Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Ken Baumgartner Chronicles

By ILB's (aka Rory) at Fried Chicken's Hockey Fight Site.

“We had a pretty tough team at the time, but anytime you're facing off against Mick Vukota and Ken Baumgartner you always have to have your head up." Mark Janssens on the infamous linebrawl between the Islanders and Rangers.

"Rod Dallman: Ken was and wanted to be the heavyweight of the league and he really knew how to go about that also. He was more of an intimidator. There were times that all he had to do was skate by a crowd on the ice and smile and it was enough to let the opposition know he was around. I guess you could say that he terrorized the league [WHL]. He definitely made a point of going out and fighting everyone that he heard was tough or thought that they were. He wanted to let everyone know that it was his league and no one else’s."

"The Bomber knows his role very well. He’ll stick up for his teammates and do anything for his team – and a very astute man also." - Tony Twist

"The Bomber could take a punch and could throw with equal skill with both hands. He taught me the importance of being ambidextrous." - Jacques Mailhot"

This one is going out to Mike who had asked me to do a thread on the Bomber awhile ago and while I had it on the back of my mind as a project, I finally got around to getting everything finished. I always appreciated the Bomber back when he played but I didn't realize how good of a fighter that he actually was until I sat down and watched his tapes. Man was he good - and I will say that I do think that his power is underrated. Everything speaks about Baumgartner as a great technical fighter (which he is), but I was surprised at how many TKO's/KO's and bloodied opponents that he had on his resume. Very impressive stuff - on that note, here is my tribute to the Bomber, Ken Baumgartner.

Ken Baumgarter was a product of Flin Flon, Manitoba, a small town in Northern Manitoba that has produced its fair share of tough guys. The Bomber played his Juniors career in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders and quickly established himself as one of the toughest guys in the WHL. I don't have any of his WHL footage on tape, other than the incredibly famous brawl at the Memorial Cup where Baumgartner fought Bob Probert in a wild brawl that spilled into the penalty box. Here's the clip:

After finishing up his Juniors career, Baumgartner was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres and played for parts of two seasons with the New Haven Nighthawks, before his professional rights were picked up by the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings brought him up for 30 games in January and Baumgartner was BUSY. Here's a clip of his first official NHL fight which occurred during a partial linebrawl against Craig Wolanin/

The Bomber's first real NHL heavyweight test though would come in the form of entertaining Canucks fighter Craig Coxe of wide open "you punch me, I punch you" school of fighting. This one was a BEAUTY, no point in describing it blow by blow. Here's the clip, enjoy it for yourself:

Baumgartner then fought a tough customer in Marty McSorely and while it was a hell of a fight, McSorely took the clear decision. Baumgartner then fought Rod Buskas and while it was mostly a grapplefest, the Bomber did land a solid shot that cut Buskas and opened him up. Here's the clip:

Baumgartner than had an absolute slugfest with an underrated Herb Raglan that was a real war. Great toe to toe scrap which can't be scored anything but a draw. Took on Ronnie Stern in a short fight where he landed a dandy punch that looked to draw blood, then had a wrestling match with Kevin McClelland before tagging Sergio Mommesso with a beauty left that dropped Momesso for the bigtime TKO. The next victim on the Bombers agenda would be legendary Bruins tough guy Lyndon Byers. This one started off the face-off and Byers was beating Baumgartner before Baumgartner took over landing several lefts and put Byers into the turtle/cover up position. Here's the clip:

Baumgartner then had a two fight series with Peter Bakovic. The first fight wasn't very much as the camera didn't get there quickly enough to pick up anything and Baumgartner was just on top of Backovic. The second fight was different as the Bomber looks to smoke Bakovic with a nasty left along the boards and the zebras jump in immediately. I scored it a TKO. Then after this Baumgarter fought Gerald Diduck and after a nice even exchange, the Bomber got his left hand free and tagged Diduck with two dandy lefts that dropped Diduck to the ice with a nasty cup on his forehead. Back to back TKOs for Baumgartner. Baumgartner's next scrap was a wild back and forth exchange with Dirk Graham that I scored an edge for Baumgartner but I wouldn't argue against a draw.

The next game was a 3 fight marathon night for Baumgartner as he fought Shane Churla on two separate occasions and Tim Hunter as well - Talk about earning your money for being a rookie enforcer! I called the first two fights against Churla as solid draws while the fight with Hunter was a win for Baumgartner. Here's a clip of all of Baumgartner's scraps against Churla:

The Hunter fight was awesome as both guys were going with the lefts and each landed some hard punches although I thought Bomber landed better, specifically with one terrific left uppercut which clearly hurt Hunter. Baumgartner then tried Churla in a rematch from their two fight game from a week before and clearly got the better of the exchange landing a couple of decent lefts while not absorbing anything telling from Churla. Baumgartner ended his stellar rookie season with a fight in a linebrawl against Jim Peplinski of the Flames. Here's the clip of the brawl:


Baumgartner started the season off on the right note with a beating of Gary Roberts and followed that one up with another beatdown on Don Nachbauer pounding him mercilessly with rights. Had a very uninspired two fight game against the New Jersey Devils taking on Jimmy "Cracked" Korn and Jamie Huscroft in two grapplefests before beating Jay Caufield in a fight that was mostly in tight wrestling. Then took on Kris King after he had run King from behind and King landed a couple of wild punches to take the "win" in what was more of a mugging than anything. The Bomber than beat both Kevin McClelland and Warren Rychel before taking a tough loss to powerforward extraordinaire Cam Neely. This was a wild swinging fight and Neely drilled Baumgartner with a great shot that dropped him for the flash TKO but the Bomber got right back up. Both guys were bleeding as they were led to the box. Bomber's night wasn't over yet though as he took on Bruins tough guy Lyndon Byers in a nice scrap. Baumgartner landed some solid lefts in this scrap in fact he ended up breaking Byers' orbital bone in this fight and Byers was forced to spend the night in the Mass Eye and Ear Hospital which was in back of the old Garden. Bomber then took on Craig Berube and Berube caught him flush to the face with a big time right that dropped Baumgartner for the flash TKO. Here's the clip of the fight:

