call me coach

When Peter Laviolette was fired as coach of the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday, Craig Berube took his place. Is Berube the first goon to find his way behind the bench as a head coach in the NHL?

That would depend, probably, on your sensitivity to the word “goon.” The Hockey Hall of Fame’s online manifest of players won’t go there: playing for six NHL teams, Berube was an “an enforcer and grinder.” The authors of a new book call him “a tough customer” — though, to be fair, Greg Oliver’s and Richard Kamchen’s catalogue of creative synonyms is called Don’t Call Me Goon: Hockey’s Greatest Enforcers, Gunslingers, and Bad Boys (ECW).

Out in the wider archival outback, Berube stands as:

• “left goon” (Buffalo News, 1992)
• “Philly goon” (The Morning Call, 1989)
• “Flames goon” (Buffalo News, 2001)
• “the Flyers’ resident goon” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1999)
• “a certifiable goon” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1989)

and

• “the pride of Calahoo, Alta.” (Toronto Star, 2000).

The numbers show that, in his playing days, Berube sat out 3,149 NHL penalty minutes in 1,054 regular-season games, with another 211 in the playoffs. That makes him the seventh penalizedest player in the league’s history. The only man ahead of him on the players’ list to have coached in the NHL is Washington’s Dale Hunter.

Which, I guess, makes him the first of the coaching …. “policemen”?

The top of the tally of coaches who, as players, most often broke the rules of the game looks like this:

1. Dale Hunter, Washington (1,407 games/3,565 PIMs, regular season; 186/729, playoffs)
2. Craig Berube, Philadelphia (1,054/3,149, regular season; 89/211, playoffs)
3. Terry O’Reilly, Boston (891/2095, regular season; 108/335, playoffs)
4. Ted Lindsay, Detroit (1,068/1,808, regular season; 133/194, playoffs)
5. Dan Maloney, Toronto, Winnipeg (737/1,489, regular season; 40/35, playoffs)
6. Keith Magnuson, Chicago (589/1,442, regular season; 68/164, playoffs)
7. Randy Carlyle, Anaheim, Toronto (1,055/1,400, regular season; 69/120, playoffs)
8. Colin Campbell, NY Rangers (636/1,292 , regular season; 45/181, playoffs)
9. John Ferguson, NY Rangers, Winnipeg (500/1,214, regular season;85/260, playoffs)
10. Jim Schoenfeld, Buffalo, New Jersey, Washington, Phoenix (719/1,132, regular season; 75/151, playoffs)