Who were the best tough guys in Bruins history? Beyond the Top 10
Since there were so many worthy candidates and so much argument about the original Top 10 list of Bruins tough guys, we had to continue the list with another 10 names to make the Top 20 enforcers and fighters in team history. In all honesty, there some genuinely tough dudes on the Bruins list of pugilists who didn’t even make the Top 20, whether it was Teddy Green, Glen Featherstone, Fern Flaman, Forbes Kennedy, Sandy McCarthy, Kevan Miller or Bruce Shoebottom.
But they didn’t quite crack the Top 20 where there are tough customers everywhere and more examples of why the Bruins are still known as the Big Bad Bruins everywhere they go. Thanks to www.hockeyfights.com for being an invaluable resource when it comes to researching the ways of old -ime hockey.
With that in mind, here are the next 10 members of the Bruins fight club by popular demand.
11. John Wensink
The 6-foot, 200-pound Wensink played four seasons with the Bruins and didn’t fight that often with just 24 fights spread over those four years. But it wasn’t for lack of willingness. Instead, Wensink was such a ferocious guy that it was sometimes difficult for him to find a dance partner.
He could play too, as evidenced by his 28 goals and 46 points in the 1978-79 season for the Lunchpail AC crew. The teaming of Terry O’Reilly, Stan Jonathan, Mike Milbury and Wensink together in the mid-to-late 1970s made the Bruins one of the toughest crews to ever set foot on NHL ice. Wensink fought 10 times for the Bruins in the 1977-78 season for the Black and Gold, and had the one infamous brawl with the Minnesota North Stars where he challenged the entire Minny bench after beating the tar out of Alex Pirus on the ice.
This is the epitome of Big Bad Bruins intimidation on the ice.
12. Eddie Shore
There is little evidence statistically of how tough Eddie Shore was, but there’s no doubt he was one of the toughest Bruins to ever lace the skates. All you need to know is that the Hansen Brothers referred to it as Eddie Shore “Old Time Hockey” in Slapshot before going out and pounding the bejesus out of their poor opponents. There really isn’t video of Shore doing his thing for the Bruins back in the old days, but there are news clippings like this one that document Shore getting five fighting penalties in one game along with a concussion, a broken nose and four teeth knocked out.
That’s just insane, especially for a Hockey Hall of Famer, but it’s also part of the larger-than-life legend for Shore that’s tough to compare to rough-and-tumble Bruins players where we have the video and the evidence. Shore would have easily been in the Top 10 just for the five-fight game alone if we had any idea how many hockey fights he’d actually engaged in.
13. Adam McQuaid
I still remember when Adam McQuaid first broke into the NHL and in the span of about a week, three or four guys challenged the tall, gangly McQuaid to fights while thinking he would be a rookie pushover. Big mistakes. Darth Quaider was a nice, quiet guy off the ice, but on it he was a tough, punishing defenseman who could destroy opponents with his long reach and powerful punching ability. He had a difficult time staying healthy because he played the game so hard, but he was the ultimate teammate who would stand up for everybody else in the same uniform.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound McQuaid finished with 55 fights for the Bruins over the course of his 462 games played with the B’s and will forever be a key part of the 2011 Stanley Cup team. Matt Martin was one of the toughest guys around in the NHL a few years back and McQuaid laid an absolute beating on him that left Martin leaking blood all over the ice when it was all over.
14. Nevin Markwart
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Markwart was far from the biggest guy on his Bruins teams, but he managed to ring up 57 bouts over the course of his career with the Black and Gold. The bruising left winger and first round pick played 299 games for the Bruins over the course of his career and actually had his best season as a 19-year-old rookie when he posted 14 goals and 30 points in 70 games.
But he also rang in back-to-back 200 PIM seasons for the Bruins from 1985-87 while taking on many challengers for some extremely tough Bruins teams. In this bout Markwart and future NHL general manager George McPhee went rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots on the Boston Garden ice during a particularly nasty fight. He was a light heavyweight, but that never stopped Markwart from stepping up to the plate when needed.
15. Ken Belanger
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Belanger wasn’t with the Bruins for a long period of time, but the notoriously tough customer dropped the gloves 20 times over the course of three seasons in Boston. He fought some of the toughest guys in the history of the NHL including Tie Domi, Bob Probert and Craig Berube and was a true tough guy with no more than two goals or five points in any of the seasons he played for the Bruins.
