We had some fun on Twitter last week in the wake of the Patrick Roy glass incident, wondering out loud which coach fans would like to see the Avs bench boss take on in a real fight. Overwhelmingly the answer was Vancouver head man John Tortorella. I have to think most of that comes from his combative nature as a coach, but dig into the stats and you’ll find that ‘Torts’ amassed 153 PIM in his final season of playing with the Atlantic Coast League’s Virginia Lancers. But which coach is actually the toughest in the NHL?
Here’s the Magnificent Seven:
Craig Berube, Philadelphia: In the wake of Peter Laviolette’s firing in Philly, his replacement takes the top spot. Berube was one of the NHL’s heavyweights in the 1990s.
Alain Vigneault, New York Rangers: While toiling in the minors, the current Rangers coach had to dish some out on a regular basis. His busiest season came with Salt Lake City in 1981-82 when he racked up 266 PIM in 64 games.
Lindy Ruff, Dallas: Had a strong outing against one of roughest in the 1980s, Chris Nilan. A tough NHL defenseman for years, his cop moustache still makes his look intimidating to this day.
Kevin Dineen, Florida: Fought in his final NHL game just to get on the scoresheet, so you know he’s good to go whenever. Also, coaching in Florida tends to ball up fists a lot quicker anyway.
Dallas Eakins, Edmonton: A Twitter favorite thanks to his legendary fitness these days, Eakins actually had some fight in him during his playing career, too. He went two rounds with Matthew Barnaby as a member of the Panthers and came out on top.
Claude Julien, Boston: The year after Vigneault’s Salt Lake experience, Julien put up 176 PIM for the Golden Eagles.
Darryl Sutter, Los Angeles: Sure, the Kings coach fought during his NHL days, but it’s his cool, detached demeanor now that makes me think he could end a bar fight as quickly as it started.