No need for the preamble, you seem to understand what’s going on…
Stan Smyl - Back in the days when nicknames actually meant something (we’re sorry but “Kes” and “Bur” and “Hank” and “Lou” score zero on the creativity scale), “Steamer” was aptly named. Smyl was the heart and soul of a gritty, but typically crappy team. A borderline midget by NHL standards, “Steamer” left no check unfinished. Ever. We are quite certain he was the last player to lead his team in goals, assists, points AND penalty minutes in the same season. When it came to scrapping, Smyl was cagey enough to get in close and stay there. There’s a reason his number hangs from the rafters and it’s got nothing to do with skill. So says Mike Vernon’s glove hand.
This little clip shows Steamer coming in to defend a fallen teammate instigating a scrap with a tough defenseman 5 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier:
Jack McIlhargey - We’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jack Mac on a number of occasions and like most tough guys, he’s a complete gentlemen off the ice. Not a particularly big man for an NHL heavyweight, on the ice he was a crazy swash-buckling defensemen. Like many of the esteemed Canuck tough guys, he played on horrendous teams that could have been intimidated easily most nights, particularly with, as we were told, many of the wives being tougher than their hockey playing husbands. With McIlhargey and his fast hands around, liberties were kept to a minimum.
Here’s a quick one with Jack in his days in Vancouver taking care of legendary crazy tough guy “One Nut” Nick Fotiu:
Today’s Honourable Mention goes to:
Jiri Bubla - As one of the first Communist block players in the NHL, he was not your typical tough guy. He was a devastating hip checker and incredibly strong. If you dared engage him in a fight, he’d have you thrown to the ice in seconds - his body slams became reknowned at the old Pacific Coliseum. The ultimate measure of his toughness was the four years he spent in an Austrian jail for smuggling heroin. Sadly, we’ve been unable to unearth any footage of Bubla’s many misdemeanours.