By Trevor Paul
Full disclosure: this article was originally pitched to the comedy website Cracked, but deemed too specific to get a full publication. It’s been sitting on my computer for a while now and I figured it might find a spot with the Noontime blog. So, here you go, to lighten the dog days of summer by reading some absurd hockey trivia…
#7 Paul Cavallini
Hockey is a rough sport, what with the large blunt weapons and sharp blades attached to your feet. So you would expect that one of the least threatening parts of the game would be the little rubber disc.
Paul Cavallini, a defenseman for the St. Louis Blues, would politely disagree. Playing a game in 1990, Cavallini blocked a shot from opponent Doug Weight. The shot severed the tip of his index finger.
Cavallini’s fingertip was later found inside his glove, not really a testament to its protective qualities. Unfortunately, while Cavallini went on to play again, doctors could not reattach the tip. Cavallini was forever cursed with being unable to effectively execute stereotypical disco moves, as is standard procedure in Awkward White Guy Dancing 101.
#6 Paul Kariya
The eldest of three professional brothers, Paul Kariya had the distinction of being the only truly talented college or pro player in the family. Sadly, he was drafted and spent much of his time playing for a Walt Disney inspired franchise.
Teal and purple: the colors of intimidation.
However, during that career he managed to lead his team to the Stanley Cup Finals where he ran directly into defenseman, and possible Terminator, Scott Stevens. Stevens delivered this hit in game six of the seven game series. Kariya got rocked so badly that heactually stopped breathing (note the sudden burst of fog on his visor in the clip). Remarkably, Kariya got his Disney ending to the game, coming back to score only minutes later, though Anaheim would lose the series in seven games.
Kariya and Anaheim might have won the whole thing had he mastered the secret “triple-deke” maneuver.
#5 Donald Brashear
Now, if there is one guy on this list likely to elicit the least sympathy, it would be Donald Brashear. One of the few players of African-American descent in the NHL, Brashear made himself a reputation as a very physical (read: dirty) player.
In a 2000 game against the Boston Bruins, apparently Brashear acted a little too tough and got a cheap shot that no one deserves.
Brashear had earlier fought Boston tough guy Marty McSorley and soundly beaten him. He later ran into Boston goalie Byron Dafoe, injuring the goalie’s knee. This decidedly upset Boston and McSorley spent the rest of the game trying to get another fight going with Brashear. When Brashear refused, McSorley decided to channel his anger into more inspired play, scoring the winning goal for Boston in the last moments of the game!
Oh wait, no, that wouldn’t have led to a horrific injury. Instead McSorley did this.
Believe it or not, some actually believed the stick to the head was uninspired dirty play, lacking horrific creativity. I mean it’s nothing compared to what happened to…
#4 Steve Moore
In 2004 Steve Moore was a developing player for the Colorado Avalanche beginning to show some promise. On February 16th of that year Moore delivered a legal hit on Vancouver Canuck Markus Naslund that left Naslund with a concussion. The Canucks, already irritated at having a slang term for Canadian as their name, were now certifiably pissed.
The GM of the Canucks declared the hit bogus and Canucks’ player Brad May publicly placed a bounty on Moore’s head.
Actual photo of Brad May
At the next match-up between the teams, Moore fought the Canucks token enforcer to a stalemate. Then he scored a huge goal. At this point the rage of one Todd Bertuzzi, a star on the Canucks, boiled over.
Bertuzzi’s felonious assault resulted in three fractured neck vertebrae, facial cuts, and a concussion. Steve Moore has yet to play professional hockey since, his career effectively over before it began.
Thankfully Bertuzzi was run out of the league by Gary Bettman and forced to live in an igloo in the far northern reaches of Cana…
…oh wait no, he simply made a teary apology and refused to pay for Moore’s injury trying instead to blame his then coach Carl Crawford. Bertuzzi served a short suspension and continues to play professionally in the NHL.
Pictured: Todd Bertuzzi
#3 Bryan Marchment
While it might not affect Todd Bertuzzi, karma does occasionally catch up with people. Bryan Marchment is one of those people.
Marchment was notorious during his NHL career for being a hard, arguably dirty, hitter. He once hit an opposing player so hard he collapsed his lung and the injured man had to travel home by train. Despite this, the hardest hit Marchment would ever deliver would be to himself. In the 1996-1997 playoffs while skating for the Edmonton Oilers (seriously Canadians, if you aren’t naming teams after yourselves you have to steal them from our more successful professional franchises) Marchment fell and crashed into the open penalty box door.
“Oh come on, the Americans will never notice.”
Marchment suffered a concussion but would return to playing professional hockey. No word on if the penalty box was ever able to recover from the trauma.
#2 Clint Malarchuk/Richard Zednik
Fair warning: if you do not like blood it is recommended you skip over the videos linked in this entry.
Okay now we’re getting to the truly horrific. Let me make one thing clear: even people who don’t like or understand hockey know the most dangerous parts of the game are the miniature swords attached to your feet.
There are two NHL players can attest to the danger first-hand: Richard Zednik and Clint Malarchuk.
Zednik’s was the most recent, when a teammates’ skate inadvertently came up and sliced his throat open in 2008. Zednik lost between 5 and 6 units of blood (the human body contains between 10 and 12 units) but survived thanks to the intervention of his training staff.
But this was not the first time or worst injury from a hockey skate. In 1989 Buffalo Sabers goalie Clint Malarchuck had his internal carotid artery severed by a skate. Believing he was going to die, Malarchuk skated off the ice of his own volition because, “I didn’t want (my mother) to see me die on national television.”
Fortunately for Malarchuk, Buffalo trainer and resident badass Jim Pizzutelli had returned from fighting in Vietnam to tape ankles as an NHL trainer. Pizzutelli reached into Malarchuk’s neck and pinched off the bleeding, saving his life.
Not to be outdone Malarchuk returned to the ice four days later, cementing his place in the Teddy Roosevelt Badass Hall of Fame.
#1 Bobby Baun
Times were different in the 60s. Free love was still considered cool and not a major transmitter of STDs, rock and roll was young and emerging, and Russia still had Communism.
Oh, and athletes had titanic, two-ton balls.
Bobby Baun was a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs for over a decade, winning the Stanley Cup with them four times. However, none of those times would match the impressiveness of 1963-64 in game six of the finals.
Baun was injured late in the game in front of Toronto’s net. He left the ice, not expected to return. But return he did, and remarkably scored the goal that won the game in overtime. The Leafs went on to win game seven and the Cup, but still did nothing about their comically misspelled name.
Seriously Canada, it’s like you’re not even trying.
This would all be a relatively uplifting topic for a sports film if anyone outside the frozen north cared to make a hockey movie, but that’s not the whole story. You see, Baun left because he thought he had injured his leg, but came back because the training staff froze his leg so he couldn’t feel anything.
It turns out Baun hadn’t just got a stinger, the snap he says he heard was his ankle breaking.
So to recap, Bobby Baun broke his ankle, froze it, and returned to score a game-winning goal and give the most nonchalant interview by any man in history with a broken limb. I have no reservations about calling Bobby Baun one of the toughest athletes ever because I think it’s safe to say in that situation most of us wouldn’t be Bobby Baun. We’d be Nancy Kerrigan.