Fighting is a huge part of hockey. Seeing players battling it out with their knuckles, fighting for their team and teammates, is one of the reasons most of us fell in love with hockey. Today, fighting isn’t near as usual as it was during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It was the prime time for hockey fights, and two enforcers would drop their gloves every night just to fight it out.
It’s nearly impossible to pick out the greatest hockey fights of all time, but if someone should do it, it should be Don Cherry.
He only played one game in the NHL, but when he retired, he started to get some real fame. Cherry was a great coach in the NHL, and for over 30 years, from 1986 to 2019, he was a television commentator, talking about NHL.
When Cherry wrote for The Province in Vancouver, he picked the best fight of all time, and he landed on Pierre Bouchard (Montreal) vs. Stan Jonathan (Boston) in May 1978.
”This was the best fight I ever saw,” Cherry wrote.
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”We were playing against the Canadiens in the playoffs, and as usual it was hot and heavy. For some reason Habs coach Scotty Bowman puts on all his ’heavies’ for a face-off.”
Some of the largest guys in the league were suddenly on the ice at the same time, and Cherry understood something massive was going to happen, so he sent out his ’pitbull,’ Stanley Jonathan.
”We won the draw, but the puck went out of their end and came back in quickly for an offside. So Stan skates up alongside of Pierre and sort of tugs at him. It looked like David and Goliath. Pierre accepted the challenge and away they go.”
”Boy, does Pierre start off great. He is lifting Stan off the ice and throwing him around. I’m on the bench and I say, ’Uh-oh, Stan looks like he’s bitten off more than he can chew. Get ready, boys.’
”I can’t let Stan take this rap. All of a sudden, Stan switches hands, from a righty to a lefty. This is tough for Pierre and it catches him off balance. It was doubly tough with Stan. He could KO you with either hand. Stan landed a heavy left and Pierre started to go down, but as he’s falling Stan pours about three more on him, then the ’coup de grace,’ as they say, was just as Pierre hit the ice.”
”The blood was everywhere, even on linesman John D’Amico. I felt kind of sorry for Pierre. He was a good guy, but if you play with the bull, you’re going to get the horns.”
”I remember after the fight McNab said, ’When I saw Scotty put on all those tough guys looking for trouble, I said to myself, ’Why am I out here?’ And when Grapes put on Stan to take my place, it was the happiest moment of my life.’
”When they talked to Pierre after he said, ’Serge Savard is my hero, but I really didn’t want a nose like him.’ When Pierre was asked if he thought he’d every play again in the NHL, he replied, ’Yeah, if I take up the organ.’”
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