Don Cherry's "Tough Guys"

Bruce Bennett

"This one time, at band camp..."

In his article in the The Globe & Mail, "Leafs’ goon culture comes back to bite them" erstwhile blogger James Mirtle quotes Don Cherry's 2011 take on employing brawlers:

"It’s a tough sport, like I said, but I would not have a mad dog sitting on the bench only to get on [the ice] for two minutes. You should never, ever have a guy sit. I had four 20-goal scorers who were my tough guys, and that’s the way you do it."

"I had four 20-goal scorers who were my tough guys, and that’s the way you do it."

But that never happened.

Don Cherry coached in the NHL for six seasons, five with the Boston Bruins, one with the Colorado Rockies. Below is a listing, by year, of all of the 20-goal scorers who played on those teams, their penalty minutes taken and fights participated in during the corresponding season*.

74-75 G PM F
75-76 G PM F
76-77 G PM F
Phil Esposito 61 62 1
Johnny Bucyk 36 20

Peter McNab 38 11 1
Bobby Orr 46 101 2
Jean Ratelle 31 16

Jean Ratelle 33 22
Don Marcotte 31 76 2
Gregg Sheppard 31 28

Gregg Sheppard 31 20
Gregg Sheppard 30 19 1
Wayne Cashman 28 87 2
Don Marcotte 27 20
Johnny Bucyk 29 10

Bobby Schmautz 28 116 3
Bobby Schmautz 23 62 2
Ken Hodge 23 90 3
Ken Hodge 25 42

Johnny Bucyk 20 12
Bobby Schmautz 21 63 6
Terry O'Reilly 23 150 12
Rick Middleton 20 2




























77-78 G PM F
78-79 G PM F
79-80 G PM F
Peter McNab 41 4

Rick Middleton 38 7 1
Rene Robert 28 79 2
Terry O'Reilly 29 211 16
Peter McNab 35 10

Jack Valiquette 25 8
Bobby Schmautz 27 87 3
John Wensink 28 106 6
Lanny McDonald 25 43 5
Stan Jonathan 27 116 13
Jean Ratelle 27 12

Lucien DeBlois 24 36
Jean Ratelle 25 10

Wayne Cashman 27 63 3




Rick Middleton 25 8

Terry O'Reilly 26 205 20




Wayne Cashman 24 69 5
Don Marcotte 20 10





Gregg Sheppard 23 24

Bobby Schmautz 20 77 4




Brad Park 22 79 1









Don Marcotte 20 16










Bob Miller 20 41 3









*Data taken from dropyourgloves.com

Terry O'Reilly was a consistent 20-goal scorer during Cherry's five seasons in Boston, and in 1977-78 Stan Jonathan tallied 27 goalies and 13 fights. That same season John Wensink had 16 goals and 11 fights, and no one else came close. Cherry had one season with multiple fighting goal scorers in his six seasons in the NHL, and even then, reality was half as big as Cherry's description of it.

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