Are you sure you are thinking of Paul Baxter? I think you are describing Neil Sheehy. To this day, Neil Sheehy is the only player who effectively checked Gretzky for a full 7 game series.(1986 BOA. Steve Smith goal)
Paul Baxter wasn't a great fighter, but he would go with anyone. You don't get 409 PIM in a season by hardly ever fighting.
My memories of Baxter are him hacking guys, slashing guys, getting into scraps, and hanging on for dear life. I don't think he ever initiated a fight with a heavy-weight. Sheehy was cut from the same mould.
Definitely. I remember Fotiu gliding between the benches, staring down the other team, and nobody stepping up. This happened a lot.
That is just it, Fotiu didn't have to fight all the time, his record was tops in the league and nobody wanted to go him. Sure Hunter et al were good fighters but they also had a lot of guys that were willing to fight them. Fighting Fotiu, you just never knew what was going to happen, he could have easily done a Tyson and you would come out with half an ear!!! Like I say, just the right amount of craziness in him! lol For the younger people on this thread, take it from us old guys who watched the team from the beginning, when we say Fotiu, it is Fotiu!!! lol
Fotiu had to take the NYC subway to play hockey as a kid. He carried a hatchet in his hockey bag just in case. Tough hombre and a really nice guy off the ice.
I loved him when he was a Flame. I had seats behind the Flames bench as a kid, and he would always toss pucks over the boards after warmups.
Definitely one of my fondest memories as a kid at the dome.....strange how important it was for me to get pucks. There would be a scrum of a dozen or so 10-12 year olds fighting over them like they were $100 bills.
As far as legacy goes it is definitely Tim Hunter. As far as best fighter it is Godard and it isn't even close.
Godard would have been KO'D by Fotiu in as New York minute! There was no quit in his vocabulary, as you can see by the video posted earlier, it was balls out and if someone thought they were tough enough he would be more than willing to teach them that he was still the king!
He would rank up there with the toughest in league history IMO. Really should have been a 70' Broad Street Bully though!! lol
I've been ripping through Ross Bernstein's book called "The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL" which is packed with some truly great stories by past and current enforcers from around the league.
Inside is this hilarious Nick Fotiu story and I just had to post it. Fotiu was a very popular New York Ranger in the 70's and 80's and made a few stops along the way, including a stint in the WHA with the Hartford Whalers. Here's Nick in his own words:
"I used to love intimidating the opposition; it was a lot of fun. I remember when the Flyers would come to Madison Square Garden in New York to play us. I knew exactly what time they were going to arrive and what door they were coming in. So I would do like 200 push-ups right before they got there and would tape my wrists and get my arms all pumped up. Then I would put on a tank top and position myself right by the door where they came in. I would stand there looking just sweaty and pissed while I was sawing my sticks for that night's game. Well, when they walked in and started heading to their locker room, I know that they would look over at me and see me all pumped up with my muscles all bulging out.
That had a psychological effect on their tough guys for sure. They would come in tired from a long trip and then start thinking, "Oh man, look at this freaking guy!" Then, when they were getting dressed, I would go run a lap around the concourse and dump water all over me to make it look like I was sweating like crazy. I would then go down by their locker room while they were getting dressed and talk to the trainers. They would say real loud, "Oh, you're not playing tonight, Nick?" and I would say "No, I just felt like running three miles before the game to really get warmed up."
I know their guys could hear it, and I wanted to plant that seed. Then, and here is the kicker, I would buzz around like crazy during warm-ups, real fast. Finally, when
the game started and I got my first shift, I would come out like a bat out of hell, just banging guys and scaring the crap out of them. You just knew that they were over on their bench thinking, "Man, this freaking guy is nuts. He just ran three miles. Look at him!"
- "The Code" by Ross Bernstein
Here's Fotiu viciously beating Paul Holmgren (I think) into the ice at the old Spectrum in Philly. Fotiu was a mean #######.
When I was a kid my family was eating at a chinese restaurant (Oriental Dragon? on Macleod) and Fotiu and Churla let me sit at their table and hang while they had a couple beers and ate. This was back in the lunch pale days of the NHL, they made my day and I probably made their day because they probably missed their family somewhere as well. They even pulled out a plate for me so I could eat as well.
I forget if they played together on the Flames, but both tough guys. You knew you were in a fight with them. I always thought Churla was more of a dirty fighter, but Fotiu was certainly on the tale end of his career when he was with us. I clearly remember Churla with a big shiner and Fotiu had a scratched up face.
The old tough guys don't compare to the modern giant scrappers we have today, it is a whole different game now.
I'll bump my Tim hunter post from a few years back but I have some other comments about this thread.
1). Sandy McCarthy was the league champ while here. He was not as good when he left, but he also dropped 20 or 30 pounds after leaving.
2) nick fotiu is not getting the respect he deserves in this thread. It is unfortunate there isn't more footage of him. He was the most intimidating player we ever dressed and teams were genuinely afraid of him. I can't think of what an equivalent would have been these days....perhaps Steve McIntyre in a league without an instigator rule and line brawls two or three times a game, but remove any time of McIntyre getting ko'd. Nick would also go get you under the stands if he had to, which added to the intimidation. Literally a guy who fought his way off the mean streets of new York into a career. One of the top fighters ever in NHL history. Not he best flame enforcer but rather th mot intimidating. If he were less intimidating he would have fought more. One of those types.
3). Craig berube version 1.0 was a hell of a fighter. May have had some of the quickest hands ever. Stuck around a long time and one of the few enforcers to ever hit 1000 games. Try to ignore his later incarnations and catch some footage of him in his first go round.
4). Toughest defenseman to ever play for us is an interesting angle. Jim Kyte was never the same after Joey kocur ko'd him in one of the worst knock outs ever in the NHL, but he was still pretty tough. Baxter talked a good game, but hunter would have to o save him. Charlie Bourgious was one of he few flames to get a win overdave semenko. Sheehy was like Baxter. Russell was tough and mean but not really scary. Holt was a nut. Wade belak was probably the toughest blue liner all told. Huscroft was one of my favorites. Greg smythe had a time here as well.
I hate auto correct so I can't type more
Was it Kocur? Thought it was Dave Brown, and stuff came out of Kyte's ear.
Peplinski does't get enough credit for dropping them in the midheavyweight division, and often stepped up in weight class.
Baxter would still drop them, but I wonder, if you asked him, if his bigger goon days were it Pittsburgh previous to Calgary? Sheehy was more of the guy that followed Gretzky around and tried to get under his skin.
Plett was a bonafide stud...that video where he clubbed the Wings goalie (Greg Stefan?) was brutal as a NorthStar. Plus, he was up for rookie of the year IIRC and cut Dave Hodge's tie on the air.
McCarthy was a the heavyweight champ until he got Clarke Wilm syndrome and assumed he could pot 20 goals.
Godard, who fought himself out of a job here because no one wanted to drop the gloves against him.
The Simon Oliwa combo was Darryl's way of establishing the attitude for that 03/04 team.
Fotiu was a sideshow. Sure, enjoyable, and probably the scariest guy in the league prior to coming to the Flames, and that rep carried through while he was here, as was referenced in the book quoted here...Slap Shot was written around him.
Hunter is probably the all time guy, for longevity and consistency.
Godard and McCarthy for the devastational hammering down night after night.
Oliwa, and Thomson for the theatrics and electricity they brought, knowing they were looking for a fight every shift.
Honorable mention for Berube and Plett. Lowry flipping the puck out to allow Berube on the ice, Gilbert pointing for him to stay on the nice, and then tracking down Jeff Friesen in the Ducks Brawl is classic.
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