The next opponent on the list would be Kelly Buchberger. These two had been sticking each other and Bucky turned around and dropped the gloves and they had a quick go. Not much happened here as they were in close. Here's the clip:

The last action that Baumgartner would see this season would be in a brawl against the Calgary Flames. Ken Sabourin of the Flames had drilled Gretzky with a hard hit and then Tim Hunter also gave Gretzky a shot and this sent the Bomber off the deep end. Baumgartner ended up fighting Gary Roberts and beating him and leaving him bloody and beat the snot out of Theoren Fleury, breaking his nose and leaving a bloody mess everywhere. Baumgartner was on a mission that night. Here are a couple of articles detailing the brawl:

Hockey Notebook
Jim Matheson. Edmonton Journal. Mar 25, 1989.


When all hell broke loose in Thursday's Calgary-LA game (the teams had 866 penalty minutes in the eight games), Baumgartner was furious at Tim Hunter for knocking down Wayne Gretzky for no reason. "When (Ken) Sabourin hit Gretzky (to start a lot of wrestling), we realized that his kind of hit is part of the game. But we had to come over as a show of force, to show it wouldn't be tolerated. Tim Hunter coming over, though, and hitting Gretzky again, that's a challenge. He looked right at me, like 'what are you going to do about this?' " said Baumgartner. The weird thing about all this: Hunter ended up clobbering Steve Duchesne and Baumgartner made short work of little Theoren Fleury when the fireworks resumed.

Otto's pursuit of freedom is costly
Eric Duhatschek. Calgary Herald. Mar 25, 1989.

Joel Otto - eyes perplexed, face set in a quizzical `who me?' expression - tried to understand the commotion.

"Did it really look like I hit the official?" asked Otto. "I just tried to get away, that's all."

Someone - referee Bill McCreary and/or supervisor of officials Bryan Lewis - apparently disagreed.

Otto broke one of the National Hockey League's more stringent rules: Do not fold, spindle, mutilate or otherwise tamper with the officials.

It happened in Thursday's 4-2 National Hockey League win over Los Angeles Kings when Otto fell on top of linesman Ron Finn, grabbed him by the jersey and shook him up and down a number of times.

Otto received an automatic three-game suspension under Rule 67 which governs the physical abuse of officials.

There is a slim possibility that president John Ziegler could review the tape and increase the length of Otto's suspension.

"I don't think that'll happen," said general manager Cliff Fletcher. "We looked at the tape. The tape shows nothing."

In describing the incident, Otto said he told Finn to "let go" because he was getting repeatedly pummelled by the Kings' Jim Wiemer.

"I was ticked off," Otto said. "They weren't really doing their job. He hit me twice from under the pile. One came through and then about 20 seconds later, another one came through and hit me in the nose.

"I got a little mad. I just wanted to get back at (Wiemer). I wasn't trying to do anything to the official."

Kings' defenceman Dean Kennedy, nearest player to the fight, said Otto, "kind of lost it a bit. He kind of flipped out, but I don't think he hit him . . . He could have, but he didn't. He was trying to get away from him."

The play in question began when Otto brushed Kelly Hrudey as he skated between the Kings' goaltender and the post.

"I didn't see him hit the official," said Hrudey, "but I saw him throwing him around. That's not a good sight. I don't think that's legal."

When asked to comment further, Hrudey replied: "I could say more, but who cares? It's their problem, not mine. Whatever he gets is good for him. I could care less. He knows the rules."

Flames' coach Terry Crisp was upset with the speed of the league's decision. The last time the teams met, a 9-3 Calgary win in Los Angeles, Kings' winger Marty McSorley repeatedly punched linesman Kevin Collins in an attempt to hit the Flames' Tim Hunter and got away with it.

"I'm trying to figure out where they're coming from on this," said Crisp, rubbing a hand over his face, shaking his head. "I watched the whole thing. I don't know. I guess I need to find an optometrist pretty quick and get my glasses changed - because I don't understand how all this stuff can go on around us.

"A guy (McSorley) suckers three guys and goes completely ape and he gets the same suspension as a man (Gary Roberts) who stands there and holds a guy off and does nothing. I don't know where it all equals out.

"You start to get a little amazed at what we can do with our game sometimes."

The Otto-Wiemer matchup capped a rough night of hockey in which McCreary assessed 193 minutes in penalties, bringing the total for the eight-game season series to a whopping 866 minutes.

Kings' defenseman Ken Baumgartner set off the night's major melee by challenging Flames' rookie defenseman Ken Sabourin, who had bodychecked Wayne Gretzky into the boards.

By the time McCreary sorted things out, four players - Hunter and Roberts from Calgary, Baumgartner and Jay Miller from L.A. - were ejected from the game. Because of their accumulation of misconducts, Hunter and Baumgartner were automatically suspended for two games, Roberts and Miller for one.

Baumgartner especially took exception to a little bump that Hunter put on Gretzky that knocked the Kings' centre to the ice.

"He (Hunter) kind of looked at me like: `What are you going to do about this?' " he said. "I took it as a direct challenge. It was a challenge to the whole bench. You can't do it any better than that. It can't be any more obvious.

"We'll deal with him (Hunter) later. Sabourin is still on the list and Hunter, he's always been there."

