Sure, Wayne Gretzky holds many NHL records, and many of them will never be broken. But when talking about unbeatable NHL records, Dave Schultz also got one. He was never the most skillful player or the player who scored the most goals or helpers.
But the NHL has probably never seen an enforcer as good as Dave Schultz. It earned him the nickname ”The Hammer,” and during the 1974-75 season, he did something that had never been done in the NHL. Not before and not after, and it probably never will. Dave Schultz had won the Stanley Cup with the Philadelphia Flyers in the season before, and The Hammer showed no signs of slowing down.
He was hungry for more, and in that record-breaking season in the mid-70s, he had more penalty minutes than anybody else. Dave Schultz had 472 penalty minutes, more than anyone else during a season, and if the game doesn’t change dramatically, it will never be broken. Dave Schultz played during a different era.
Hockey was tougher, every team had several goons, and today, it’s extremely rare for an NHL player even to get close to 200 PIMs during a season. In fact, since the 2010-11 season, the highest a player has been during a season was 307, but during the last five years, the number is only 212.
But Schultz wasn’t just great when talking about penalty minutes. He was also an excellent fighter, and as he was the main protector in every team he played for, there were a lot of them. Schultz was the most notable enforcer on the Flyers’ famous ”Broad Street Bullies,” and almost every game, somebody was ready to fight him. And he was rarely afraid to answer the bell. But some players frightened him more than others.
When speaking to NBC a couple of years ago, he claimed that the toughest opponent of his career was Terry O’Reilly. He was the main enforcer for the Boston Bruins, and they fought close to ten times during their careers.
”We fought so many times. If anyone asks who the toughest guy I ever fought was, I’d say Terry O’Reilly. It was his job to fight me every time,” Schultz said.
Schultz said that O’Reilly did everything to fight Schultz as soon as emotions ran high during those matchups.
O’Reilly happened to be a lefty, which made things complicated.
”You know what the tough thing about fighting him was? He was a lefty and I’m a righty. His left was wide open. Of course, so was my right, you know?”