The Top 10 NHL goons of all-time
Call them what you want but the fact is that goons play an important role in the sport of hockey. The goon is used to protect each player on his team from idiots on the other teams by any means necessary while entertaining millions of people on the tube.
My top 10 list is not based on goals, assists, points or minutes of ice time per game. This list is about being the biggest goons, enforcers, bad-asses or whatever you want to call them, whose assets are punching, entertaining, intimidation and no fear to drop the gloves with anyone.
And now, we will not keep you waiting...
#10 – Dave Brown
Standng at 6 ft 5 inches tall and 220 pounds, I had to put Brown on my list. This guy had no other talent besides to serve and protect. He did have the pleasure in babysitting Wayne Gretzky for a short time, but was simply a scary guy. In 1987 he was suspended for 15 games, one of the hardest suspensions at the time, for crosschecking a New York Ranger in the face.
#9 – Stu Grimson
The 6 foot 6 inch, 240 pound Frimson was known to the world as the “Grim Reaper” for good reason. Oddly enough, Grimson had trouble with smaller, stockier fighters since his balance was awful in his early career. This guy belonged in an insane asylum for a good part of his life; he had 8 seasons with over 150 penalty minutes including over 2,000 in his NHL career. If there were no referees, he may have actually killed people.
#8 – Tie Domi
I hate this guy as much as the next guy but he was good at his job. Never the tallest of fighters (5'10", 200 lbs.), Domi has fought the best of the best and has never really done that bad. Twice he had seasons with over 340 penalty minutes accumulating over 3,000 in his NHL life. This little bastard was no joke with his style of grabbing, leaning away and haymaker surprise. To me, he was more of a goof than a fighter; I just would not say it to his face.
#7 – Gordie Howe
We all know about Gordie Howe the hockey player but this guy could really hold his in any battle as shown by his 6 ft 1 inch, 205 pound frame. He loved to ram his elbow into the faces of his opponents which caused some good ole’ fashioned brawls. Either way, Howe’s balance was second to none and it was nearly impossible to take him off his feet. He is the inventor of the “Gordie Howe hat-trick” (a goal, an assist and a fight in one game).
#6 – Clark Gillies
I know he never had more than 100 PIM’s in a single NHL season and the reason was that no one wanted to go toe-to-toe with this 6 ft 3 inch, 210 pound monster. When he fought, destruction was the result. Gillies beat the hell out of Terry O’Reilly (#5 on my list) along with anyone else in his way. The rule was simple with Gillies; do not mess with his team and he will not mess you up. His intimidation factor was enormous resulting in a ton of respect.
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#5 – Terry O’Reilly
Dirty. Dangerous. Disturbed. “Bloody” O’Reilly did not follow the rules of the NHL. If he wanted to do something, he was going to do it. He spent a good chunk of this career protecting Ray Bourque while his 6 ft 1 inch, 200 pound frame racked up over 2,000 PIM’s. In a famous 1979 post game brawl, O’Reilly climbed over the glass into the crowd after a guy who somehow got a hockey stick and attempted to spear him with it. Hell of a hockey player. Hell of a goon.
#4 – Joey Kocur
6 feet tall, 220 pounds - One half of the very famous “Bruise Brothers,” Kocur may have had the most powerful right hand in NHL history. That right hand has broken orbital bones, noses and at least 10 hockey helmets. Expect to get injured challenging this guy as players have suffered concussions fighting Kocur with their helmets on.
#3 – Dave Shultz
6 ft 1 inch, 195 pounds - A key member of the “Broad Street Bullies” of the 1970’s, Shultz’s aggressiveness earned him the name “Hammer.” He holds the record for PIM’s in a single season with 472 and was the first fighter to ever wear boxing straps in hockey fights which eventually were banned. Funny enough, he got his ego fed to him when he looked like a novice against a much smaller and older Tim Horton.
#2 (tie) – Dave Semenko
Any bodyguard for the Wayne Gretzky must be tough, and at 6 ft 3 inches, 215 pounds Semenko was a tough one. It was thanks to his protection that Gretzky, Mark Messier and many others had great careers. Semenko offered them freedom on the ice to do whatever they wanted, when they wanted. This guy had a better grip than a clamp and was famous for his damaging jab.
Like Gillies, the intimidation factor was so big, that only the big-named fighters had the balls to fight him. Actually, Semenko even fought Muhammad Ali in the early 1980s.
#2 (tie) - Bob Probert
The heavyweight champion of the 1990’s, no question, Probert was the second half of the “Bruise Brothers.” Players tried to take his belt on many occasions and after losing, they would try and lose again to this 6 ft 3 inches, 230 pound goon. He has fought everyone at least once including taking on Grimson 13 times. Red Wing teammate Keith Primeau was one of the few that stood his ground against Probert during a fight at a team practice.
Probert was involved in 283 NHL fights and how many he won is very opinionated, though I am sure around 210 of them are convincing wins. He was big, mean and let his fists do all the talking.
And my winner for the best goon in NHL history goes to…
#1 – Tiger Williams
At 5 ft, 11 inches tall and 200 pounds, Tiger Williams is my godfather of NHL goons. This guy sat in the penalty box for 4421 minutes or almost 74 hours; more than anybody else in history. Williams tallied over 300 PIMs in a season six times and over 250 PIMs, ten times. These are the penalties that the referees caught; Williams was a dirty son of a b**** behind the scenes.
He really respected O’Reilly but thought the toughest fighter out there was Semenko. He found this many times in his life especially during the awesome Toronto/Philadelphia line brawls. The two once battled for a solid 90 seconds before both agreed that their arms were done. Williams may have enjoyed to get punched and would take one to give two or three blows.
Tiger Williams is the biggest bad-ass in NHL history. Golf has a dominating Tiger but I would bet my house that hockey’s Tiger is more dominate.
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Top Hockey Goons Honorable Mention:
By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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