The 10 Most Brutal Moments in NHL History
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Yes, hockey can be a rough, tough and bloody game. We now take a look at the 10 most brutal moments in NHL history.
Brutality can be measured in different ways. Usually, it's the act itself that is brutal. An illegal hit that is so outside the rules that it results in a horrific injury.
In other circumstances, the hit or play may be accidental, but the result is so brutal it demands inclusion on a list like this.
The brutality of an incident is measured by the harshness and illegality of the action or the harshness and ugliness of the result.
It's always tough to limit lists like this to 10 incidents. Feel free to include any incidents you feel may have been omitted.
10. Howie Morenz Breaks His Leg
Howie Morenz's Hall of Fame career ended on January 28, 1937, during a game between the Blackhawks and Canadiens. By March 8 of that year, Morenz had died, most likely from a heart attack.
Morenz went to get the puck and lost his balance, crashing into the boards and catching his foot in the wood. Chicago's Earl Seibert landed on Morenz going full speed and a loud, shattering noise was heard throughout the rink. Morenz had broken his leg in four places and was rushed to the local hospital.
He never left the hospital. He grew depressed thinking his hockey career may be over and later suffered a heart attack. He died at the age of 34, many say of a broken heart.
The Canadiens had Morenz's body lie in state at the Forum for public viewing.
Because of the horrible sound of the star's leg bones shattering and his eventual death, this incident found its way onto the most brutal moments in NHL history.
9. Chris Simon Attacks Ryan Hollweg
March 8, 2007, was a rough day for Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg. During a game at the Nassau Coliseum, Hollweg was struck in the jaw and throat by Chris Simon of the Islanders.
Simon was hit on the play, but he clearly lost his cool and brutally attacked Hollweg, using his stick as a weapon. Hollweg was prone on the ice for a while after the attack. Like a true hockey player, he received a few stitches and later returned to the game.
The NHL suspended Simon for 25 games as a result of his outrageous actions. Unfortunately for Simon, it would not be the last time he lost his cool and resorted to an act of violence far outside the rules.
8. Dale Hunter Attacks Pierre Turgeon Well After the Play
No matter how you view it, there was no excuse for Dale Hunter's actions during Game 6 of the playoff series between the Islanders and Capitals back in 1993.
Pierre Turgeon of the Islanders scored a goal late in the game that all but clinched the game and the series for the Islanders.
A few seconds after Turgeon's goal and well after he started his celebration, Washington's Dale Hunter hit the Isles' sniper late, high and from behind, separating his shoulder.
The NHL came down hard on Hunter, suspending him for the first 21 games of the 1993-94 season, the longest suspension due to an on-ice incident in NHL history up until that time.
Hunter's move was a cheap shot of the worst kind and had no place in hockey.
7. Todd Bertuzzi Sucker Punches Steve Moore
On March 8, 2004, Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi earned a spot on the list of hockey's most brutal moments when he suckerpunched Colorado's Steve Moore and ended Moore's career.
Bertuzzi punched Moore in the back of the head and then fell on top of the injured Avs forward, as did a few other players who joined the incident.
Moore suffered a concussion, facial lacerations and broke three bones in his neck. His hockey career was over.
The NHL suspended Bertuzzi for the rest of the 2003-04 season and playoffs. He was not reinstated until after the NHL lockout of 2004-05 which canceled all of the following season.
Despite playing clean hockey since then, this brutal incident has been a black mark against Bertuzzi that will follow him for the rest of his life.
6. Eddie Shore Nearly Kills Ace Bailey
Hall of Famer Eddie Shore was involved in one of hockey's most brutal moments back on December 12, 1933.
Shore was hit by Red Horner during a game between his Bruins and the Maple Leafs. Shore turned around and looked to see who hit him and mistakenly believed it was Ace Bailey. Shore hit Bailey from behind and his head hit the ice hard as a result. Bailey suffered a fractured skull and was rushed to the hospital for emergency, life-saving surgery.
Bailey barely survived the incident, and his hockey career was ended. A game featuring the league's top stars was held on February 14, 1934, to raise funds for Bailey and his family. At that game, Shore and Bailey shook hands to make amends.