Of his bump on Gretzky, Hunter replied: "Baumgartner bumps (Mike) Vernon. I did the same thing to Gretzky. I stuck out my chest and he went down like a stick man. What's Baumgartner doing talking to Vernon anyway? If they play around with Vernon, we'll play around with Gretzky.


Started off the season on a winning note with a win over Allan Kerr before besting Lou Crawford in what would be his last fight as a LA King. Baumgartner was then traded to the New York Islanders and in his first fight with the Isles, Bomber beat the snot out of Ed Kastelic before dominating Dave Maley and TKOing Paul Gillis in short order. Tried fighting Troy Loney but it never really got going, and then took on Alan May where both guys went lefty and Bomber landed the better shots to take the narrow win. Baumgartner then beat up Duane Sutter during a partial linebrawl. Tony Horacek was next on the agenda and it was a good fight with both guys landing some dandies and it ended with Baumgartner dropping Horacek to his knees and the zebras getting in quickly. Baumgartner then took on Joey Kocur in a nice fight. Both guys exchanged lefts and rights behind the net in a very even exchange. I called the fight a draw, but you can decide for yourselves, here's the clip:

Baumgartner then took on his old rival Tim Hunter and out-pointed him a close scrap that featured alot of grappling back and forth. Baumgartner's last scrap of the season was the infamous linebrawl against the New York Rangers where he beat the piss out of Kris King who was VERY unwilling to trade punches with the Bomber. Here are some articles about the brawl in question:

Published: April 8, 1990
Football, cold and methodical and filled with prediagramed collisions, produces more serious injuries. Boxing, ''the sweet science,'' is clearly more dangerous, with constant punches to the head and body often damaging the vital organs.
But it is hockey, with its occasional brawling, sticking incidents and its sometimes unbridled passion, that is perceived by much of the public to be the most violent of spectator sports.
That perception was heightened this week after the ugly incident at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night during a Stanley Cup playoff game between the Rangers and the Islanders. Change in Attitude? The aftermath - swift and harsh sanctions against those judged responsible - may signal a subtle and important change in how the sport polices itself and where its attitude is moving in the 1990's. Then again, the National Hockey League's vigorous justice might be only a result of something happening in its biggest market before the angry eyes of the league president in high-profile tournament play.
Nevertheless, the question is intriguing: Is fighting, especially when it is premeditated and used as a part of strategy, going out of fashion?
''The beauty, the effort, the discipline, the dedication and the skill that had been invested was trashed by a complete lack of respect for N.H.L. rules and principles,'' John Ziegler, the president of the league, said in an unusually blunt statement Friday afternoon.
His comments came after he suspended one Islander player, Mick Vukota, for 10 games and another, Ken Baumgartner, for one. He also fined the team $25,000 and its coach, Al Arbour, $5,000, for the brawl that began at the end of Thursday's game, won by the Rangers, 2-1.

Islanders to Appeal
Yesterday, Bill Torrey, the general manager of the Islanders, said in a statement through his public relations department that he would appeal the league's ruling.
''If people would search the history of past incidents, the league has been responsive to the timing of them,'' Ziegler said yesterday through a spokesman. ''In the playoffs, we have always made decisions more quickly. People are more available. All these cases depend on circumstances. If it happened in Los Angeles or in Calgary, it would have been difficult to do it as quickly.
''It may appear that this was done more quickly, but we are not doing anything differently.''

'A Serious Situation'
Brian O'Neill, the N.H.L. executive vice president, who held the hearing with Ziegler, said yesterday that he didn't wish to speculate about premeditation in this incident.
''This is a serious situation,'' he said, in a telephone interview from Buffalo. ''I don't want to add to it.''
But, in general, he said: ''I'm not going to say to you that some fights are not there as tactics. In some cases, this does happen and that's an issue that has to be addressed. This particular case is a perfect example of how the league does not encourage fighting and has instituted several rules to deal with it. Some of what we consider stupid incidents and fighting have no place in the game.''
In retrospect, Thursday's brawl seems to have been inevitable. During the days before the New York-New York series, fans, reporters and players discussed the history of the rivalry between the teams and the occasional injuries and violence.
''These two teams,'' said Vukota, ''have been brought up to hate each other.''
Thursday's brawl took place shortly after Pat LaFontaine, the Islanders' skilled and gentlemanly star, was carried from the ice on a stretcher with a concussion. The injury occurred on a body check by James Patrick of the Rangers that was unpenalized and, most players and observers said, legal.
A few minutes later, with 2 seconds left in the game, the Islanders lined up for a face-off by sending out Vukota and Baumgartner, both of whom have extensive penalty records for fighting. Unlike most players, who stand still before the puck is dropped, Baumgartner skated energetically, back and forth, like a predatory fish looking for a victim.

That's Hockey, Says Nicholls
''Baumgartner was kind of foaming,'' said Bernie Nicholls of the Rangers. ''Mick Vukota was looking for somebody. Anybody surprised by that doesn't know hockey.''
Roger Neilson, the Ranger coach, sent out Chris Nilan and Kris King, two of his frequent fighters. The puck was dropped, the last 2 seconds ticked off the clock, and the fights began. But instead of engaging one of the Rangers' usual enforcers, Vukota sought out Jeff Bloemberg, who refuses to fight, and punched him repeatedly.

Ranger fans showered the ice with debris and many in the seats shouted profanities at the Islanders and their coach.
John D'Amico, the N.H.L.'s supervisor of officials on duty for this series, said the referee, Don Koharski, could have done little to prevent what obviously was brewing.
''As an official, you sense something that is going to happen, but you cannot stop players from coming on the ice,'' said D'Amico, a second-year supervisor who spent 24 years as a linesman.

