For as long as hockey has been around, there have been players who’ve locked spots on teams based on their physical ability to drop the gloves when necessary. Of course, some despise the goons whereas others admired their efforts for taking one for the team. Heck, they even drop the gloves to get momentum going for their team if they’re down by a goal.
Not only that, they also protect their teammates, especially the superstars. From Clark Gillies to Tiger Williams, there have been notable goons in the NHL, and with that, here are the biggest goons in history. By the way, they should definitely have their own Hall of Fame.
Chris Nilan quickly earned the nickname “Knuckles” for his on-ice tendency to drop the gloves against his opponents. He was even selected to the 1991 All-Star Game, a rarity for any goon in the NHL. If it wasn’t for his nagging injuries, “Knuckles” would have been atop the leaderboard for most penalty minutes by any player.
The Big Bad Bruin
When it came to tough guys who could handle the fisticuffs and be an on-ice commodity when needed, Terry O’Reilly was the guy. He was a force to be reckoned with on the ice, much like the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes. His most notable moment was the night O’Reilly and his teammates invaded the stands at Madison Square Garden.
Unlike his counterparts on this list, Georges Laraque had some moments when he put points on the board, despite his reputation as a fight-only type player. Laraque had plenty of playoff experience, reaching the Stanley Cup Final with the Oilers and the Penguins. He was actually traded to Pittsburgh to protect the team’s young superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
The Protector Of The Great One
The Oilers were a dynasty in the eighties, but Marty McSorley inherited the title of Wayne Gretzky’s bodyguard. His enforcing efforts helped Edmonton win two more Stanley Cups before Gretzky was traded. McSorley was considered one of the most versatile enforcers to ever play hockey, although his worst moment came when he attacked another goon on this list, which resulted in a lengthy suspension.