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Thug Life: The Top 10 Tough Guys from S66-S70

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The True Impact of a Hockey Fight – Georgetown Sports Analysis

 

Thug Life: The Top 10 Tough Guys from S66-S70

 

Tough guys have been a staple in ice hockey since the first blades carved up a frozen pond. They have gone by many names over the years: “goon”, “enforcer”, “pugilist”, “wrecking ball”, “police”, “nuclear deterrent”. They are usually not the most skilled players, but they bring a desired skill set. Their job is not fancy footwork or highlight reel goals or dizzying dangles. They patrol the ice with their own code and their role can change throughout the ebb and flow of a game. Duties may include, but are not limited to: a crushing check, a premeditated taunt, a warning slash, a belligerent net presence, and occasionally a knowing nod, throw gloves and caution to the wind and square off against the meanest hombres in the sport.

 

Courage. Determination. Adrenaline. Pain. Fury. Whirlwind. Grapple. Tumble. Torn Apart.

 

Pain? Oh yeah. Blood? Sometimes. Broken? You hope not.

 

The tough guys “keep the peace”, usually by disturbing it. They protect, agitate, equalize and while the work isn’t glamourous, there can be glory for the victors: The stick taps of teammates and the raucous cheers and chants of the frenzied crowd.

 

Enforcers have played a storied role in the VHL. From Peter Payne, Da' Brickashaw O'Neal, and Noah Lefevre, to Edwin Encarnacion and Guntis Petenis, there have never been a shortage of muscled and colorful characters in this league. Going through all these players’ fascinating careers would take years to extrapolate and tabulate and I will leave that to better men than I. But, in the attempt to illuminate perhaps a slowly dying breed, I have selected the top 10 “goons” over the last five seasons (S66-70). They are loosely ranked and to be honest most of the rankings could be debated with fair cause.

 

To summarize what I was looking for, I felt that goons or tough guys are known for three main stats: penalty minutes, hits, and fights. Now there are many skilled players who have racked up plenty of these stats while also filling the scoresheet so I tried to give less status to those who may be considered power forwards, and there have been many fine examples of this type of player over this period including Beau Louth (@Beaviss), Sebastian Ironside, Leph Twinger (@DollarAndADream), and Randoms (@hedgehog337), to name a few. As this is a short time period and most players researched did not play all five seasons, I took special achievements into consideration as well as consistency over a few years. I also gave more weight to penalty minutes and fights and I developed multiple formulas and poured over the stats of over 75 players to finalize the list of 10.

 

First, though, I have compiled some up-and-coming young goons to watch out for and some honorable mentions. I hope you enjoy!

 

Ones To Watch (Out For!) 

If you’re on the ice against one of these young pugilists, you may want to think twice about looking down at that puck!

 

Gert B Frobe, D, S68-70 :PRA:, :usa: (@NumberJ5

Frobe burst onto the VHL scene in S68 (along with a few others on this list) posted the third highest PIM total in the league with 185 and was one of three players to top the VHL with 2 fights won. He was also among the leaders for hits. He has since slowed his wild ways slightly although he has never lost a fight yet with a record of three wins and seven draws.

 

Chad Magnum, C, S70 :tor:, Isle of Man (@Corco)

After being drafted 5th overall in the S70 VHL draft by Toronto, Chad Magnum set out to hit everything that moved as he led all rookies with 251 hits which was also 10th in the league and earned him a spot in on the All-VHL Rookie Team. With a physique as chiseled as the rocky cliffs of his home on the Isle of Man, he has only been in one scrap so as to not damage his ravishing looks. We think there is more truculence in his future, though.

 

Owen Nolan, RW, S68-70 :nya:, Ireland (@studentized)

The Irish-born Nolan has always prided himself on his hard-hitting style and even as his offensive game grows, so too does his physical play which makes him a perfect fit on the Americans, one of the toughest teams in the league. Last season he broke into the Top-10 in PIM and fights and has not lost in 12 bouts (four wins, eight draws). He may be the next big power forward to terrorize the VHL.