Supervisor Doesn't Mind
''I don't know if the league is cracking down on fighting or not,'' D'Amico said. ''Myself, I feel nothing is wrong with a fight in a heated game. The league is cracking down on activities before the game, between the periods and after the games. I don't think the N.H.L. is out to hang anybody. I'd rather see two guys fight that two guys swinging their sticks.''
That traditional N.H.L. argument - that fistfighting is a relatively safe and spontaneous outlet for frustration and aggression - was difficult to justify after Thursday's nonspontaneous brawl.
Moreover, there is a growing attitude among some players that fighting should be banned. Ever since the Flyers ruled the league as the Broad Street Bullies in the mid-1970's, most N.H.L. teams have hired two or three players whose best skills are fighting. Still, most N.H.L. players rarely fight. A small number of players have a disproportionate share of major fighting penalties.
Twenty years ago, most N.H.L. players were from Canada and played as teen-agers in Canadian junior leagues, where fighting is tolerated. In recent years, the N.H.L. has been hiring a growing percentage of players from American colleges and European leagues, where fighting is harshly penalized with automatic suspensions.
Among the N.H.L.'s leading conscientious objectors are Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings and Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins, both among the top players in the game, both Canadians from Canadian junior leagues.
Gretzky, in particular, has become more outspoken about fighting since moving to Los Angeles from Edmonton before last season and being exposed to the difference in the attitudes between American and Canadian fans.
''We have such a poor image in California and the United States, just because we allow fighting,'' Gretzky told Ken Dryden in ''Home Game,'' Dryden's book about hockey in Canada. ''We don't need it any more.''

The Islanders' chances to get back into their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Rangers were diminished today when the condition of Pat LaFontaine was listed as doubtful for Game 3 on Monday night at the Coliseum.
The Islanders' chances to get back into their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Rangers were diminished today when the condition of Pat LaFontaine was listed as doubtful for Game 3 on Monday night at the Coliseum.
The Islanders lost the first two games of the Patrick Division semifinal at Madison Square Garden, where LaFontaine suffered what the team called a moderate concussion in the opener on Thursday night.
On Saturday night, before the Rangers won by 5-2, LaFontaine had been listed as questionable, but neither played nor attended the game.
Mark Aldridge, the Islanders' trainer, said today that LaFontaine was suffering from ''post-concussion syndrome.''
''His reflexes are a little slow,'' Aldridge said. ''He still has headaches. He gets queasy when he bends over to tie his shoes.''

'50-50 or Zero'
LaFontaine wanted to attend practice today but was told by his doctor to stay home, Aldridge said. But LaFontaine may participate in the morning skate on Monday.
Al Arbour, the coach of the Islanders, said LaFontaine's chances of playing were ''50-50 or, maybe, zero.''
LaFontaine, who led the Islanders in goals with 54, was knocked unconscious late in the first game when checked by James Patrick. That game ended with fights that resulted in a $25,000 fine to the Islanders, a $5,000 fine to Arbour, a 10-game suspension of Mick Vukota of the Islanders and a one-game suspension of Ken Baumgartner of the Islanders.
Saturday's game had no similar outbreaks of violence, although major stick fouls were called against Mark Fitzpatrick, the Islanders' goalie, Jeff Norton, an Islander defenseman, and Normand Rochefort, a Ranger defenseman. All were ejected from the game.

The Unfortunate Pacifist
The Islanders are appealing the fines and Arbour said he would have no comment on the fines or on the harsh words of John Ziegler, the National Hockey League president, who called the Islanders' behavior in Game 1 disgraceful. Arbour did say he was tired of people ''dumping on us,'' but he wasn't specific about who is doing the dumping.
Arbour said Baumgartner, a defenseman who has played a few shifts at forward, ''might resurface there.'' Baumgartner, with one goal and 222 penalty minutes in the regular season, said he was tired of ''propaganda'' being used against the Islanders in recent days, particularly charges that Vukota shouldn't have repeatedly punched the head of Jeff Bloemberg of the Rangers, who is a religious person who does not fight.
''Mick was not aware of Bloemberg's religious convictions,'' Baumgartner said. ''It's unfortunate that Mr. Bloemberg was a pacifist, but we didn't know about that. He's a big kid.''

Avoiding 'Dumb Penalties'
Reflecting on LaFontaine's injury, Baumgartner said: ''Whether or not it's a clean hit, he's our star player. Look where it's put us now.'' ''With Paddy out, we don't have the firepower to wheel with them,'' Baumgartner said of the Rangers. ''So we have to check them. If it gets ugly on occasion, and that's what it takes to win, so be it.''
Baumgartner, Arbour and a chorus of Islanders said they had to avoid ''dumb penalties,'' like some of those they took in Game 2. Although nobody singled him out for criticism, there was an obvious inference to Fitzpatrick, who was cited by the officials for ''butt-ending'' Troy Mallette in the second period.
Fitzpatrick hit Mallette with his stick after Bryan Trottier had dumped him in front of the net with a holding penalty. At the time, the Islanders trailed by 4-2. Although they killed off the two minutes of the two-man disadvantage, they were victimized by the Rangers' power play near the end of Fitzpatrick's penalty as Patrick's goal at 11:35 gave the home team its commanding, three-goal lead.
Fitzpatrick said today that Mallette, Kris King and Mark Janssens of the Rangers were ''cement heads'' who ''try to take me off my game'' with distraction tactics.
''They've been getting me rattled,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I have too much talent to get mixed up with that stuff. It's over and done with.'' Arbour did not say who would play in goal Monday night. Greg Bouris, the public relations director of the Islanders, said extra security would be in force at the Coliseum and that beer sales would be cut off after the first intermission, instead of after the second, which is the normal cut-off point.


