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HomeNHLThe Enforcers of Ice: A Look at the NHL's Most Penalized Seasons

The Enforcers of Ice: A Look at the NHL’s Most Penalized Seasons

Hockey is a sport where skill, speed, and finesse are celebrated, but it’s also a game where toughness and grit have their own storied place. Some players are known for their ability to score goals, while others are remembered for their willingness to drop the gloves. This list pays homage to the latter, ranking the NHL players who have spent the most time in the sin bin during a single season.

1. Dave Schultz – The “Hammer” of Philadelphia (1974-75, PHI – 472 PIM) Topping the list is none other than Dave Schultz, known as “The Hammer” during the heyday of the Philadelphia Flyers’ “Broad Street Bullies.” In the 1974-75 season, Schultz set a record that still stands, racking up an astonishing 472 penalty minutes. His intimidating presence on the ice was a cornerstone of the Flyers’ identity and played a crucial role in their Stanley Cup victory that year.

2. Paul Baxter – The Protector of the Penguins (1981-82, PIT – 409 PIM) Paul Baxter comes in at a distant second, with 409 penalty minutes during the 1981-82 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Baxter’s reputation as an enforcer was solidified during this campaign, as he frequently took on the role of protecting his teammates, at the cost of spending a significant amount of time in the penalty box.

3. Mike Peluso – Chicago’s Pugilist (1991-92, CHI – 408 PIM) Just one minute shy of Baxter’s mark, Mike Peluso amassed 408 penalty minutes with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1991-92 season. Peluso’s fearsome style of play made him one of the most daunting enforcers of his time and a key physical component for the Blackhawks.

4. Dave Schultz – The Enforcer’s Encore (1977-78, LAK/PIT – 405 PIM) Dave Schultz appears again, this time in the 1977-78 season, split between the Los Angeles Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Schultz proved that his record-setting season was no fluke, racking up another 405 penalty minutes and maintaining his reputation as one of the most feared men on ice.

5. Marty McSorley – The King’s Guardian (1992-93, LAK – 399 PIM) Marty McSorley, known for his tough style of play, accumulated 399 penalty minutes with the Los Angeles Kings in the 1992-93 season. His role as Wayne Gretzky‘s bodyguard often put him in the heat of battle, leading to his high tally of penalty minutes.

6. Bob Probert – Detroit’s Fist (1987-88, DET – 398 PIM) Just one minute behind McSorley, Bob Probert of the Detroit Red Wings sits with 398 penalty minutes in the 1987-88 season. Probert was both an enforcer and a capable player, known for his fights as well as his scoring ability, making him one of the most unique figures to ever take the ice.

7. Basil McRae – Minnesota’s Scrapper (1987-88, MNS – 382 PIM) Basil McRae of the Minnesota North Stars was not far behind Probert in the same season, accumulating 382 penalty minutes. McRae’s gritty play style was a defining feature of his career, often landing him in the penalty box for standing up for his teammates.

8. Joe Kocur – The Bruiser of Detroit (1985-86, DET – 377 PIM) Joe Kocur, another member of the Detroit Red Wings, renowned for his fighting skills, registered 377 penalty minutes in the 1985-86 season. Kocur’s punches were legendary, and he was a key component of the Red Wings’ physical play during that era.

9. Tim Hunter – Calgary’s Enforcer (1988-89, CGY – 375 PIM) Tim Hunter of the Calgary Flames marked the 1988-89 season with 375 penalty minutes. Known for his role as an enforcer, Hunter’s imposing presence on the ice contributed to the Flames’ intimidation factor.

10. Donald Brashear – Vancouver’s Vigilante (1997-98, VAN – 372 PIM) Rounding out the top ten is Donald Brashear with 372 penalty minutes while playing for the Vancouver Canucks in the 1997-98 season. Brashear was a feared fighter who also had the ability to contribute offensively, making him a valuable tough guy in the NHL.

These players represent an era of hockey when the enforcer was a crucial part of a team’s roster. While the game has evolved, with less emphasis on fighting and more on speed and skill, the legacy of these tough guys lives on in the annals of NHL history. Each of these players has left an indelible mark on the game, not just for the minutes they spent in the box, but for the way they stood up for their teammates and defined the role of the enforcer in hockey culture.

Listicled Staff
Listicled Staff
Listicled staff covers everything from sports to entertainment, politics to parenting, and everything in-between.

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