This was one of the worst hockey fight losses that the notoriously tough Probert suffered in his NHL career with Belanger throwing right-handed and left-handed punches before taking him down to the ice. Anytime a player goes toe-to-toe with Probert, that’s the definition of an NHL heavyweight during the era when they all played in the NHL.
16. Zdeno Chara
The future Hall of Fame defenseman is obviously the most fearsome player of his generation and because of that nobody wanted to mess with the 6-foot-9, 250-pounder who broke into the league when fighting was still very prevalent. Chara was also one of his team’s most important players so he picked his spots when he decided to drop the gloves as attested by his 30 fights in 14 seasons with the Black and Gold.
Chara never fought more than four times in any of his NHL seasons, but his long reach, unmatched strength and sheer size along with his technique made him almost impossible to beat in a fight. Some of it goes back to his legendary training sessions growing up with his Olympic wrestling coach father and some of was just that Chara was the biggest, baddest guy on the block when the moment called for it.
In this fight from 2007-08, David Koci tugged on Chara’s cap and he immediately regretted it.
17. Keith Crowder
Did you know that the only Bruins players who dropped the gloves more than Crowder were Terry O’Reilly, Shawn Thornton and Jay Miller? That is some pretty rare company in terms of Black and Gold toughness and Crowder was one of the best players on every Bruins team he played on to go along with his willingness to mix it up.
Crowder finished with 84 fights over the course of his 600-plus games in Boston. Crowder also put up 219 goals and 477 points in a tough, tough NHL era, so there’s no doubt the 6-foot, 183-pound winger had to defend himself on plenty of occasions given his status as a player. He also finished with over 1,200 penalty minutes in his career as a Bruin, which points to an edge to his game.
While not the most dominant fight Crowder ever engaged in, this line brawl with the Bruins and the Canadiens featured him in a five-minute tussle with Mike McPhee that spanned both ends of the ice somehow. That’s some Bruins/Habs hockey!
18. Brent Hughes
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Saskatchewan native fought 27 times over the course of his four seasons with the Bruins and was a staple of some tough B’s teams from 1991-1995. Hughes put up his best NHL season in 1993-94 when he finished with 13 goals and 24 points in 77 games, and he dropped the gloves a career-high 10 times that season in Boston as well.
He tangled with tough guys like former Bruins Jeff Odgers, Rob Ramage and Matthew Barnaby and packed a powerful punch for his size. Here Hughes drops the gloves with New Jersey Devils Randy MacKay after Hughes had run Chris Terreri behind his net and caused a brawl in front of the New Jersey net earlier in the game.
Certainly, it doesn’t look like Hughes ran away from trouble too much in his Black and Gold days.
19. Andrei Nazarov
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Nazarov was a fearsome-looking guy on the ice and the Russian winger didn’t hesitate to engage in the rough stuff given his 48 fights over the course of his career with the Black and Gold. Amazingly, Nazarov only played 110 games over the course of his two-year career in Boston and that means he fought 31 times in the 2001-02 NHL season when he was with the B’s.
And they weren’t lightweight fights either against noted tough, dangerous NHL guys like Matthew Barnaby, Georges Laraque and Kryzsztof Oliwa among others. Here’s Nazarov as a member of the Bruins tangling with a young Zdeno Chara when he was a member of the Ottawa Senators and getting a few shots in against Chara before the 6-foot-9 defenseman threw him down to the ice like a doll.
20. Chris Nilan
It’s impossible to put the notoriously tough Knuckles any higher on this list because he’s actually the most popular opponent for Bruins players in hockey fights (24) since the records were kept at hockeyfights.com, but Nilan dropped the gloves plenty during his years in Boston at the end of his NHL career. The Boston-born Nilan dropped the gloves 22 times for the Black and Gold as compared to the 174 fights during his time with the Habs, but only played 80 games in less than two full seasons in Boston.
In his one full year with the Bruins in 1990-91, Nilan finished with a whopping 277 penalty minutes and fought 19 times. Wherever he went, Knuckles always lived up to his brawling nickname. Come for this Nilan/Stu Grimson fight and stay for Mike Keenan attempting a brawl with the Boston Garden timekeeper at the end of a controversial Bruins/Blackhawks game.