When talking about classic NHL goons, you can’t leave Steve Durbano out of the discussion. He wasn’t your regular enforcer; he was more than that. Durbano was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round of the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft but got traded to the St. Louis Blues early in his career.
Durbano played an important role in the Blues team and quickly earned a reputation for being one of the toughest players in the league. Durbano was, to be quite frankly, a complete lunatic on the ice. During the 1975-76 season, he led the NHL in PIM with 370.
As you probably understand, Durbano faced many suspensions during his career and paid many fines to the NHL. This was when hockey was tougher, and suspensions weren’t handed out as easily as today. If Durbano played today, he would probably be suspended more time than not.
Durbano left the NHL before the 1977-78 season but was back a year later. He signed as a free agent with his former team St. Louis Blues, but it wasn’t long before he got into more trouble. During a game at the Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, Durbano got into a fight with Nick Fotiu and was sent out of the game. The refs couldn’t contain him, however, and he re-engaged the fight. Eventually, they got him out, but before he left the ice, he bent over and mooned the crowd.
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Although Durbano argued that the Rangers’ Nick Fotiu started the affair, the NHL gave him a five-game suspension. But he wasn’t regretful and slammed back at people saying it was tasteless of him.
”You can’t gross out that New York City crowd,” he said.
”It was only a gesture. You’ve seen guys give people the finger. Well, this was just a gesture and it wasn’t directed at the people in the building. It was for the league.”
He also claimed that he got suspended only because of the mooning happening in New York.
”Anywhere else there would have been a couple of lines in the paper and that would have been it. The league would have gotten a report on paper. On paper, it wouldn’t have looked like much.”
He only played a few more games before his NHL career ended that same year. Steve Durbano died of liver cancer at the age of 50 on Nov. 16, 2002.
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