 

Hiroshi Okada, C, S69-70 :cal:, Japan (@enigmatic)

While his other stats don’t jump out at you, the young Japanese center has fought more than anyone else in his first two years. Okada led the league in fights (9) and fights won (4) in his rookie season and followed it up with eight more fights for a total of 17. He appears to have a gentle demeanor off the ice but his samurai spirit emerges once on it.

 

Honorable Mentions

These players were ranked fairly high in my list but didn’t quite make the cut.

 

Edward Vigneault, D, S67-70 :mos::PRA:, :can:  (@Patpou22)

Vigneault was a tough guy in the truest sense. A depth defenseman that was solid in his own end but didn’t contribute much on offense, he was very good at one thing: fighting. Of the four players in the last five seasons to fight 20 or more times, he is tied for the most wins (6) and incredibly only lost once in 21 tilts.

 

Condor Adrienne, D, S68-70 :mal:, Whitok (@OrbitingDeath)

The intrigue surrounding S68’s 1st overall pick was immense as the first Earthling raised in space to play in the VHL (and earn a S68 All-VHL Rookie Team selection). His skills have translated well to hockey and he has become one of the most feared defensemen in the game having been in the Top-10 in PIM and Hits each twice in his three seasons. Last year he won the Jake Wylde Trophy as the league’s best defensive defenseman. He was second in the league in PIM (205) and led all defensemen in hits (289).

 

MORPHEUS DESTRUCTIOUS, D, S67-70 :mal::tor:, Poland (@Abaddon)

For one season (S67), the brute MORPHEUS DESTRUCTIOUS ruled the VHL with a savage tyranny that will likely never be seen again. As a rookie he led the league in PIM and was among the leaders in hits and fights. For two more seasons, he brought pain and misery to opposing teams, but his act quickly lost its appeal and he withered away during S70.

 

 

Fighting in Hockey: Should It Be Allowed? – UNIV2000

 

The Top 10

 

10.

Lance Flowers, D, S68-70 :nya:, :gbr: (@CowboyinAmerica)

This hulking British import of Nigerian descent was taken 2nd overall in the S68 draft behind the previously mentioned, Condor Adrienne. Flowers has produced slightly better numbers than his Malmo counterpart which is why he ends up in the Top 10. In S68 he led the league in hits (294), was fourth among rookie scorers and was among the league leaders in PIM and shots blocked which culminated in Flowers winning the Christian Stolzschweiger and Jake Wilde Trophies (Top Rookie and Top Defensive Defenseman) and earn a spot on the All-VHL Rookie Team alongside Adrienne. He followed that up by leading the league in PIM the next season and continued to put up big PIM and hits numbers last season. He has yet to drop the gloves so far in this young career which hurt his standing on this list but he’s averaged over 268 hits a season so he can definitely bring the pain.

 

9.

Ryuu Crimson, LW, S66-68 :dav:, :can: (@SlapshotDragon)

Ryuu Crimson, the diminutive winger from Calgary, Alberta, chosen 9th overall in the S62 VHL draft was known for his scrappy nature. He broke into the league in S63 and won a championship and playoff MVP with Riga as a rookie, but for our purposes, we will focus on S66-68. He was involved in the 5th most fights (19) during this five year period despite only playing in three. He was the league’s best fighter in S66 leading with four wins in seven bouts and sparring to draws in the other three and not losing any. He was in the top 10 in fights all three years to make it five out of his six seasons.

 

8.