Baumgartner started the season off with a dominating performance over Alan Stewart knocking Stewart to the ice with some solid lefts, not a TKO but certainly a knockdown win. Then the Bomber took on Marty McSorely in a long drawn out battle that I felt Baumgarter got the better of - it was a very close fight but I thought Baumgartner landed the better shots. Here’s the clip:

The Bomber was then involved with Rick Tocchet in a famous mugging - Here's the clip of the incident:

Baumgartner recognizes his mistake
The Gazette. Montreal, Que. Dec 2, 1990.

Ken Baumgartner of the New York Islanders was the goat as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Islanders 5-1 Tuesday. The Flyers scored three times during a five-minute penalty assessed against Baumgartner for cutting Rich Tocchet with his stick during a fight.

"Hitting Tocchet was a stupid thing," Baumgartner said. "It cost the game and I feel badly about it. I was trying to throw a punch and my stick, which I had tried to drop, got tangled and hit him in the face and cut him."

Published: November 28, 1990
The Islanders paid dearly for Ken Baumgartner's pugnacity tonight. After Baumgartner, the team leader in penalty minutes, drew a five-minute major for fighting early in the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers scored the first three goals of the game during his absence and went on to a 5-1 victory at Nassau Coliseum.
Baumgartner was assessed the major penalty for drawing blood after punching Rick Tocchet at 4 minutes 24 seconds of the middle period.
"I didn't feel it was blatant; there were a lot of people there," Baumgartner said of the pile-up to the right of Glenn Healy, the goaltender for the Islanders. "I threw a left and it appeared that it hit him."
Pelle Eklund scored two of the Flyers' goals and Mike Ricci the other during the penalty to Baumgartner, who covered his face in despair after the third goal as he sat in the penalty box, with 53 seconds still left on his penalty.
"I try to play my role," said Baumgartner, the acknowledged policeman for the Islanders.
"He went down," he said of Tocchet, "and sometimes if you're not the first to swing, you'll be on the receiving end." Cut Over Eye Baumgartner took a swing with his glove on and caused a a cut over Tocchet's right eye that required four stitches. Tocchet didn't even make an attempt to fight back, so Andy van Hellemond, the referee, penalized Baumgartner only.
"You get a five-minute major for fighting when you jump someone and you don't stop punching," Baumgartner said. "I took a swing that hit a stick that hit his eye. How often do you cut a guy with a glove on? It hurt the team."
It was Ricci, a 18-year-old rookie center and the Flyers' first choice in the draft last June, who capitalized first on Baumgartner's penalty by getting his sixth goal of the season just 50 seconds after the start of the penalty.
Gord Murphy, who scored twice in the Flyers' 4-1 triumph over the Islanders at the Spectrum Sunday night, started the play that led to the goal with a blistering shot from inside the blue line. Tocchet managed to control Murphy's shot with his left skate and shoot on the turn as he pivoted to his right. Ricci tipped the puck in as he skated across the crease from right to left. 'Floodgates Opened'
Eklund's first goal came at 7:26 of the period, when Healy's clearing attempt found his stick directly in front instead. Eklund's second goal came 65 seconds later by on a tip of Terry Carkner's shot.
"They got the first goal after the penalty and the floodgates opened," said Coach Al Arbour of the Islanders. "I think we were mentally tired. We weren't into it."
When Mark Berube extended the lead to four goals with his second of the season just 12 seconds into the last session, it deflated the Islanders. All hope was lost for them when Keith Acton stretched the lead to five goals with his fifth of the season at 4 minutes 55 seconds.
Arbour made a change after Acton's goal. He sent in Jeff Hackett to take the place of Healy, who departed after allowing five goals on 27 shots. The Flyers let down considerably, allowing the Islanders to take control, but all the Islanders managed was Dave Chyzowski's goal with 4:53 left that spoiled the shutout for Pete Peeters (7-3-1).

After this Baumgartner had an uninspired draw with Craig Berube before drawing twice with Ed Kastelic in two uneventful fights - other than the fact that Baumgartner hit linesman Pat Dapuzzo in the face in the first grapplefest between the two fighters. Baumgartner then looked to drop Mike Peluso with some big time lefts for the TKO win, before edging both Serge Roberge and Darrin Kimble in forgettable bouts that didn't feature much action. Tried to fight Alan May twice in one game but neither fight ended up happening as on both occasions both fighters fell down before anything could develop. Very disappointing. What wasn't disappointing though was the two fight game that Bomber had with Tie Domi. The first fight was a decent tilt with each going with the lefts and typical Domi gets the fight going into the spin cycle. Bomber might have landed the slightly better shots before they got in tight along the boards and didn't separate for awhile. Here's the clip:

Baumgartner and Domi fought again during a linebrawl later that game and this time Domi took the clear win over Baumgartner landing a decent left and jerseying Bomber. Bomber was cut open slightly and Domi did the speedbag after the fight was over. After this Baumgartner tried Tim Hunter again but this time neither guy threw a punch, they simply wrestled and it was a nothing "fight." Bomber then edged Graeme Townshend before ending the season on a high note by destroying Shayne Stevenson, leaving him a bloody mess after eating several hard left hands.


