Home / General / Violence and the Most Reprehensible Teams Ever

Violence and the Most Reprehensible Teams Ever


Andrew Cohen makes a lot of good points here, although I think that the Chara hit (which was more about rink safety than anything) isn’t the best example.   But I’m dismayed that an actual NHL fan would go along with the prevailing media double standard that gives the far, far more brutal NFL a relative pass:

You think the NFL would have let something like this go without a fine or suspension? No way.

Well, first of all, sure they might. Even to the extent that this is true it’s deeply misleading, in that it puts a great deal of weight on the “fine” part.   But if we’re comparing the justice systems in the leagues, it seems worth noting that James Harrison and Brandon Meriweather missed exactly zero games combined for their brutal hits (and, in the former case, several brutal hits) this year. At any rate, as long as the NFL metes out merely financial punishment to individual players and no effective punishment to the teams it’s not clear why their disciplinary system should be considered superior. None of this excuses the NHL’s excessively lenient and arbitrary system. But I note that given an important recent test — the latest cowardly cheap shot by the disgraceful Matt Cooke — the NHL stepped up with appropriately harsh punishment. Let me know when the NFL suspends a key player for a playoff game.

By the way, perhaps we could have a parlor game about the most reprehensible teams in pro sports history. You’ll have a hard time beating my entry, the 2003-4 Vancouver Canucks, who (as looking at the below clip when Iginla entered the top 50 in all-time NHL scoring) reminded me, featured Marc Crawford, Todd Bertuzzi, and Cooke:

(In further praise of the officials from last weekend’s Pitt/Butler game, the sequence beginning at 1:36 where Cooke was the ultimate beneficiary of some of the most dubious adjudication since Scalia’s stay decision in Bush v. Gore is a good lesson in what can happen when the refs decide that they “don’t want to affect the outcome” — they affect the outcome.) I open the floor for nominations, as starting with the 70s Flyers and Raiders I’m sure there have been even more reprehensible squads, but certainly the entire Flames team should have immediately been given the Order of Canada as soon as Gelnias’s shot crossed the line.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • seeker6079

    Is it any contest? The 70s Flyers who turned the NHL into a vicious, cheapshot artist brawl for years and years. Thugs, for the most part. Some talented players, true. Bernie Parent was a magnificent goalie, and Bobby Clarke — when he wasn’t being a cowardly stick artist who ran like a p*ssy and hid behind Dave Schulz every chance he got — and Bill Barber — when he wasn’t diving better than a soccer player — were excellent players. But there were other good teams out there, too, but they weren’t just as good at being thugs and hoodlums like the Flyers were.

  • Ron

    Born and raised in Philadelphia. Specifically, 1970’s Philadelphia. And as much as I loved them, as much as Bernie Parent was the best stand up goalie I’ve ever seen (Hasek was the best flopper, and it’s hard to compare who was more effective as both their styles and the game itself were so different), and Bobby Clark was an annoying gnat who was a great viewer of the ice, and I was and am a HUGE fan of those guys, well…

    That HAD to be the most reprehensible of all time. Dave Schultz. Bob Kelley. The Watson brothers. All were, at least to some degree, thugs and enforcers. They won two Stanley Cups, and when Montreal beat them the third year, the collective joy out of Canada was palpable.

    One of my favorite Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes involves a modern Devil and Daniel Webster. The Devil’s jury includes Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, the Boston Strangler, and the starting lineup of the 73-74 Flyers. Now THAT is reprehensible!

  • firefall

    the most reprehensible teams in pro sports history.

    Hands down, 1932/33 English cricket team touring Australia (aka the ‘Bodyline’ series)

  • BKN in Canadia

    The Bullies-era Flyers were my team, because they had so many players from my part of Canada. But when I watch video of them now…Whenever Schultz was one punch down in a fight, the whole team would jump his opponent.

    My first thought on the Cooke penalty: sure, he’s out about a quarter million in pay, but he gets a nice rest at the most battered-up part of his season, and comes back for round two of the playoffs all healed up and ready to go.

  • mpowell

    I feel that if you can’t understand the difference between the NFL and the NHL, you don’t understand how the game is played. The cheap hits in hockey are frequently incidental to the play. A lot of them are obvious revenge shots, even. Football has pretty much eliminated the shots on vulnerable receivers like Tatum’s. At this point we’re talking about tackling form and whether defensive players should be responsible for where they contact the offensive player on legitimate tackles. There is frequently just an inch or two of separation between a perfectly legal tackle and a fine. In hockey on most of these hits, the defensive player knows he’s about to commit a penalty. It’s just a question of whether you eject him or not. I don’t see how that’s not a totally different story. Hockey is a sport that, fundamentally, doesn’t need to be very violent. In football it is far less avoidable.

  • Stag Party Palin

    Oh come on guys. The 1977 Charlestown Chiefs. The Hanson brothers. Dr. Hook.

    • Dr. Hook played for Syracuse. Also, “Sylvia’s Mother” was a pretty big hit…

  • Bob

    The 1988 – 89 Detroit Pistons.

    • joejoejoe

      Basketball just isn’t that ugly or violent. Joe Dumars has the NBA sportsmanship award named after him and a hard basketball foul is less violent than a 2 minute roughing penalty in hockey. Those Pistons teams were skilled, deep and great. They took it away from the Celtics in the East and gave Jordan’s Bulls fits for years.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I don’t disagree, although I will note that skill is in no way inconsistent with reprehensibility; the 70s Flyers were a genuinely outstanding team.

        • howard

          i loved those piston teams – john salley’s great line about how they played defense: “no traps, no zones, no excuses” – because i don’t mind a physical basketball game.

          but a physical basketball game doesn’t come close to the routine violence in a pro football game (i know next to nothing about hockey and so can’t speak to it). given what we are increasingly learning learning about brain trauma and pro football, it’s hard to see how any other of the major sports (i have no idea, for example, how rugby or lacrosse rate in this matter) comes close in that health-damaging violence is at the heart of football, not a sideshow.

          • howard

            btw, the most physical basketball i ever saw was the last 5 minutes of game 7 of the 1981 celts-76ers playoff, when the refs basically put their whistles in their pockets and let the lads go at it.

            made the pistons look like pikers….

  • Morbo
  • bph

    But, hey, Winnipeg is gonna get the Jets back!

  • KC45s

    It’s hard for me to argue with the up-thread Pistons vote. But, boy, the 1990-91 Chicago Blackhawks had golems Mike Peluso (320 PIM), Stu Grimson (a Born Again Christian goon!), and Dave “Charlie” Manson–plus Chris Chelios when he never met a cheap shot he didn’t like. I make this vote despite being a Hawks fan. Of course, that team won the President’s Trophy, so no one’s going to believe they’re a bad example.

  • hv

    Hungary v. USSR, water polo, 1956 Olympics.

  • joejoejoe

    The 1992 Mets?

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Most reprehensible team? Any and all Yankees squads. Just ’cause they’re the Yankees!

  • Mr. Trend

    I’m surprised we’ve gotten this far without remembering the odious University of Miami football teams of the late-80s and early-90s (and beyond).

  • Thlayli

    The Black Sox.

It is main inner container footer text