Joseph McWolf, D, S66-70 :nya::rig::mal:, :gbr: (@McWolf)

There is one word that comes to mind to describe Joseph McWolf’s career: Consistency. The 2nd overall pick in the S63 VHL proved from his first VHL game that coming from a non-traditional hockey market like England would not hinder his development. Over his eight year career with three teams, he was one of the most reliably excellent two-way defensemen in the game. He never posted less than 50 assists, 61 points, 122 PIM, 205 hits, 101 shot blocks while also being a power play threat. Most defensemen coming into the league would kill for a career season like that. McWolf produced that and more. Every. Single. Season. His trophy case is not as full as it should be but it still contains two Sterling Labatte trophies (Top Overall Defenseman) from S64 and S67 and an Alexander Valiq trophy (Top Offensive Defenseman) also in S67 when he led all VHL blueliners with 77 points. He was the runner-up for the Jake Wilde Trophy (Best Defensive Defenseman) this past year, his last in the league.

 

When he hung up his skates at the end of S70, he finished his career with 1243 PIM good for 12th among defensemen all-time. That stat alone is worth a place on this list but even more impressive is in the last five seasons, he has led the VHL with 859 PIM and was 2nd with 1201 hits. He continually provided dazzling offense with rock-solid defense and a nasty demeanor that has cemented him as one of the best in VHL history. The one reason he slipped in this ranking was his lack of fights – only one his entire career. But he ranked in the Top-10 in PIM four times and three times in hits from S66-70. Unfortunately for McWolf, the one accolade that eluded him over his storied career was a Continental Cup championship.

 

7.

Luc-Pierre Lespineau-Lebrunette, D, S66 :tor:, :can: (@FacePuncher)

LPLL was as stereotypical as they come. A bruising, tough-as-nails Canadian defenseman who would keep his zone clear and fight all comers. He would win back-back Continental Cups with Toronto in S64-65 and end his seven-year career as third among all defensemen in PIM (1566) and 9th in hits (1896) all-time. He only played one season, S66, his last, in this five year period but what a year it was. He spent the 25th-highest total in the sin bin in VHL history with 256 PIM (after he had already set the 9th best amount two years early with 294), which was second in the league that year, was third in hits with 293, and shared the league lead with eight fights, his third season in a row with that number of dust-ups. Overall, he was one of the toughest enforcers in VHL history and his last monster season puts him at #7.

 

6.

Hulk Hogan, D, S67-70 :sea:, :can: (@Hulk Hogan)

Hogan was an easy pick for Seattle at 5th overall in the S67 VHL Draft. The hulking defenseman had just won the Vladimir Boomchenko Trophy (Most Assists) and Ryan Sullivan Trophy (Top Defenseman) in his only season in the VHLM with Mississauga. Hogan started concentrating more on defense and increased his physical play once in the VHL and has become the leader on the back end for the thriving Bears. He has been among Seattle’s leaders in PIM and hits every season and helped the Bears claim back-back Continental Cups in S68 and S69. During his four years in the league, Hogan has led the league with 26 fights and had 13 alone in S67 the single-most tilts in one year since Guntis Petenis had 13 as well in S54.

 

5.

Mikka Pajari, C, S66-68 :mal:, :swi: (@Devise)

MIkka Pajari was a bit of a quandary during his seven-year VHL career with Riga and later with Malmo. The Swiss center’s flippant attitude was evident whether talking to a reporter or running someone into the boards. In spite of his behavioral issues, Pajari found himself winning quite a bit including a Founder’s Cup in S61 with the (then Oslo) Storm, a Continental Cup in S63 with Riga and fellow tough guy Ryuu Crimson and a silver medal in the S66 World Cup with Team World. After being traded to Malmo in S66, his belligerence spilled over as he was fourth in the league in PIM (198), second in hits (313) both career-highs and also got into five fights. He averaged 255 hits and over 161 PIM over his last three seasons which were 6th and 7th respectively during S66-70.

 

4.

Nethila Dissanayake, RW, S67-70, :nya::hel::tor:, Sri Lanka (@nethi99)

The 6’8” winger moved to Canada from Sri Lanka as a young boy and picked up the game of hockey. From these humble roots, he has carved out a solid career thus far in the VHL playing for three teams and using his large frame to his advantage. He isn’t afraid to throw his body around and almost seems to enjoy pummeling opponents as he has fought 25 times in the last four seasons the second most behind Hulk Hogan. He has also ranked in the top ten in fights and wins each of the last three seasons including leading the VHL with 10 fights last season.

