Darius Kasparaitis was the iconic defenseman who wasn’t afraid to go against anyone. No matter the superstar, the Lithuanian was there to terrorize his opponent, which wasn’t the norm in those days.
Superstars like Eric Lindros, Mario Lemieux, and Wayne Gretzky often got left alone, and few players dared to go up against them. But Darius Kasparaitis was unique, and according to the legends, Lemieux eventually was so tired of playing against Kasparaitis that he demanded the Penguins to trade for him, which they also did.
Kasparaitis had a fantastic career, playing close to 1 000 games in the NHL and racking up close 1 400 PIMs. Kasparaitis played against many really tough guys during his years in the league, but who was the toughest? Some might have thought the answer would be Bob Propert. But the answer is more unexpected than that.
”The hardest player? The first one I can think of is Jaromir Jagr,” he says.
”Jagr was incredibly strong. It was almost impossible to move him.”
Kasparaitis played with Jagr in the Penguins and also mentioned another former teammate.
”I hated playing against Alex Kovalev. He was incredibly skilled and could absolutely humiliate you,” he says.
”And the same thing with Martin St Louis. He was, on top of that, physically strong. I had more problems against the smaller, faster players. They were harder to tackle.”