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Strange:
The Canucks averaged over 27 minutes in penalties per game in 1992-93.

Random Acts of Violence

This article was written several years ago. Although the historical information remains accurate, there have been recent developments that are not included here.

Most Canuck fans will long remember the incident involving Marty McSorley and Donald Brashear. It inspired outrage, criminal charges, and comments about it being the worst incident ever witnessed at a Canuck game. In case you have been living in a (penalty?) box, Bruin McSorley skated up from behind Donald Brashear and slashed him on the side of the head with his stick. Brashear was dazed by the blow and fell backwards hitting his head on the ice and suffering a very serious concussion. Brashear remained out of the lineup for well over a month, while McSorley was suspended until the rest of the season (and then some).

The incident was played over and over on television, which had an excellent view of the whole event. Fans at the game and at home started flooding 911 with calls that they had just witnessed an assault and wanted to press charges. Everyone believed that it was the worst thing ever seen at a hockey game -- they were wrong. Here, now, is a collection of some of the random acts of violence that I have witnessed (or read about).


Wayne Maki and Ted Green
Okay, so he wasn't a Canuck at the time. Wayne Maki was in the St. Louis organization at the time of the famous incident during a pre-season game in September 1969. Both Maki and Green were feisty players in an era when almost all players were helmetless and fights were common. At one point, the two players squared off and neither dropped their stick. Instead they started swinging at each other until Maki hit Green across the head and Green crumpled to the ice. Green missed the entire 1969-70 season and although he did return to the NHL in 1970-71, he was never quite the same player.

One of the reasons that the Canucks obtained Maki was a result of this incident. When Maki played the Bruins later in the 1969-70 season, every player on the Boston team made it their number one priority to punish Maki. Time after time, he was knocked down, elbowed, sandwiched and shoved. Each time, he picked himself up and carried on. When Canuck scouts saw this pride and determination, they decided that Maki would be a welcome addition to their expansion team. Maki was scooped up by the Canucks in June 1970 and played two and a half seasons with the Canucks.

When Maki suffered a brain tumor (which ended his hockey career and, later, his life), there was some speculation that his stick fight with Green (Maki did get hit more than once) may have been the cause.

The Broad Street Bullies
In the early 1970's, the expansion Philadelphia Flyers were building a team which would eventually pound its way to the Stanley Cup Championship. On December 29, 1972, the Flyers visited Vancouver for a game against the Canucks. During the game, a fight broke out (which was not uncommon when the two teams met). With one of the Flyers pinning a Canuck along the boards at the Flyer bench, a fan reached over and grabbed the Flyer player. The rest of the bench erupted and started wading into the stands to take on all comers. There are those who believe that this battle brought the Flyers together and helped propel them to their Stanley Cup Championship the following season (similar to the Canuck melee with Quebec fans in 1982).

Tiger Williams on Scotty Bowman
In the 1980 playoffs, the Canucks met up with the Buffalo Sabres in a best-of-five affair. After losing the first two games in Buffalo, the Canucks returned to the friendly confines of the Pacific Coliseum. The Canucks were well on their way to an upset victory in game three when Sabre coach Scotty Bowman was once again chirping at the referee. Suddenly, he was flat on his back. None of the officials saw what happened, but Tiger Williams was in the vicinity. Prior to game four, Williams was suspended by the league for allegedly hitting Bowman with his hockey stick. Because Bowman has a metal plate in his head (I'm not making this up), the blow could have been fatal. To this day, Williams will not admit that he actually hit Bowman.

Mark Messier
Messier was famous for using his elbows to inflict damage, but two incidents stand out in my mind involving Mark Messier and his stickwork as an Edmonton Oiler. Messier managed to put both Thomas Gradin and Rich Sutter in the hospital. In the first incident, he whacked Gradin on the top of his head with a two-handed slash. Comments at the time indicated that Gradin might have been killed if not for his helmet. Because Gradin was only slightly injured, no suspension was levied against Messier. In another game, Rich Sutter was coming into the Oiler zone and cutting across the middle of the ice. Messier skated by with his stick at head level and clotheslined Sutter. Needless to say, Sutter lost several teeth and the team dentist even noted that he had to remove hockey tape which was embedded in Sutter's mouth. And the penalty Messier received for his crime? Nothing (this was in the days before automatic penalties for drawing blood, and of course it was an "accident").

Craig Berube on Rich Sutter
During a Flyer visit to Vancouver in January 1989, Canuck fans witnessed one of the scariest scenes imaginable. With the game tied at three in the second period, Rich Sutter was chasing a puck into the Flyer zone at full speed. Flyer Craig Berube was chasing him and as Sutter neared the boards, Berube cross checked him in the back. Sutter flew into the boards head first with a sickening thud that could be heard in the upper confines of the Coliseum. He lay motionless for several seconds and fans feared the worst. He was taken off on a stretcher, but suffered only a minor back strain (those Sutter boys are tough). The rest of the game was very emotional and the Canucks scored twice in the third period to win.

Referee gets in the way
I wish I could remember exactly which game this took place in and who was involved. Two players were battling for the puck and one was holding the other's stick with his arm. The player whose stick was being held tugged the stick with all his might until it gave way. Unfortunately, the force of his pulling swung the stick around behind him and struck the referee who was standing in the corner. The blow knocked him down and he had to be carried off the ice. After the game his helmet was shown on television -- complete with the crack that had been caused be the stick. If he hadn't been wearing a helmet, the injury could have been life threatening.

Dennis Potvin Hip Checks
New York Islander Dennis Potvin was a master at the hip-check -- a perfectly legal, but extremely dangerous, check. He managed to injure several Canucks, including Bill Derlago, Taylor Hall, Cam Neely and Stan Smyl. In November 1978, rookie Bill Derlago had returned from the minors and was playing some inspired hockey. Potvin caught Derlago and Derlago suffered torn knee ligaments and missed the rest of the season. In October 1984, Potvin hip-checked Cam Neely, inflicting a dislocated kneecap on the promising sophomore. In the same game, Potvin sent Taylor Hall to the sidelines for the rest of the season.

Adam Graves on Trevor Linden
After falling behind three games to one in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks had rallied to tie the series at three games apiece. Late in game six, with defeat imminent, Ranger Adam Graves tried to knock the Canucks' leader out of the playoffs. With Linden cruising in the neutral zone, Graves swooped in and blindsided Linden in the temple with the butt-end of his hockey stick. The intent to injure was obvious. Linden fell to his knees and started crawling to the bench, bleeding from the cut. Mark Messier, not wanting to miss out on the fun, skated by and pushed Linden the rest of the way to the ice. Graves did not receive a penalty or suspension (probably because there was no good video of the attack). Linden, black eye and all, scored twice in game seven.

Gino Odjick on... everybody
No Canuck has ever enjoyed a good scrap like Gino Odjick. Odjick was suspended on several occasions for his antics. He once received a double-major for spearing (a penalty so long it wouldn't fit on the timeclock). He once chased Glen Anderson around the ice while doing the NHL version of a striptease. Odjick routinely knocked players out with a single punch. He was a fan favourite in Vancouver, but despised around the league.

Content copyright 2001-2010 David Marchak
This page last updated July 27, 2010