 

3.

Rusty Shackleford, D, S67-70 :mal::tor:, :usa: (@K1NG LINUS)

Not only is Rusty Shackleford one of the VHL’s toughest customers, he sports the dirtiest moustache going and has one of the best hockey names in the league. The truculent Texan came into the league with a reputation as a throw-back: a rugged defensive defenseman who loves to hit and fight but who also had a great sense of humor and is the ultimate team guy. He started his career on the right foot by being named to the S67 All-VHL Rookie Team. Since then he has demolished intruders who come into his zone with thunderous checks, sneaky slashes, had his share of fights and been an all-around pain in the butt to play against. He shared the lead in PIM and led the league in fights in S68 and led in fights again in S69. He has been among the PIM leaders two other times and the hits leaders once. The legend of Rusty Shackleford has a lot more room to grow as he leads a young Toronto team to their potential.

 

2.

Phil Marleau, C, S67-70 :mal:, :gbr: (@Phil)

Marleau is a monster center who was selected 3rd overall in S67 by the Malmo Nighthawks. Seen as a tantalizing blend of speed, skill and immense power, the British behemoth (by way of the Virgin Islands) has given opponents more power than they can handle every single night. In his rookie season, Malmo was already home to three of the toughest goons in the league, Shackleford, Pajari, and DESTRUCTIOUS. Marleau not only out-scored them, he also out-hit them, and the entire league, with 343 hits the highest single-season total during the last five years. His 1065 hits are also the third highest in the last five years. He has been among the league leaders in PIM three times and hits three times as well as dropping the gloves 15 times during his career. He came close to the Continental Cup in S68 but the Nighthawks were swept by the Seattle Bears. Now he is on a mission to return to the Finals - even if he has to hit the entire league to get there.

 

1.

Evgeni Komarov, D, S66-68, :mos:, :rus: (@Gooningitup)

Here we are at the #1 tough guy in S66-70: diminutive Russian defenseman, Evgeni Komarov. How does a 5’6” blueliner become one of the top goons in the league over just a four-year career? By leading the VHL in PIM in two of those years, and be second and eighth in PIM in the other two. And in one of those seasons, rack up the 5th highest PIM total in league history (310 in S66). He also answered the bell 19 times, most of the time fighting with players much bigger than himself. Komarov was a polarizing figure on the ice and beloved by his teammates in the locker room. He looked to be a menace every time he played and his hometown fans in Moscow loved him for it. Unfortunately for his fans, he was traded after S68 to the D.C. Dragons in a salary cap dump and imminently retired instead of making the move to North America. Even though his career was as short as the man himself, Evgeni Komarov's impact on the VHL will never be forgotten.

Edited by animal74

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This is good shit. Always a place for a good goon in the VHL and perhaps one day O'Neal's PIM record will finally fall.

 

Also L-P L-L is an interesting case study for anyone who thinks undisciplined players hurt their teams. A bit of a liability in the regular season, but 3 finals appearances and 2 cups in a relatively short career.

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3 hours ago, Hulk Hogan said:

Hogan at 6 is a disgrace, I assume you didnt look at playoff stats which wouldve put me as the only player with over 30 fights brother 

 

@Hulk Hogan You are correct, I didn't take playoffs into account which is something I should have made more clear. The rankings are very, very close so you producing more offense than others and not having quite as high PIM and hits did probably drop you a bit.

Edited by animal74

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2 hours ago, animal74 said:

 

@Hulk Hogan You are correct, I didn't take playoffs into account which is something I should have made more clear. The rankings are very, very close so you producing more offense than others and not having quite as high PIM and hits did probably drop you a bit.

Do this when my next player retires and he'll be number 1 I promise.

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Love this. Though you didn't go far back enough to include XXX.

 

Good formatting, usage of colors/graphics/tags. Good research was used throughout. Don't really have anything to add. Pretty much as good as it gets for a MS.

 

10/10

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