Like a reliable captain or a sturdy presence behind the bench, every hockey team needs a goon to play the role of enforcer and do the dirty work. Even in the post-lockout NHL, fighting is a huge part of the game. Finding guys who are not valuable assets to the team to eat up the penalty minutes can be crucial.
No team wants to get pushed around, so the players on this list make damn sure that doesn't happen.
Every team's got one, so here is the biggest goon on each NHL team.
George Parros is the prototypical NHL goon. He looks the part with his shaggy hair and mustache, and he acts the part, spending more time in the Sin Bin than on the ice.
Parros dropped the mitts 27 times this season and racked up 171 penalty minutes.
Not only is Shawn Thornton the biggest goon on the Boston Bruins, he might be one of the biggest badasses in the entire NHL.
He makes as much noise with his mouth as he does with his fists, and isn't afraid to mix it up with anybody. Not to mention, Thornton is damn good at pissing people off. Throw in his ability to rock a mohawk, and Thornton is one mean dude.
Many would expect Patrick Kaleta to take the honors of being the biggest goon on the Buffalo Sabres. However, Kaleta is nothing more than a widely-hated agitator who doesn't pack much of a punch.
Cody McCormick is the true goon on the Sabres' roster. He spends plenty of time parked in the penalty box, and makes people pay when he starts a fight.
Goons aren't normally drafted in the second round, but Tim Jackman was and he definitely fits the profile of a goon.
Granted, the Calgary Flames aren't exactly loaded with brawlers, but Jackman does what he can to fill the part. Don't let the black eye fool you -- Jackman can fight. You should see the other guys.
Standing at 6'4'' tall and weighing 225 pounds, Troy Bodie helps keep Carolina's skill players feeling nice and safe. Who wouldn't feel at ease with this monster lurking on the bench?
I know Bodie is a free agent, but I have to think the Canes will retain him for cheap. He's a useful piece to the puzzle.
Some teams just aren't mean enough, and the Chicago Blackhawks are one of those teams.
So, why not get a little meaner in the offseason? How mean? Daniel Carcillo mean. There isn't a soul in the league that likes this little slime ball. But beyond his agitation skills, he can actually mix it up with the best of them and has a decent amount of skill.
For a goon, Carcillo is pretty well rounded.
When a player averages more than a penalty per game for his career, it's safe to say the only "best" list that guy is going to land on is with the goons.
Meet Cody McLeod. He was in more fights than he had points this season. That should give you an idea about the kind of player he is.
Jared Boll is another player who fought more times than he was involved in a goal this past season. On a team like Columbus that isn't afraid to get involved in a scuffle, leading the way amongst the goons is impressive.
This one is a no-brainer. Ott has very little skill, but still dons the "A" for the Dallas Stars because of his leadership and willingness to stick up for his teammates.
Sometimes Ott takes things a bit too far, but his teammates would never complain about their alternate captain's methods.
The Detroit Red Wings are a team without a true goon. Anyone who has watched them play would not be the least bit surprised to hear that, either.
If there is a goon on Detroit's roster, Todd Bertuzzi is the guy. His physical play alones make him stick out as a Red Wing. Plus, his infamous hit on Steve Moore will never be forgotten. No matter how much time passes or how much he changes, that will be the defining moment of Bertuzzi's career.
Finishing third in the league in penalty minutes, Theo Peckham had little trouble taking the honors of being the biggest goon on the Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers have a lot invested in the future of their franchise with young stars Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. That makes Theo Peckham even more important. The two youngsters will have an easier transition to the NHL knowing that Theo has their back.
With the departure of Darcy Hordichuk, the Florida Panthers have a vacancy for the team goon.
Ryan Carter seems like a decent bet to step into that role. Second on the team with 66 penalty minutes, Carter will have to get into a few more fights
Ten times as many penalty minutes as points makes Kyle Clifford an instant goon. Preseason, regular season, or postseason, Clifford is on the ice to scrap, and not much else.
On a roster littered with muckers and grinders, Brad Sraubitz stands out as the true goon of the bunch. He fought fifteen times a year ago, which is a very respectable amount, but it's how often he seems to dominate that fights that is most noteworthy.
