Thursday, September 27, 2007

Announcing the 2500 Penalties In Minutes & 300 Points Club

This is something I thought of for no real reason one day. This stems from the fact that the pure 'enforcer' is a dying breed. Gone are the days when a 4th line winger that can't skate and is only there to fight could flourish in the NHL. These days you need a skill set to atleast be decent with the puck to be looking at a decent NHL career.

So I thought about compiling a list of historic tough guys that also could score some points. The idea really came to fruition with the concussion forced retirement of a Sweater Ted favorite, Matthew Barnaby. One of the reports pointed out he had 300 points even, so I figured that'd be as good a cutoff as any.

First, some active players that are close inductees:
--Gary Roberts is an absolute lock at 2493 PIMs to go along with his 888 career points. Gary Roberts can look at a referee the wrong way and draw 7 penalty minutes Expect him to make this list as the 12 inductee by about mid-October. In fact, if he sees how awesome this list is, expect him to make it in about an hour.

--Brendan Shanahan needs 75 PIMs to qualify...But considering Shanny's game has evolved to less fiery and more a "pick your spot goal-scoring veteran", it's noteworthy to point out he only spent 47 minutes in the box in 2006-07, it’s conceivable he falls a little short if this is his last season.

After that, no one is one the horizon, and that is the beauty of this club. You can't just be tough and get in a lot of fights. You can't just be a skill player that has an edge. Either way, you'll come up short in one category or the other.

For instance:
-those who would easily have the PIMs, your average enforcer (Donald Brashear and his 2312 PIMs) won’t be able to score the points (he’s 35 years old now and only has 192).

-a guy who easily has the points (like Keith Tkachuk) usually falls hundreds of PIMs short (Tkachuk has 2033 in his career).

Looking far into the future, perhaps Sean Avery (134 points, 913 PIMs) one day will join this prestigious fraternity, but there's still a long road ahead of him of being a pest, and he'd need many more healthy seasons of plying his craft. Feel free to pipe up in the comments if I'm missing a new impending member, but I think I got all my bases covered here.

So without further adue

The honorable 2500 penalties in minutes and 300 points club

Tiger Williams (3966 penalties in minutes, 513 points)

Probably the most badass of all time, Tiger Williams is synonymous with out of control mayhem and general awesomeness. But he could play a little hockey and is truly the godfather of this club. I'm too young to really appreciate his glory, but I still know that Tiger Williams is pretty much the man.

Dale Hunter (3565 penalties in minutes, 1020 points)

Dale Hunter is known for a lot of things, perhaps first and foremost the brutal late hit on Pierre Turgeon. But he's second on this list in total points and was a great leader for his teams. Capitals fans hold this guy in very high regard. Though sometimes he'd lose his cool, he's pretty much what a hockey player should be in my opinion: tough, skilled, and a leader. He's the epitome of this club.

Marty McSorely (3381 penalties in minutes, 359 points)

Unfortunately, like Dale Hunter, McSorely is remember for an unacceptable split second decision he made at the tail end of his career, to tomahawk Donald Brashear. But McSorely earned his bones by protecting the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux for much of his career and was atleast good enough of a player to enjoy a lengthy NHL career.

Bob Probert (3300 penalties in minutes, 384 points)

Players like Bob Probert aren't around anymore. One of the toughest players in history, Probert was just flat a monster at beating people up. I must admit, when compiling this list I was surprised to see Probert got the points to make the cut; since most of my memories of him playing come from the tail end of his career when he wasn't much of a scoring threat. But Probert scored 13 or more goals six times in his career, and in 1987-88 he had 29 goals and 33 assists to go along with 398 penalty minutes. Just shows you how much the game has evolved in the last 20 years.

Rick Tocchet (2970 penalties in minutes, 952 points)

Controversy often follows members of this club (like aforementioned Hunter and McSorely), since they naturally seem to be risk takers and are inherently hot under the collar. Unfortunately Rick Tocchet's name is more linked to gambling nowadays then it is to being a true power forward. He was on Mario Lemieux's wing for the Cup years and an absolute force to be reckoned with. Cam Neely (1241 PIMs and 694 points) was probably the premier power forward during Tocchet's prime, but Tocchet was an extremely dangerous player in every way for many years.

