A note from the enforcer factory


Boogaard, Rypien, and Belak, too, were each well liked and respected. They will be unfairly lumped together because of their deaths rather than their lives — they were different players in different circumstances — but the common theme after their departures was how much each of them was loved.

…There, the three lost fighters can be more truly linked. They shared the same geography. Boogaard and Belak were from Saskatoon, with its wide streets and bronze statue of Gordie Howe, his elbows up. Rypien was born and died in tiny Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. (Grimson is from British Columbia, played his junior hockey in Regina, and began his education at the University of Manitoba.) They were all Big Sky kids.

As sentimental as it might sound, Westerners really are shaped by their landscape. The expanses of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and eastern Alberta, giving way first to folds, then hills, then mountains …

“Living there makes you humble,” Grimson says. “You spend every day of your life humbled by nature.”

That’s why Western Canada is an enforcer factory, why it continues to produce these men so well versed in the lost farm-boy arts. Being a hockey fighter requires bravery and balance and fast hands and a strong chin. But perhaps more than anything else, it requires humility. It requires reconciliation, an understanding of the limits placed on every one of us.

Chris Jones, “The Survivor”, Grantland.com

Percentage of Canadian NHL players born in Ontario in 2010-11: 40%

Percentage born in Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba: 33%

Origins of the 38 NHL players with 10 or more fighting majors in 2010-11: Ontario 21, USA 7, Prairie Provinces 7, B.C., Newfoundland, and P.E.I. 1 apiece

Busiest fighter in the NHL in 2010-11: George Parros

Parros’s hometown: Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania

Parros’ major at Princeton University, where he played NCAA hockey for four years: farm-boy arts (just kidding: it was economics)

Of 530 total fights by NHL players with 10 or more fighting majors in 2010-11, number conducted by Ontarians: 291 (58%)

Number conducted by Americans: 115 (23%)

Number conducted by Prairie boys: 87 (17%)

Number conducted by Alberta-born players: 0 (0%)


A note from the enforcer factory

  1. So, how bout just being really big ( I know Rypien wasn’t)

  2. There you go, ruining a perfectly good narrative with facts.  There’s no place for that kind of behaviour in modern journalism.

  3. Could you please, please, gather your colleagues, both at Maclean’s and everywhere else, descend on every journalism school, and rip out the pages of the textbook that talk about ‘creating a narrative’?

    Tell what happened, don’t tell a story of what you think should/could/might/ have happened!  Better yet, find something that everybody else ISN’T talking about, and talk about that.  In such a way a) we’ll get more news and b) you won’t feel compelled to look ‘from another angle’ at the same story over and over.

  4. This is possibly the most gauche and embarrassing thing ever written in Canada.

  5. Greatest farn-boy artist from Canada is one Jon Vickers, born sixth in a family of eight children  in Prince Albert.  He remains today one of the world’s most admired Heldentenor in the history of recorded music and the best example of Wagner’s Siegmund (Die Walküre).  A member of Royal Covent Garden, he performed at Bayreuth, the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staats …

    I have read all that is available on Vickers, seen all interviews and he has to be the most artsy-fartsy artist ever.  Now there’s a strong man who takes art very seriously.  “I consider myself a very humble, simple boy from a small town who loves the soil, who loves the farm, and I happen to be a singer.” If there is a myth-buster to the  left-right  prism view the world on urban liberal liking for art it’s Jon Vickers.


    Opera fans will be celebrating Mr. Vickers 85th birthday this October.

  6. I believe it was Ludwig Bemelman’s who said, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

  7. Interesting how there are no goons from Quebec.

    • But there are really, really irritating “agitators” like Maxim Lapierre.  I’m not sure which is worse . . .

  8. Shouldn’t all this “Number of _______(enforcers, goal scorers, etc.,) NHLers from ___________(province, state, nation, etc.,)” be normalized for population? i.e., per capita