It's tough to call any player on the Montreal Candiens a goon, because being a goon requires one to have a bit of toughness. As a team the Canadiens fought over 30 times this past season, but no individual hit double digits.
However, P.K. Subban seems to be a goon in the making. He is constantly trash talking and even lets the fists fly once in a while.
At just 5'9'', most people wouldn't expect Jordin Tootoo to be much of a goon. However, despite his lack of size and solid all-around skill set, Tootoo isn't afraid to fill that role for the defensively oriented Nashville Predators.
With talented players like Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise on the roster, having a player like David Clarkson, who is willing to take a beating for the finesse players, is all the more important.
Clarkson let out the frustrations of a losing season to the tune of 116 penalty minutes this past year.
The New York Islanders take home the honor of being the goon squad during the 2010-2011 season. The Islanders fought 68 times as a team, most of which were a shameless ploy to fill the seats.
Zenon Konopka led the way with 25 fights, more than some entire teams had all year. His 307 penalty minutes were tops in the league.
Having long been one of the most widely renowned goons and agitators, Sean Avery was an easy choice for the Rangers' spot on this list.
Avery continues to rack up the penalty minutes, talk trash, and get caught up in the occasional brawl. It's who he is, and he's never going to change.
Chris Neil is a highly respected and tenured goon in the National Hockey League. He is in the business of getting under the opponent's skin, and Neil is as effective as anybody in the industry. Neil's 210 penalty minutes were enough for second in the entire NHL.
If he looks like a goon, and he smells like a goon than, damnit, he is a goon.
Does anyone in the league look more like a goon than Scott Hartnell did during the 2010 NHL Playoffs? Even without the flow and beard, Hartnell still has the mug of a goon, without a doubt.
Not many goons can fill that role, make four million dollars, and put up 49 points in a season. Hartnell does, and he is instrumental to Philly's success.
Among the mouthiest players in the NHL, Paul Bissonnette does an admirable job filling the role of a tough guy for the Phoenix Coyotes.
One of the few players on the team that actually fights, Bissonnette does enough fighting for the rest of the team combined, and talks loud enough to be heard around the league, despite playing in Phoenix.
Alright, Matt Cooke didn't even come close to leading the scrappy Penguins in fights or penalty minutes a season ago. But that doesn't mean he isn't a headhunter and a goon.
Cooke has struck down on quite a few big name players and makes a living inflicting pain. That's the definition of a goon.
Hits and penalty minutes are two tell-tale signs of a goon. Ryan Clowe was over the century mark in both categories this season, despite missing seven games to injury.
On a team of skilled players, Clowe's role as an enforcer is even more valuable.
B.J. Crombeen has amassed over 150 penalty minutes in each of the last two seasons, and over 120 in the last three. For his career, Crombeen is a penalty per game type of player.
It's safe to say that Crombeen is the town goon of St. Louis.
A lot of times, penalty minutes statistics can be inflated by a high volume of fights. That's not the case with Steve Downie.
Of Downie's 171 penalty minutes this season, only 35 came because the scrappy winger dropped the gloves. That leaves Downie with 136 minutes without fighting, meaning he is an incredible hack.
Colton Orr is the ultimate goon. He only played in 46 games this season, but the Leafs' enforcer still had over 120 penalty minutes, marking the fifth straight time he has done so.
Orr is now approaching 1,000 career penalty minutes, and he isn't even thirty.
The Vancouver Canucks lost their top two goons this offseason in Raffi Torres and Tanner Glass, so the club will be looking for someone to step into that role going forward.
Aaron Rome seems like a solid candidate after his cheap shot on Nathan Horton in the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals. He isn't highly skilled and is willing to walk the line when it comes to acceptable hits. I see a goon in the making.
Matt Hendricks is just breaking into the league, but the fact that he fought 14 times a year ago has to make Alex Ovechkin sleep just a little bit sounder.
Tanner Glass was not picked up by the Jets for his skill in the offensive zone. Nope. Glass was signed to play in Winnipeg to do one thing -- fight.