1985-86: The Genesis Of Truculence
September 28, 2013 3:00 PM   Subscribe

This is one example of a phenomenon I noticed throughout this chart: natural rival franchises tend to have similar numbers of goon seasons. This would suggest that goon employment may be (in some instances) localized arms races between rivals, whose cyclical number of goons tends to reflect the other’s in some perverted game of Mutually Assured Terrible Hockey (MATH)... We also have a team like Detroit near the bottom of the list, with only 8.5 goon seasons in their history. Since 1985-86, the Wings have only had 4.5 goon seasons. They’ve only had 2 goon seasons since 1988-89. Coincidentally, they’ve been pretty damned swell at winning hockey games since that time. The Evolution of Goon Culture in the NHL
posted by mannequito (23 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I only scanned this but as a Sabres fan, it's hard for me to believe that Buffalo is the third gooniest team in the league. Maybe I'm reading it wrong?

Also, this just made me think, goonies never say die.
posted by kat518 at 3:43 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just in time for the post-Kessel stick-slashing of known Goon John Scott, and known Goon (although he's more pesty than goony) Rinaldo's elbow to a head!

And the new no-removing helmets before a fight rule isn't going to dissuade your average goon.

Successful teams don't dress many goons. Unsuccessful teams dress a lot of them. There's only 23 spots on a NHL team, and the more goons you have, the less skilled players you're going to have.
posted by lineofsight at 4:37 PM on September 28, 2013

it's hard for me to believe that Buffalo is the third gooniest team in the league

Last weeks preseason donnybrook between the Sabres and the Leafs sure had the look of a thuggy ritual.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:37 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Goon hockey did produce Slapshot, perhaps the greatest movie ever made.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:55 PM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also Goon, a significantly less good movie that managed to be somewhat entertaining
posted by Hoopo at 5:13 PM on September 28, 2013

Is this where the thread devolves into Slap Shot quotes? Yes? Great!


I have been waiting for this day for so long.
posted by cmyk at 5:56 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Two minutes, by yourself, you know and you feel shame, you know.
posted by mannequito at 6:40 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Then you get free.
posted by cmyk at 6:55 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got my eye on the three of you. You pull one thing, you're out of this game. I run a clean game here. I have any trouble here, I'll suspend ya.

I'm listening to the fucking song!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:59 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Owns! OWNS!

I fully support this devolvement.

Slapshot is sans doute among the greatest films ever made. it is not possible for it to have been better made. literally nonpareil. genius. my only problem with it, is that it's also depressing as shit. which is also part of the genius, but still makes me feel pretty beat up whenever I watch it.

Goon is less than perfect, and yet an excellent offspring of Slapshot. I was prepared to hate it, but after several viewings it really grows and it's pretty amazing how quite a lot of the artistry of the original was, not so much captured or re-created, but sort of portrayed very differently and somehow still recognizable.
posted by dorian at 7:40 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nancy Dowd also wrote Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains which, if you think about it, is a lot like Slap Shot.

I also enjoyed Goon quite a bit.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:59 PM on September 28, 2013

Hi. You know Toe Blake? No?
posted by KingEdRa at 8:06 PM on September 28, 2013

This is all well and good but what else can a farm boy from Canada do?
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 8:56 PM on September 28, 2013

Fuckin' machine took my quarter.

posted by cmyk at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2013

They brought their fuckin toys with em!
posted by Existential Dread at 11:25 PM on September 28, 2013

it's hard for me to believe that Buffalo is the third gooniest team in the league

Can I ask why? Buffalo has an entire line worth of goons and pests that actually play regularly. Cody McCormick, John Scott, Patrick Kaleta, and loveable shit disturber Steve Ott.
posted by Hoopo at 12:10 AM on September 29, 2013

Coincidentally, they’ve been pretty damned swell at losing hockey games.
posted by mannequito at 2:06 AM on September 29, 2013

Long time hockey fan here--been watching hockey since 1981.

People do not understand why hockey fights exist. Its because of the way games are ref'ed in the leauge. A power play is a huge deal and gives one side a huge advantage. So, because of shitty NHL officiating policy, refs will make flow-of-play and competitiveness calls designed to control the outcome of play. The refs want to (1) have a near "equal" level of penalties; and (2) "let the boys play" especially in tight games at the end, where they'll swallow the whistle.

What this creates is times in the game where some egregious fouls are not gonna be called. So some coaches are going to have players take runs at skill players, often with the stick, knowing that it is a costless manuver. The players who do this are not goons. How does a team counter that? With the goon.

If a player takes that run, a good opponent (esp. in the division) will have a goon fight that player in a fist fight. It might be this game, it might be the next in a home and home series, but a chippy player is going to find himself in big trouble. So other coaches get their own good to fight the goon that is going to fight the chippy player (who often is a relatively skilled player).

Hence you see guys like Dave "Cement Head" Semenko. During Gretzky's great years, Semenko, not a skill player, was always on Gretzky's line. If someone went after Gretzky, Semenko went after them.

The wikipedia article on "Enforcer" explains it best:
Enforcer is an unofficial role in ice hockey. The term is sometimes used synonymously with "fighter", "tough guy", or "goon". An enforcer's job is to deter and respond to dirty or violent play by the opposition. When such play occurs, the enforcer is expected to respond aggressively, by fighting or checking the offender. Enforcers are expected to react particularly harshly to violence against star players or goalies.

What needs to happen to get rid of goons is the refs have to start calling games as they happen, not as NHL manangement wants them to be. Then, there will be no needs
The writer of this article knows math. He doesn't know hockey.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:40 AM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

You may want to check out the documentary Broad Street Bullies, about the Flyers in the '70s. It's on youtube.

Mr. gudrun, the hockey fan in the gudrun household going back to the seventies (and still inexplicably loyal to the Islanders, though having lived in Capitals land for some time), says that in the hockey minor leagues they have started penalizing the teams, not individual players, when there are too many penalties, and this has had an effect on how the game is played. He says it will be interesting to see if that affects the major teams as these players start feeding in to them (as they are just beginning to.)
posted by gudrun at 7:34 AM on September 29, 2013

The fact that his calculus sees only one season in the 70s as goonish throws his entire thesis into question.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:26 AM on September 29, 2013

How's this for an idea about cutting down/eliminating fighting in the NHL: Win the fight, get an extra five minutes in the box. Who judges? Well, I'll put my hand up for it...
posted by AJaffe at 7:28 PM on September 29, 2013

Jay Caufield is not only a goon, he's also a terrible broadcaster.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:16 AM on September 30, 2013

Man, in the 70s and 80s most of the guys on an NHL roster fought their way up - not just the stereotype goons, but your second pair of D, your third and 4th lines, some of the first-line guys even. It was definitely a very fighting-heavy culture, all the way down. I am glad that skill players like Gretzky, Lemieux, and the Russians helped redefine the game, and am also glad that the league got smart and embraced the uptempo, skill-oriented style.
posted by Mister_A at 11:17 AM on September 30, 2013

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