John Ferguson comes in at number eight on our list. The rough-nosed kid from Vancouver could very well be one of the toughest players to ever play the game. I just wish I could have seen him play live.
John had a short career in the NHL. He only played eight seasons, all with the Montreal Canadiens.
It was in 1963 when John got the call-up for the Canadiens. They called him up for one reason only—to protect Montreal’s star player Jean Beliveau.
In John’s first game up with Montreal, he ended up fighting and winning against “Terrible” Ted Green of the Boston Bruins. That’s when Montreal decided that they were going to keep him in the lineup.
John played the enforcer role well. He did take a couple of cheap shots—but really, when you think about it, which enforcer hasn’t? John had 1214 penalty minutes in 500 games. A lot of those penalty minutes were probably added up from his 67 NHL fights.
Ferguson could also score. That was a big bonus. He finished his career with 300 points—and when you do the math, that’s .61 points a game. Not bad for an enforcer. He was the runner-up for the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year), was selected for two All-Star games, and won the Stanley Cup 5 different times. All this in only eight seasons. He even scored a Stanley Cup game-winning goal in 1969.
He retired early, but stayed in the hockey business. In 1972, he was the assistant coach for Team Canada when they played the Soviets in the infamous Summit Series. Then he went on to work for a couple different teams in the NHL, as a GM, head coach, etc.
In 2005 John was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and on July 14, 2007, he died.
John was a great enforcer—and better yet, a great player. Rest in peace. John.
Note: This is part three of a ten-part series.