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In light of how violent and fight-filled the first round of the NHL playoffs have been, it might be fun to take a look at two guys who took things too far one too many times. In hockey, these guys are nicknamed “goons”, physical enforcers with a reputation for hard hits and occasionally injuring opposing players. Two of the NHL’s most famous goons are Marty McSorley, protector of Wayne Gretzky in Edmonton and Los Angeles, who also spent time with Boston, Pittsburgh, San Jose and the New York Rangers; and Todd Bertuzzi, long-time Vancouver and Detroit enforcer who has defended the likes of Markus Naslund, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Bertuzzi has also spent time with the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks and Florida Panthers.  In order to examine who was the bigger “goon”, we’ll take a look at the two incidents most commonly associated with McSorley and Bertuzzi’s goonery (yes, that’s a made up word), and decide which one was the gooniest (again, made up word!) of them all.

Marty McSorley: Thinks Donald Brashear’s Head is a Piñata

Todd Bertuzzi: The Steve Moore Incident

The McSorley Incident: February 21st, 2000. As we can see in the video, McSorley, then playing for the Boston Bruins, decides for whatever reason to whack Brashear in the head with his stick, instantly injuring Brashear and knocking him to the ice. Brashear ended up losing consciousness while suffering a grade-3 concussion. McSorley ended up being suspended for the rest of the NHL season (and an additional year was tacked on to his suspension later), and he was charged with and convicted of assault with a weapon. His criminal charge resulted in an 18-month probation sentence being levied, and McSorley chose to never play hockey in the NHL again.

The Bertuzzi Incident: In a 2004 game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks, Avalanche forward Steve Moore hit Canucks captain Markus Naslund, injuring him and knocking him out of the game. Bertuzzi, then with the Canucks, wasn’t happy about it, and began to target Moore the rest of the game. Things came to a head when Bertuzzi challenged Moore to a fight, but Moore just skated away…until Bertuzzi grabbed Moore from behind, punching him in the back of the head and neck. Moore ended up with broken vertebra, a concussion, and was left paralyzed from the neck down for several months. Bertuzzi was charged with “assault causing bodily harm” in a Canadian court, and given probation. Bertuzzi was suspended for 50 games by the NHL following the Moore incident, but resumed playing in the NHL in 2005.

Verdict: It’s tough to decide who’s the bigger goon. No, not all the evidence has been examined, but each of these players earned their reputation with equally violent and physical play before the specific incidents mentioned (and in Bertuzzi’s case, equally violent and physical play after the incident). McSorley and Bertuzzi are the only two NHL players since 1988 to face criminal charges for what they did on the ice. But since Bertuzzi actually caused the victim of his goonery to become paralyzed, in addition to the fact that he punched Moore from behind after Moore tried to avoid any confrontation, as well as the fact that Bertuzzi chose to keep playing hockey after what he did, he is a bigger goon than Marty McSorley.

Gooniest Goon of all the Goons: Todd Bertuzzi


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