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*.
|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|
|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|
*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.