With so many worthy candidates, it’s tough to single out any one all-time bad guy in hockey. But for pure malevolence, Dave Schultz stands pretty tall. Over a relatively short career— mostly with the Broad Street Bully Philadelphia Flyers— “The Hammer” raised the bar on goondom, turning outright thuggery into high art. His random violence across NHL rinks redefined the traditional role of enforcer, prompting other teams to hire their own bruisers in self-defense.
Picking fights with other teams’ star players, Schultzie the hit man evolved into a smart bomb on skates. “If I take out Brad Park,” he once said of the Rangers’ early-’70s standout, “that’s not a bad trade, is it?”
In 197475, Schultz crunched and punched his way to a still-standing league record 472 penalty minutes— nearly eight full games’ worth. Flashback from that season: Schultz swings a stick at a heckling teenage Islanders fan; the boy’s mother castigates Schultz, who answers, “I’ll get you too, lady.” On a return visit, Schultz curses the boy’s father, then squirts him in the face with his water bottle. Schultz afterward: “I don’t know what comes over me out there.”
Following retirement, Schultz was somehow hired as commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League. Of the same circuit he’d so wantonly marauded a decade earlier, he said, “I want to help this league shed its goon image.” Hopefully, players ignored his autobio (The Hammer: Confessions of a Hockey Enforcer), in which Schultz offered such tidbits as this Tyson-esque recollection of his first fistic face-off: “To be honest, the sensation of my knuckles colliding with his cheek made me want to jump for joy.”