ED. NOTE: We had a chance to speak with hockey fighting legend Dave "The Hammer" Schultz as he launches a revamped Web site filled with collectables and information about his infamous NHL career. In Part One of our chat, The Hammer breaks down three classic fight videos. Part Two, publishing on Friday, is an extensive Q&A about his career, today's NHL and being a cult hero. Enjoy.
Last season, Daniel Carcillo of the Phoenix Coyotes led the NHL with 324 penalty minutes in just 57 games. Let's say he played a full 82 games, with the same PIM-per-game average; his total still wouldn't have reached the 472 penalty minutes Dave Schultz amassed in the 1974-75 season with the Philadelphia Flyers.
And he was a plus-16, no less.
Depending on which puckhead circles you travel in, Dave "The Hammer" Schultz is an NHL legend: Two-time Stanley Cup champion, one of the most feared fighters during one of the League's most illicit periods and an undeniable free spirit. From hockey historian Joe Pelletier:
He led the NHL in PIM in his first 3 NHL seasons and 4 times in total. He epitomized the Broad Street Bullies - also known as the Philadelphia Flyers - during their reign of terror to the Stanley Cup in both 1974 and 1975.
But hey, Hammer wasn't that bad of a guy! He was just doing his job. In fact, he was always troubled by hockey violence. After retiring from hockey he wrote in his autobiography "I love hockey, and wish reckless violence wasn't part of it."
It's been nearly 30 years since his last game, but his name still means something to generations of hockey fans who never saw him play: His legend lived on in hockey fight VHS tapes and, later, on Internet archives like YouTube.
"Technology has changed our world," said Schultz, who has a revamped Web site for fans, in a telephone interview. "When young fans watch fights today [in the NHL], they want to go back and compare them to the older ones."
We wanted to go back, too. So we asked "The Hammer" to break down three infamous fights that have been YouTube sensations, and provide a commentary on the mayhem.
The first brawl was between Schultz and David "Tiger" Williams, the legendary enforcer for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks among others. This "line brawl" has over 142,000 views on YouTube.
"He hacked Clarkie. I came in," said Schultz. "Look at the way he fights. It's like ... well, I was going to say 'like a woman.' Look at how he has his arm around my back. He just wants to hang on. If you look really close, [you'll see] that he kneed me, he head-butted me, and then he bit me on the cheek. If you look really close, there are teeth marks on my cheek."
Did you get bitten a lot as a fighter?
"No, this was the only time ever. You watch me leave the ice. Look really close. You can see a red mark on my left cheek. That fight went on and on and on. It was all in close. I like to stand back and swing away. He was holding me in close. He got a double game-misconduct. I got a triple."
Where you guys talking at all during this?
"You'd think we would be, but no, we don't talk. But after the game, I'm in the dressing room and Keith Allen our GM says, 'C'mon, Dave.' So I walk into this other room and there's Clarence Campbell, and he's about 80 years old, wearing a straw hat. Keith tells me to show him the teeth marks. So I do. And Clarence Campbell says, 'Dave, you shouldn't have been there anyway.' And that was that."
Do you usually play up to the crowd like this?
"I don't know, I was so psyched up. I was going, 'You Toronto fans stink.'"
This next fight was against defenseman Dale Rolfe of the New York Rangers. Not exactly a pugilist, Schultz was rather stunned when Rolfe decided to go.
"I was told by one of our assistant coaches that this guy Rolfe was playing really well, and that if I had a chance I should hit him. I never thought I'd fight him. If you take a look at this, he shoves [Orest] Kindrachuk and then he dropped his gloves. So I'm going, 'Holy [crap], here's a chance.' If he doesn't drop his gloves, I wouldn't have fought him."
What about the hair pulling. Was that really part of the code back in the 1970s?
"Gary Howatt came into the league and was winning all these fights. We had long hair back then. You grab a hold of your hair, and you can't move. You're done. I don't know why I grabbed hair. And I even head-butted. I got suspended one time. I couldn't keep up with all these rules changes."
Unfortunately, this classic brawl can't be embedded from YouTube. So go check it out, and then check out how the Hammer breaks it down below.
"He actually won this fight. You know what the tough thing about fighting him was? He was a lefty and I'm a righty. His left was wide open. Of course, so was my right, you know?
"He didn't hurt me. I got in a few. We fought so many times. If anyone asks who the toughest guy I ever fought was, I'd say Terry O'Reilly. It was his job to fight me every time. If you watch this closely from the beginning, I was going to fight with Forbes. And you'd see him go in and out of players just to get to me and fight me. That's why we fought eight times."
What was your record in those eight fights?
"8-0. Ah, I guess I'll give him one. 7-1."
Check out part two of our interview with Dave "The Hammer" Schultz on Friday.
- Dave Schultz