fighting hockey

Paul's Favorite Penguins Pugilists

9:14:00 AMPaul Clemente

Ever since the 1991 Stanley Cup victory I fell in love with the Pittsburgh Penguins. I remember the exact night like a bad beginning to a romance novel.

My grandparents on my mom's side took me to see the Pirates for my birthday. I was still amped with my new Orioles hat (which I still have) and I was completely unaware of the Penguins, hockey, or even the fact that we were in the Finals. Our parents always thought ALL sports were stupid; therefor banned from the house.

We were stick in traffic leaving the Pirate game due to the Penguins game letting out the same time, people were so happy. It wasn't the type of manic rioting you see in Montreal, but genuine happiness. My grandpa rolled down the windows in the car, and let in the noxious monoxide filled night air, and honked victoriously. I asked what happened, and he replied "Our boys did it."

I asked genuinely, "Did what?"

My Grandpa smiled at me like only he could with compassion, and said"We won Stanley's Cup!"

I replied like a true 11 year old, "Does that mean we are the best?"

My Grandpa laughed and told me,"Yes, it does."

I felt so much pride, and a sense of communal joy that night I was a fan ever since. From that day on I have followed almost every single game from then on.

I think as Penguins fans we have been so spoiled with the level of talent that has come to play for our city, and we have all been apart of historical moment after historical moment, but there was always one thing I absolutely loved about hockey; the fighting. I used to check the Sunday paper and read the stat lines like a bible, to see who I would think would fight eachother for the weeks line up of games. I used to circle the top PIM guys and predict who would come out on top.

This is a list of my favorite, and maybe the best fighters the Penguins have ever had dress in the black and gold. There are some that have had a short but memorable stay with the Penguins, and I thought I would include them anyways.


Rich Tocchet 

With such a short stay it Pittsburgh, it was 2 1/2 years, but he carried the Cup for us twice in 91 and 92. He was a bad ass with 48 goals in the 92-93 season, and 252 PIMs. He had 15 fights with the Pens where him and Brad May could not keep from attacking each other every time they saw each other. Tocchet was so strong, and was one of my favorite power forwards of all time (even though most of his damage was in Philly), when he was on the ice he commanded attention, and seemed to do whatever he wanted. He wasn't a typical "goon" since he had a scoring touch, and was devastating in front of the net on the power play, but when he fought he was an animal.


 Marty McSorley 

Primarily known as Wayne Gretzky's bodyguard when he was with the Oilers, and Kings. He had such a reputation already when he was traded to the Penguins, I was actually very excited to see him in a Penguins uniform. Say what you want about the Brashear incident, McSorley was not a goon, but a true heavyweight. He didn't look for fights, but if anyone stepped out of line, he was there to answer the call. He had 32 fights with his short stay with the Penguins, but they were important and memorable. I still remember doing whatever chores were asked of me that day in record time, to hopefully see McSorley fight the "champ" Bob Probert during a match up later that day. Man, did they deliver ...

 

Francois Leroux 

Leroux was and is still my favorite Penguins pugilist. He was like a superhero to me. He was huge at 6'8" and I still claim I have never seen him get knocked off his feet. He was slow, and his hands were as soft as a cinder block, but that man was tough. With 31 fights I can recall almost all of them. After he left Pittsburgh I sadly followed his career into oblivion, but I still envy the man's short but violent career with the Penguins. Who can forget this epic fight? At the time Twist was considered one of the most dangerous men on the ice, and the crowd was already amped with Mario scoring 4 goals in that game already.



Deryk Engelland

How can you not like a guy like Engelland, who took the long, long road to the NHL going through the WHL, ECHL, and AHL before earning (and I mean earning) a spot with the Penguins. Engelland only had his first "full" season with the Penguins this year, but he was known in the minors for being one of the smartest fighters, and hardest punchers around. TSN.ca called him the best fighter in the NHL by far. Not only does he fight well, last year most people didn't know it. It was fun to have some of the biggest heavyweights in the NHL took him on not knowing what to expect.  He left quite a path of destruction with his 16 fighting majors this season scoring two knockouts, and quite a few bloody faces behind.  Here is one of my most favorite fights, and the one who put him on the map so to speak.


Chris Tamer

Tamer is the proud owner of 54 fighting majors in Pittsburgh, but what is the most remarkable is that he was a defenceman. A d-man that can fight competently is such a rarity in the NHL anymore it was special to have such a player on the team. Tamer was not the biggest, or most aggressive player, but he stood up for his team mates. He didn't really answer the heavyweight bouts as often as some other players, but he would take on all comers. I remember Tamer being a pretty classy player with his time with the Pens, and his career was never really the same after he left.




Jay Caufield

Jay played a majority of his short career in Pittsburgh with 43 fights under his belt for the Pens. He ... well ... wasn't a great hockey player at all. He actually got booted to the now defunct IHL after his tenure in the black and gold. He is most notably known as Mario's boy helping him make his comeback, and injury recoveries more than once. In the early 90's he followed suit with being Mario's on ice bodyguard. He would be the guy who would take on the marquee fighters, and hold his own. When Jay was on the ice, you knew why he was there, and someone was gonna pay.





Kevin Stevens 

What can you say about "Artie" that hasn't already been said. I think the best and most accurate description is a "poor man's Cam Neely" which by no means diminishes his skill, but Cam Neely is so bad ass no one else can ever be like him. With only a surprising 22 fights with the Pens in 10 seasons Steven's was another one of my favorite all time power forwards. He played with Mario quite a bit patrolling the ice for ill behavior and tipping in Mario's sweet magic. In the early 90's he was a 50 goal threat who would drop the gloves, and when he fought he was vicious. This next clip should have been a fight, but I think this is a ton funnier.



Matt Barnaby

Not too many people outside of Pittsburgh remember Barnaby's stint with the Pens. With an impressive 30 fights with a solid 2 seasons and change with Pittsburgh Barnaby left an impression wherever he went. He was an agitator who dropped the gloves early and often. Most people saw hsi showboating after the fights classless, but those people were usually on the other team. He was the type of player you love to have his huge teethy smile on your bench, and absolutely hate when he's playing against you. Although I do recognize his mostly as a Sabre, his short stay in Pittsburgh was a memorable one. This video is so white trash 90's, but it has some great highlights of Matt's stay in the Burgh.



Eric Godard 

Godsy is the Penguins current heavyweight, his contract expires this July and I'm not sure where he is going to end up next season, but I know I will miss him if he goes. With 36 fighting majors Godard is definitely respected and feared amongst the league. When the Pens need to settle down the game, or they want to pull the plug on bullshit they call on the "Hand of Godard" to do the job. When he is fired up, he is one of the fiercest fighters I have ever seen. Unfortunately, most of the time he is a casualty of a deep team, with tons of talent so he sits in the press box, but when he is called upon he is an amazing team player, and all around solid human off the ice. He deserves two highlights. The first one was easily the fight of the year with Cote. The second is Godsy coming off the bench to protect his goalie from being attacked against Islanders felony Haley.



Troy Loney

Another Cup winning Penguin Loney had 62 in his 9ish seasons with Pittsburgh. A career 4th liner who's job was obvious for the team. He was the rare breed of player who really wasn't a good fighter, but he was more than willing. He lost alot of fights ... bad. There was something almost comical, but admirable about his willingness to fight for his teammates, you almost can't help but respect the guy. Here is Loney doing what he does best; standing up for his team.

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