick day from school and I’d spend hours watching them with my Uncle who would babysit me. We’d have a blast. So without further ado, here’s part one of a list of NHL enforcers (in no particular order) from my eyes.

1. John Kordic

kordicKordic was insane. He obviously knew how to throw a few punches but he also knew how to take them mostly to being coked out of his mind every game. His drug and alcohol problems were well documented and after a short seven year career, Kordic overdosed and died at the age of lucky number 27. Along with fellow enforcer Chris Nilan, Kordic was a part of the 1986 Stanley Cup champions; the Montreal Canadiens. He is also famous for being in an epic trade that sent him to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Russ Courtnall. Some of his more famous fights are with other players on this list.

2. Jay Miller

At 6’2, 210 pounds, Miller was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in 1990. The feisty American left winger was eventually picked up by the Boston Bruins and split his career between them and the Los Angeles Kings. After 8 years, Miller amassed 1723 penalty minutes in only 446 games. Most of his fights included the aforementioned John Kordic which added more fuel to the ever growing rivalry between the Canadiens and the Bruins.

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