Quiet times in the hockey world these days, but it doesn't seem appropriate to allow Lebron James and his giant ego to continue to dominate the GTOG headlines. So in honor of Bob Probert, who died Monday at the age of 45, we decided to bring you our list of the Top 10 Penguin enforcers of the last 25 years. Our rankings are certainly arbitrary and open to debate (which we encourage), but they are informed by our sense that these were the players who best understood their role and executed it with the most admirable combination of skill and enthusiasm.
We should acknowledge that, although Probert will long be remembered as one of the toughest men to ever lace up the skates, he could play a little, too. Somehow, in the midst of piling up 398 penalty minutes during the 1987-88 campaign, Probie managed to finish third on the Red Wings in scoring with 62 points. None of the guys we are about to name ever approached that level of production. Indeed, some of them struggled with concepts like "staying on-side," "icing," and "passing." Regardless, we appreciate their contributions.
Read on for GTOG's List of Top 10 Penguin Enforcers
1. Eric Godard (2008-present)
Controversial top pick? I don't think so. I cannot think of any true heavyweight in last three decades who has his combination of ability and - for lack of a better term - hunger. You want to go? He'll go. And more often than not, he'll win. Sid and Geno know this guy is looking out for them, night in and night out. We can't say the same for the guy at #3 on this list.
2. Marty McSorley (1983-1985; 1993-1994)
In two stints with the Pens, Marty left an impression. He deserves this spot based both on his stature as one of the top heavyweights in history and perhaps the most epic fight by anyone who has worn a Penguin uniform.
3. George Laraque (2006-2008)
BGL had what we call an "honor" issue. He was a little too hung up on only picking on guys his own size. Obvious problem: no one was really his size. What an ox.
4. Chris Tamer (1993-1999)
Vastly underrated tough guy.
5. Gary Rissling (1980-1985)
He earns the fifth spot by virtue of tripping Mike Milbury and accumulating 832 penalty minutes in 184 games with the Penguins.
6. Matthew Barnaby (1998-2001)
Perhaps the most talented hockey player on this list, he was always game, on and off the ice.
7. Mark Kachowski (1987-1990)
Great name, great attitude. He didn't last long in the league, but who didn't enjoy watching him grease his knuckles with vaseline between shifts?
8. Francois "Frankie" Leroux (1994-1997)
Frankie was lanky.
9. Jay Caufield (1988-1993)
Strong as they come and a terrific guy, Jay Caufield simply could not skate. During most fights, he struggled just to keep his feet. He's a magician with that telestrator though.
10. Steve McKenna (2000-2004)
Big Bird was tall and a F.O.M. (Friend of Mario). Sometimes that's enough.
- Dan Frawley, Randy Cunneyworth, Terry Ruskowski, and Rod Buskas (the 1980's). These guys will be forever linked in the minds of those of us who recall the early years of Mario Lemieux's career. The team was terrible. Mario was brilliant. Buskas, Frawley, Cunneyworth, and Ruskowski always had his back.
- Ruslan "It's Impossible to Miss Colby Armstrong's Nose" Fedotenko (2007-2009).