The Bomber started the season off with a bang against the Boston Bruins - defeating Lyndon Byers and bloodying him in the process, while also taking the win over another legend in Chris Nilan in a fight that featured a lot of grappling. Here’s the clip of the fight:

Baumgartner then tried Tie Domi and Domi got going into his patented spin cycle and landed with a couple of nice left uppercuts and got the decision. Edged Mike Hartman in a wild swinging affair before taking the decision over "Cool Hand" Luke Richardson. Baumgartner then had a great fight with Randy McKay (a very underrated fighter) that I scored a draw before taking on Joey Kocur. Baumgartner seemed very leery of letting Kocur get his right hand jackhammer free and concentrated mostly on keeping that right tied up and took a loss because of it IMO. Here's the clip:

Baumgartner had another good fight with a personal favourite in Basil McRae that was probably an edge for the Bomber but I wouldn't argue against a draw. Baumgartner then had ANOTHER two fight game against Alan May and this time May caught him pretty good in the first fight with a bomb of a left that opened Baumgartner up and forced him to get stitches. Later in the game Baumgartner came back for some revenge and jumped May to get a tainted win in the second fight, before going on to beat Mike Peluso handily (again). Then in a game against the Flyers, Baumgartner beat the piss out of a non-fighter in Brad Jones, which caused a chain-reaction of violence - this meant that the Bomber would have to face the guy that many argue was the best fighter the NHL has ever seen in Dave Brown. An angry Dave Brown was not someone that you wanted to mess with and he was rather pissed in this fight and Baumgartner felt the wrath. Brown punished him and broke his orbital bone in the process. Here's the fight:

You have to give the Bomber a TON of credit though because less than 2 months after suffering this injury he was back fighting another legend in Craig Berube and although the fight itself wasn't much, the fact remained that the Bomber wasn't picking his spots after coming back from a major injury. In his second fight back Baumgartner was sticking up for his teammate Mick Vukota who was trying to get Tie Domi to fight. Bomber was after Domi as well who didn't want anything to do with either guy. Vukota went after Kris King and Domi suckered him so Bomber immediately grabbed Domi and landed a couple of punches before Domi immediately kicks the skates out from underneath the Bomber and then wants to fight. Another cheap and cowardly Domi moment - and after the fight he had the nerve to do his clown act for the fans. Garbage.

Baumgartner's last fight as an Islander was a close scrap against Basil McRae that I scored a win for the Bomber. Not long after this Baumgartner was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here's an article talking about the trade:

Published: March 11, 1992
Early last week, after the Islanders joined other National Hockey League teams in voting to authorize a strike, a group of reporters followed Ken Baumgartner into the locker room after practice in Nassau Coliseum to discuss the matter.
Not only is Baumgartner the team's representative to the N.H.L. Players Association, but he is also a member of the nine-player bargaining committee that is seeking a new collective bargaining agreement.
Bill Torrey, the Islanders' general manager who is also a member of the management bargaining committee, saw the group around Baumgartner and made a joke.
Knowing that Baumgartner's wife had just given birth to their first child, Torrey asked if the labor matters under discussion involved childbirth or union business.
Things got serious again yesterday. A day after Torrey and Baumgartner participated in a fruitless bargaining session with their committees in Manhattan, Torrey traded Baumgartner to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a four-man deal. Losing the Touch
Also going to Toronto was Dave McLlwain, a veteran forward. From the Leafs, the Islanders got Claude Loiselle, a veteran center, and Daniel Marois, a right wing whose scoring touch has vacated him this season. None of the four players were among front-line performers for their teams, which are both in fifth place in their respective divisions, near the bottom of the league over all.
But when union leaders in sports are traded during sensitive negotiations, it raises a question: Did union activity prompt management to trade an outspoken worker?
In this case, the answer is no, according to both Torrey and to Baumgartner's agent. Bob Murray, a Massachusetts lawyer who represents Baumgartner, said Baumgartner requested a trade early this season because he wasn't satisfied with his playing time as a part-time forward and part-time defenseman.
"This trade of Ken Baumgartner had absolutely, positively nothing to do with his activity in the Players Association," Murray said in a telephone interview. "A few months ago, Kenny and I talked with Bill Torrey. Things weren't going as well for Kenny in New York as Kenny would like.
"He did not demand to be traded, but asked Bill, if the opportunity arose to move Kenny to please do so. At one point, Bill said to me, 'Geez, if I trade him right at the deadline, people are going to think of everything else that's going on.' I told him, 'Look, we both know that's not the case. We will make sure that it gets out that the collective bargaining has nothing to do with it.' " Popular and Aggressive
Torrey confirmed that analysis, but not without another joke first.
"I traded him because I'm sick and tired of facing him across the bargaining table," he said, before becoming serious. Torrey said he was concerned with how Baumgatner's teammates would perceive the trade, adding that it had nothing to do with union business.
"You never like to give up a player like Bomber because he comes to play and he's popular and he's aggressive and he is entertaining to watch," Torrey said.
As he cleaned out his locker before Tuesday's game at the Coliseum, Baumgartner said: "I want this on the record: This has nothing to do with the collective bargaining agreement. I had a conversation with Mr. Torrey six weeks ago."
For McLlwain, a utility forward, this will be his fourth team of the season. He began the season with three games for Winnipeg, five for Buffalo and 54 for the Islanders, a team he joined Oct. 25 as part of the seven-player deal that sent Pat LaFontaine to the Sabres. This season, McLlwain has 9 goals and 16 assists for 25 points.
Baumgartner joined the Islanders from Los Angeles in November of 1989 to play the hockey role of enforcer. This season, he had no goals and one assist and 202 penalty minutes.


In his season debut with the Maple Leafs, Baumgartner got into a beauty scrap with Dennis Vial and got the win in a close fight. He was the only Leaf that won a fight that night, in a game that featured 4 scraps. Here's an article that mentions that fight and also talks about Baumgartner's lack of playing time (note it was written by Damien (Sucks) Cox:

Leafs 'enforcer' fighting for job
Damien Cox. Toronto Star. Nov 5, 1992.

They have become the kind of questions that are fast becoming politically incorrect in National Hockey League circles.

They are also the type that make Ken Baumgartner squirm just a bit.

With fist-fighting philosophically, if not literally, on the way out in the NHL with the advent of new rules, players traditionally regarded as enforcers have had to find new ways to describe the work they are hired to do.

Agitators, or "role" players, are the current catch phrases that are served up with a knowing wink.

