The Avalanche will have a genuine enforcer this coming season in hulking defenseman (and possible forward) Kurtis MacDermid. The Avs acquired him last month in a deal with Seattle, and Joe Sakic said, in effect, that his team didn’t stick up for each other enough last year – to which I whole-heartedly agree.
We can debate the question of “Do NHL teams still need a tough guy?” all we want, but take a look around the league right now to see what many teams have done over the summer. Teams are adding more tough guys to their rosters. The Avs are one of them.
This is a good opportunity, then, to toss out my list of the top five enforcers in Avalanche team history. I don’t have any empirical, analytics as to why they’re on my list. It’s just my list.
5. Warren Rychel
“Bundy” didn’t always win, in his 19 official fights with the Avs in two stints with the club. But he was certainly a willing combatant at all times and he was totally fearless. His nose was the size of a small yacht by the time his playing career was done, having taken numerous shots over the years. But he always kept punching back, too.
He was a middleweight fighter, but he sometimes took on heavyweights such as Gino Odjick and Brad May. He always stood up for a teammate, and he was a great trash talker too. As I said, he didn’t always win his fights, but he always answered the bell…
4. Jeff Odgers
“Odgie” was similar to Rychel, in that he never turned down a challenge and, while he didn’t always win, he always went down swinging at least.
He had 72 official fights in his three seasons with the Avs. He was a middleweight who would fight the heavyweights too, as the fight with Bob Probert below shows. Teammates loved him because ALWAYS addressed any liberty taken against one of the top players.
3. Cody McLeod
The Highlander fought 129 times for the Avs – the all-time team record.
He was tough as they come. He didn’t always win either, but he never let it show that it hurt. He knew what his job was, but he tried to play the game the right way. Yeah, people in Minnesota probably disagree, as he was suspended once for a hit to tiny Jared Spurgeon. But the Highlander actually had very few truly dirty hits.
Here’s a typical Highlander fight in his many years with the Avs:
2. Chris Simon
If this list took into account some of his years in Quebec, he might be at the top of the list. But the fact is, the Chief only played one season here. What a year it was, though – the first one, a championship season in which Simon not only scored 16 goals but piled up 250 penalty minutes as one of most feared fighters in the league.
The Avs goofed when they let him go, to Washington, in the next off-season. Brent Severyn gamely tried to fill his skates, but his heart was just never really into it. Simon genuinely liked to take out his aggressions on opponents’ faces. Though a quiet, peaceful man off the ice, Simon was truly scary as a fighter.
Here is probably his most famous fight as an Av, against Chicago’s Bob Probert in the 1996 playoffs – a fight that really helped turn around that game – and series – in favor of the Avs.
- Scott Parker
The Sheriff was a genuinely frightening dude when he dropped the gloves. He fought 51 times for the Avs, but often couldn’t find any takers when he wanted to drop the gloves even more. He had a very hard right hand, which he toughed up in off-seasons by wrapping chains around it and punching trees. That’s no lie.
He won a Cup with the Avs in 2001 and made legit contributions to that team.
Here’s one of your more typical Parker fights: