My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is about hockey enforcers and their fights. It goes back to the early years of the early twentieth century and highlights many, many players. Let me tell you, for those of you who think fighting is still prevalent in today’s hockey game, it isn’t. They actually brought people up on murder charges back then! Hockey would break out at fights. It was crazy!
The authors cover early fighters such as Joe Hall, Red Horner, and Sprague Cleghorn before moving on to heavyweights from the original six era. It was fascinating to read about. Things really got bad, though, during the expansion era, circa 1967. When the Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, and other teams came into existence, doors opened for players who previously couldn’t get on with the original six teams. A lot of these were fighters. And so Philly’s Broadstreet Bullies were born, and they terrorized the NHL throughout the ‘70s. I was disappointed the authors didn’t cover someone I consider to be perhaps the most famous enforcer of all time, Dave “The Hammer” Schulz, nor did they cover Bob “The Battleship” Kelly, other than just brief mentions. Still, the fights were tremendous. And tremendous to read about.
The authors then go into pairings of fighters, such as the infamous Bob Probert and Joey Concur, as well as Tiger Williams and Dan Maloney, among others. They then go on to highlight fighters who could score and defend too. They try to cover issues like concussions, but I don’t think they go quite far enough with that. It’s a growing concern and one that shouldn’t be swept under the rug.
It was interesting to read the former enforcer’s take on the current state of the game. They think it’s been ruined by a newish interference rule that has resulted in cheap shots and gone a long way to eliminating the role of enforcer. They think enforcers policed the game and the refs shouldn’t be the ones having to do it themselves and aren’t in a position to do it right either. They think today’s game is watered down with pansy players skating around doing whatever they want. As noted big time enforcer Tiger Williams said in the book, “Some snot-nosed little [punk] that isn’t going to break a nail is going to score 50 goals and he’s never driven to the net in his life. He’s never stood in front of the net with Moose Dupont giving him 89 cross-checks in the back of his head,…. To have today’s play’s players score 400 goals in a no-punch pond hockey league is garbage. Getting in another guy’s face is part of the character of the game.” Well said, Tiger, well said.