Every year a new crop of knuckle-chucking lads arrives in the NHL, wet behind the ears and anxious to let ’em fly. This season, an especially well-stocked batallion of youthful yahoos is making a strong statement to the league’s established enforcers. Leading the way is Nashville grill-shaker Patrick Cote, whose 16 fighting majors ties him for the league lead with Colorado’s diminutive Jeff Odgers. The 6-3 Cote has served up heaping doses of fistic frappé to whoever has placed an order. A quick peek at Cote’s list of opponents reads like a roll call of the NHL’s most feared fighters: Stu Grimson (three times), Bob Probert (twice), and Tony Twist (also three times), to name a ferocious few. Boffo brawler Peter Worrell of Florida is one more renegade rookie. Another tall drink of water at 6-6, Worrell has quickly earned a reputation around the league’s locker
rooms as a loose cannon who’ll toe the line any time, any place, as his 12 fighting majors prove. Ultimately, the baddest of the bunch may prove to be Colorado crusher Scott Parker, a 20-year-young behemoth who, at 6-4, 220, resembles a human eclipse. Sporting a bushy goatee that makes him look like an extra-large version of old-time Boston Bruin badboy John Wensink, Parker’s pugnacious disposition is well earned— those in the know say he didn’t lose a fight in over two seasons of minor-league mayhem! Parker doesn’t waste any time either, taking on the likes of Darren Langdon, Donald Brashear, Twist, Grimson, and Worrell all within the first six minutes of games during this, his initial tour of duty. The slate of tenacious tooth-cutters continues, with Vancouver’s Chris McAllister, San Jose’s Brantt Myhres, Colorado’s Wade Belak, Los Angeles’s Mark Visheau, and Edmonton’s Sean Brown— all among the legion of battlers ready to punch their respective tickets to knuckle junction. Add to the mix last year’s best rookie renegade, Krzystzof Oliwa of the Devils, and the league’s young guns take a back seat to no one when it comes to shedding the leather and duking it out. See ya in the sin bin!
More of the season’s best bouts to date:
Dec. 1 Peter Worrell (FLA) vs. Darren Langdon (NYR)
A late-fight peppering of punches by Langdon rattles Worrell’s pearly whites and shows once again what everyone already knows: Langdon’s got the deepest gas tank in town.
Dec. 5 Jeff Odgers (COL) vs. Rudy Poeschek (STL)
Poeschek is a big-time punch thrower who gives as good as he takes when the mitts are off. Odgers is a smaller-sized version of the same. The result? They do their own version of “The Little Drummer Boy” on each other’s craniums.
Dec. 17 Scott Parker (COL) vs. Chris McAllister (VAN)
If punches were morse code, then these two just wrote War and Peace, Part Two in this melee. Among the toughest of this year’s youngsters, both battlers conduct their own personal intros, fist-to-chin style, in a fight featuring well over 50 combined punches . . . one of the year’s best.
Dec. 19 Cam Russell (COL) vs. Brantt Myhres (SJ)
“Someone turn on the light!” yells Russell after getting sent to the mat against another tough yahoo in Myhres. After trading jabs for a round or two, a lightning quick left from Myhres puts the finishing touches on this brawl.
Dec. 23 Grant Marshall (DAL) vs. Tie Domi (TOR)
This is the first time Domi has had his hat handed to him in a long while, thanks to a left to the temple from Marshall. Just two sounds here: Marshall’s knuckle thumping Domi’s colossal cranium, then Tie’s can hitting the ice.
Dec. 26 Chris McAllister (VAN) vs. Brantt Myhres (SJ)
This rematch rumble featuring two tough young guns is a doozy, with rapid-fire rights taking center stage. Whose melon will pop up first? McAllister’s, that’s whose, as Myhres registers another vigilant victory against the Canuck’s 6-6 strong-arm.
Dec. 31 Darren Langdon (NYR) vs. Scott Parker (COL)
Do ya think these guys are a little anxious? Twelve seconds in and the mitts are down. Both bruisers play crack the coconut in front of a rabid New Year’s Eve crowd in a spirited soiree of a draw.