Still, it goes without saying that some players are still paid to fight. When they don't, whispers begin to circulate as to the whys and wherefores. Can't they fight anymore? Don't they have the stomach any longer?

These are the quiet suggestions being made about Baumgartner these days. With only two fights under his belt in 16 regular- season games since coming to Toronto from the New York Islanders before last season's trade deadline, the Bomber has thus far not displayed either an interest or willingness in scrapping with more frequency.

It took time to recover from an injury to a bone in his face last season, he says, and the new rules have made it tougher to fight without hurting your team.

He's played in only five of Toronto's 12 games to date. When the team went to Detroit to play Bob Probert and the Wings last Friday, however, he was in the lineup. When they skate on to the Chicago Stadium ice surface tonight against the hard-rock Blackhawks, he'll be there.

He deflects the question of whether being used only in situations where he'll be called upon to protect his more timid teammates bothers him.

"I've learned to live with it," he said yesterday before boarding a team charter flight to the Windy City. "I'm still here, aren't I? They pay me well ($330,000 U.S.) to do it.

"Sure, I was surprised when I didn't play against Detroit at home after dropping the gloves in Detroit (against Dennis Vial) the night before. But I think I'll probably play more road games than home games."

Asked directly if he must fight more to stay in the Leaf lineup, Baumgartner again prefers not to confront the question head on. In fact, during a 15-minute interview, the articulate winger didn't use the word "fight" once.

"I've had a certain role all my career," he said diplomatically. "It's a role that I'll have to take with me to the last day I play.

"When you're young, it's important to establish your reputation. As you progress in the league, there are times when you can damage your reputation and hurt your team. As well, situations that existed five years ago don't exist anymore.

"You've seen a vast change in the game with the influx of Europeans, as well as new rules allowing talented players to freewheel. You have to be able to bring more to the game than your fists and I work constantly on other areas of the game."

Indeed, there was Baumgartner yesterday, working on his shot long after most of the Leafs had left for the dressing room. The Leaf coaching staff, however, is finding it difficult to use Baumgartner frequently because, more often than not, he is ineffective as a forward.

"Our goal is to make Kenny reliable on the ice," said Leaf assistant coach Mike Murphy. "We don't want him to give up much in our end of the rink and we also want to instill some offensive capabilities."

And fighting?

"Bomber's reputation is such that he doesn't always have to scrap," said Murphy. "He can verbally intimidate and he can intimidate by his presence. But yes, there are times when he has to answer the bell."

Head coach Pat Burns said he won't push Baumgartner to fight more, but implicit in his words was the message that he wants more toughness from the left winger.

"He has to play his style of game," said Burns. "I'm not going to dictate when players have to fight."

Took on Marty McSorely in his second fight and it wasn't much of a fight but he did manage to get the left hand going towards the very end of the fight to take the slight decision in a close fight. Dropped a very tough Kelly Chase in a one-sided victory, and then took on Stu "The Grim Reaper" Grimson. They had a nice square off and the Reaper threw a bomb that missed and Baumgartner caught him with a solid right that dropped Grimson to the ice for the flash TKO win. Impressive showing. That was the same game that Wendel Clark got beat up by Bryan Marchment. They fought the next day in the second half of the home and home series and it wasn't much of a fight, I scored it a draw. Here's the clip:

Baumgartner then fought twice against the Montreal Canadiens where he had a very entertaining draw with Todd Ewen - here’s the clip:

Then the Bomer took a loss to Lyle Odelein where Odelein dominated the fight early while Bomber never really got going. Here’s the clip:

Bomber was then overwhelmed by the Maniwaki Mauler Gino Odjick before fighting Sportsnet commentator Nick Kypreos and they basically went toe to toe before the Bomber took over and dropped him to his knees with a big left for the knockdown win.

This was the same game that Bob Rouse fought Mark Janssens and since that was a beauty fight. Here's a clip of that fight:


Baumgartner started the season off with a fight against his old nemesis Alan May. These guys really seemed to dislike each other and nothing was solved in this one as I scored it a draw. Then Baumgartner had a really quick and forth exchange with Red Wings rookie Darren McCarty. The rookie did really well against the veteran but Baumgartner ended up landing the better shots and bloodied McCarty to take the win.

The Bomber then took on one of my personal favorites in Mark Janssens and they had a great exchange that saw each guy land a great left, but Baumgartner's shots were a little better and Janssens was bloodied and had to leave the ice for repairs after it was over. The next opponent would be Razzle Dazzle Basil McRae and the Bomber took care of McRae quickly overwhelming him with a nice flurry of lefts. Fought Scott Thornton and it was a very close battle with both guys giving and receiving a few good punches. Baumgartner missed with a big left and fell down off balance and Thornton was on top of him but didn't throw any punches. Call it a draw. Then took on Kelly Buchberger and landed the better shots but give Buchberger credit he stood right in there and threw some of his own and didn't embarrass himself. Here's the clip:

The Bomber then took on Sandy McCarthy and was beaten before taking on Basil McRae in one of those epic battles that seemed to last forever. Here's the clip of that scrap:

Baumgartner's next opponent would be the enigmatic Doug Houda and it was one of those strange fights that the old heavies used to get involved in occasionally. Both guys looked pissed and were swinging to kill each other with both guys falling down and re-squaring off, before Baumgartner nearly took Houda's head off with a monster shot that KO'D him and put him into the turtle position. Bomber also gave him a cheap shot after the fact which was very much against his style of enforcing. Baumgartner then had a two fight game against another underrated guy in Shane Churla - they were both pretty good fights and I'll let you judge them for yourselves. Here is a clip of the first fight:

The second fight:

The Bomber then took on Phil Crowe in a quick fight that never really got going, here's the clip:

Took on Kris King and while Bomber was more active, he never really tagged King with anything that solid. Give the edge to Baumgartner. Beat Marc Potvin before taking another loss to Sandy McCarthy who seemed to have Baumgartner figured out. This article came out after this fight:

BY KEN FIDLIN. The Toronto Sun. February 12, 1994.

