Goons are quickly becoming extinct in the NHL. After years of reports on head injuries, concussions, and depression, the pestilence players have been demoted for their own safety. Bummed but not bruised.
The announcement glares from the hockey headlines that the Fourth Line needs skill, not sucker punches.
When a head coach puts a goon out on the top line to take a face-off, it can only mean one thing: an all out brawl. Goons know that is their workload. Goons starting the game sends a clear message to the opponent. However, it’s not a sportsmanlike message but a dirty one.
Goons are not to be confused with the Agitator or the Enforcer. Agitators skillfully stir up trouble, Enforcers fight when it’s a necessity. Both have a skill beyond the fighting. Goons were the guys who could typically skate and play, but the skill level wasn’t at the highest. Often, the Goons got their spot on the roster because of their brutality. There just isn’t enough room on the bench for the Goon in today’s game.
Sure, we’ve seen Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby fight, but he’s not known for that. Crosby isn’t a Goon.
Detroit Red Wings Niklas Kronwall is known for his hits per his namesake. Kronwall- not a Goon.
Agitators are forwards like Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler who likes to taunt players into starting something. Kesler isn’t a Goon, but some would debate that.
The NHL has drawn a larger audience and the demographics have changed. Youth leagues will not tolerate the fighting and expect a higher level of skill in all areas of the game. Women’s leagues are flourishing, and that’s all breadth of skill. The popularity of the NHL and its affiliates challenge the game to become more than just pond hockey.
Who is your favorite Goon?