Pat Verbeek (2905 penalties in minutes, 1063 points)

"The Little Ball of Hate" is probably the coolest nickname ever. Verbeek, listed at 5'9, was never afraid to go into the tall trees and always disturb things. His career points total makes him #1 on this list. A lot of skill and a lot of fury on the ice. I love it. That's why this club exists to showcase warriors like Verbeek that aren't true enforcers (unlike some in this fraternity) but just skilled, hard-nosed players that it's a pain to play against. No opponents enjoyed playing against Verbeek because they knew he would always go balls to the wall and leave it all out on the ice. To me, that's the best compliment you can pay someone.

Chris Chelios (2837 penalties in minutes 936 points)

Chris Chelios is so old he's probably in every club you can make up, like this one and probably even Jesus's original book club. Credit him for being able to keep in shape and keep playing the game, and still not taking shit from anyone, even if they're young enough to be his son. Chelios could have retired after the Red Wings won the Cup in 2002 and still made this club, by the way. Even Gordie Howe thinks this dude needs to hang 'em up. If you were wondering, Howe "only" had 1685 PIMs in his NHL career, so even he falls short on this most exclusive club.

Dave Manson (2792 penalties in minutes 390 points)

Dave Manson was the name of a player I'd heard, but I had to look him up; I'm too young to really remember him as an impact player in any team or particular game. But, I'll give you this: only 3 defensemen are in this club and the other 2 are sure-fire hall of famers. I don't know what that says for Manson, but he's in good company.

Scott Stevens (2785 penalties in minutes 908 points)

Scott Stevens means business. Probably the toughest hockey player I've ever seen. Not just because of the devastating, highlight reel hits (whattup Eric Lindros?) but just how he played seemingly 30 minutes a night, every night and was so smooth, so IN CONTROL. I think a lot of that rubbed off of a younger teammate and partner of his Scott Niedermayer. Stevens was awesome as an offensive-defenseman in Washington and a total rock for New Jersey as he aged. He and Marty Brodeur are the Devils. When I dreamed up this club, I was looking for players with crazy toughness and some skill to match...Clearly Scott Stevens was made for it.

Willi Plett (2572 penalties in minutes 437 points)

I was a little surprised about Dave Manson, but I'll admit Willi Plett was the only guy I've never heard of. At all. He retired when I was 4 years old and played for such powerhouses as the Atlanta Flames and the Minnesota North Stars. The only thing I know about the Atlanta Flames is I hate Clement, Clement Hands of Cement and the only memories I have of the North Stars is how Mario tore through them to give the Pens a Cup. But, looking at Plett's hockeydb profile, he scored 38 or more points seven times in his career and every year he had double digit PIMs. Must have had a bit of an edge and some skill to match, so we'll let him in.

Matthew Barnaby (2562 penalties in minutes, 300 points)

Newest inductee Matthew Barnaby knows about being a pest. He had to literally fight his way onto a junior team that he showed up weighing 140 pounds. He turned out a solid NHL career that he announced this summer was over due to concussion woes. Barnaby was the ultimate nuisance, a player who could actually play the game, but always knew his role and never hesitated in sticking up for the team, even when it meant fighting someone much taller and heavier. Unlike enforcers he wasn’t a totally liability on the ice but unlike skill players, he didn’t have the natural talent to slide through on point production alone.

Barnaby was the ultimate crowd pleaser, still a fan favorite in places in Buffalo and Pittsburgh even though he's long left them. Opponents and rivals hated him (some fans still do), which is only a testament to how good he was at doing his job. The shame is Barnaby had to retire young, and couldn't climb higher on this list. Still, not bad for a kid coming from nothing.

That's your 11 members of the 2500 PIMs + 300 point club. Fierce but skilled. Not afraid to mix it up, but strong enough to still help their teams. Tough enough to compete for a long, long period of time in a gruesome NHL world. These are your alpha-males. These are the top dogs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You like Barnaby too much..Get over it.