Shore was suspended 16 games for the hit. It only reinforced his reputation as one of the toughest, meanest players in the league.
5. McSorley Clubs Brashear in the Head with His Stick
This brutal attack on Brashear ended McSorley's NHL career.
It was a cheap shot that ended the NHL career of enforcer Marty McSorley.
McSorley had played in the NHL from 1983-84 through 1999-00. He spent most of his career as Wayne Gretzky's body guard in both Edmonton and Los Angeles. He had 13 seasons with more than 100 penalty minutes including three seasons with more than 300.
On February 21, 2000, McSorley chopped at the head of Donald Brashear, knocking the big Canucks enforcer to the ice. There were just two seconds left in the game. Brashear's head hit the ice hard and he suffered a Grade III concussion.
McSorley was suspended for the remainder of the 1999-00 season and playoffs and never played in the NHL again.
He was also convicted of criminal assault with a weapon (his stick) and sentenced to 18 months probation as a result of the incident.
4. Ted Green and Wayne Maki Swing Sticks
Although it took place during an exhibition game, the stick-swinging incident between Wayne Maki of the Blues and Boston's "Terrible" Ted Green has gone down as one of the most brutal in NHL history.
It took place on September 21, 1969, in Ottawa. Maki and Green engaged in a stick-swinging battle that almost resembled fencing. Maki struck Green in the head and the Bruins' tough guy suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. He missed all of the 1969-70 NHL season and was never quite the same player again.
Green managed to return to action in 1970-71 and spent another two seasons with the Bruins, helping them win a Stanley Cup in 1971-72. The following season, he joined the WHA where he finished his career playing for the New England Whalers and the Winnipeg Jets.
Maki was sent down to the minors for most of the 1969-70 season and was not protected by the Blues in the 1970 expansion draft. The Vancouver Canucks selected him, and he had two productive seasons for them before he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died in 1974 at the age of 29.
3. Gordie Howe Beats Up Louie Fontinato
Fontinato's face after the fight with Howe can be seen about 50 seconds into this video.
"Leapin" Louie Fontinato was a tough defenseman for the New York Rangers from 1954 to 1961, but he met his match in a brutal fight with Gordie Howe on February 1, 1959.
The two players had a history of fights and physical confrontations.
Howe just beat Fontinato into a pulp. A Rangers player who was on the ice said the punches to Fontinato's face "sounded like an axe splitting wood."
The Rangers tough guy suffered a broken nose and a fractured jaw as a result of this altercation. Photos of Fontinato's bloodied and scarred face after the fight appeared in Life magazine and became famous as an example of how physical a game hockey can be.
2. Clint Malarchuk Has His Thoat Cut on the Ice
This incident was completely accidental, but it was such a horrific mess that it earned its way onto the list of the most brutal moments in NHL history.
On March 22, 1989, Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk had his jugular vein slit open by the skate of St. Louis' Steve Tuttle.
Malarchuk nearly bled to death right there on the ice. This video is not for the faint of heart. In fact, according to reports about the incident, 11 fans fainted at the game, two had heart attacks and three players on the ice threw up.
Malarchuk was saved by the team trainer, who had served in Vietnam and knew how to treat serious injuries.
Malarchuk was able to resume his NHL career and spent another three seasons with Buffalo before finishing his career in the minors.
1. Bill Masterton Dies from Injuries Suffered During a Game
Bill Masterton remains the only player in NHL history to die directly because of what happened in an NHL game.
On January 13, 1968, the Oakland Seals were visiting the Minnesota North Stars in Bloomington. During the first period, Masterton was hit cleanly by two Seals players, Larry Cahan and Ron Harris. Masterton fell backwards and hit his head hard on the ice. Like most NHL players back in the late 1960s, Masterton was not wearing a helmet.
People on the ice immediately knew something was wrong. Blood was flowing from Masterton's nose, mouth and ears. He was rushed to a local hospital, but he died roughly 30 hours after the incident.
The Masterton Trophy is named in his honor.
Masterton's death increased pressure on the league to make helmets mandatory. It took more than a decade for that rule to be passed, and even then it was grandfathered in so that any player under contract to an NHL team before the rule was passed did not have to wear a helmet.
Masterton was just 29 when he died.