Like most teenaged hockey players, Ken Baumgartner had his dream.

Typical of the Bomber, however, it wasn't some pie-in-the-sky illusion.

From as far back as anyone can remember, the Bomber had the world, and his place in it, in perspective. While many of his Prince Albert Raiders teammates expected to parlay their 1985 Memorial Cup championship into a lucrative career, Baumgartner was looking to his roots as a way to further his hockey career, doing his homework and playing an angle.

''I didn't really have any illusions about making it to the NHL,'' said the Maple Leafs tough guy. ''My grandfather came over from Switzerland in 1925 and lived here for 50 years before he went back to retire. Because of that, I was eligible to carry a valid Swiss passport and qualify to play hockey in the Swiss professional league as a non-import.

''This was the avenue I was pursuing before there was any indication I'd be of any interest to the NHL.''

Baumgartner had long been established as a kid who earned his spot on the ice because of his ability to use his fists. In two years on defense for the Raiders, he amassed 529 penalty minutes and 39 points.

Selected originally by the Buffalo Sabres in the 12th round, 245th overall, in the 1985 draft, Bomber's rights were traded to Los Angeles before he ever turned pro. The next fall, he left for Switzerland.

It was a real positive thing for me,'' he reflected. ''I was able to concentrate on improving my weaknesses (skating and puck-handling), which happened to be the strengths of the European game.''

Less than a year after he returned from his six-month tour in Switzerland, he played his first NHL game. Since then, the road has led from L.A. to Long Island and then on to Toronto two years ago, dealt to the Leafs along with Dave McLlwain for Daniel Marois and Claude Loiselle.

''It's eight years now and I know a lot of people might say they were eight bonus years,'' Baumgartner said. ''But depending which direction the game takes, I certainly have a few good years left.''

And when it's over, Baumgartner will be positioned to make the transition from hockey to the business world without the pain most pro athletes feel.

In the off-season, he's working toward a business degree at Hofstra University on Long Island. During the season, he keeps himself immersed in NHL Players Association business. Insiders regard Baumgartner as a potential future NHL general manager.

''I'd certainly need to get some big breaks for something like that to happen,'' he said. But Baumgartner is a man accustomed to making his own breaks. No one will ever mistake him for Wayne Gretzky, but he's still a cut above many enforcers in overall value to his team.

In 340 games prior to this season, Baumgartner had scored a grand total of six goals. Last season, he did not score until the Leafs' final game, against Chicago. This year, however, the possibility still exists that he could match his entire career total. He already has four goals.

A year ago, Baumgartner's penalty-minute total dropped rather dramatically to an almost pacifistic 155. Never in his career had he been under 200. That reflected in part a lack of ice time at certain points, but it also represented a more mature approach to his craft.

''I think my game is much more in control and disciplined, so therefore I'm putting my team in shorthanded situations less frequently,'' he said.

He's back on pace to top the 200-minute mark again this season (he's one of five Leafs to play in every game), but his 148 minutes going into last night didn't even put him close to the top 10 bad boys in the NHL. Shane Churla, from the Dallas Stars, for example, already has 238 minutes in the box.

It seems that from time to time in most every tough player's career, an identity crisis arises. Players who have earned their place in the best hockey league on the planet by using their fists suddenly think they're there for their skill. That hasn't happened to Baumgartner, but he understands how it happens to others.

''Most players who come into the league as enforcers look forward to the day they can remain in the league on the merit of their skills alone, with their gloves on,'' said Baumgartner. ''But if (fighting) is something you do well, regardless of your skill level, it's always expected of you.''

But even for someone like the Bomber, who has his head screwed on straight and who has his role on the Maple Leafs in perfect perspective, there are times when he grows weary of the reputation. It comes into sharp focus prior to games against traditional rivals, when Baumgartner is inevitably seeded against, say, Bob Probert.

''It's a bit of a paradox because that's the role I play, so it's only natural people will anticipate a fight,'' Baumgartner said. ''But when every kid you meet on the street is telling you who to fight and when to fight, that can be a turn-off.

''I'll fight for myself and I'll fight for my teammates, but I'm not going to fight just because somebody thinks it's entertaining. Yes, it's entertaining to some people, but that's not the bottom line.''

By the same token, Baumgartner finds the NHL's annual all-star no-hitter mildly offensive, believing it's a total misrepresentation of the game as it's played the rest of the season.

''If they want to promote the game as it's played, you need the same pieces of the puzzle that individual teams possess,'' he reasoned. ''What they're presenting right now is an illusion. Chris Nilan came close to playing one year, but just the thought of him making the all-star team made them change the rules.''

There are those who say the Bomber's way is the way of the dinosaur. If that's true, then nobody has told the coaches, the players and the fans. Fighting is still an integral part of the NHL package, whether commissioner Gary Bettman wants to believe it or not.

Baumgartner then took on the guy mentioned prominently in that article - Bob Probert, the King. Probert had just drilled a Maple Leaf player from behind along the boards and Baumgartner wasn't taking that shit from anyone and immediately fired the gloves off and attacked Probie. Bomber did very well in this fight and landed some good shots but Probert came on in the second half to earn the draw if not a slight decision. I called it a draw. Here's the clip:

In Baumgartner's last fight of the season he had a wild fight with Dennis Vial (another underrated tough defenseman!). Baumgartner landed two left bombs and Vial peeled his jersey and they squared off again and Baumgartner pulled his own jersey off and they threw a couple more wild punches before they both went down. This fight was to have a profound impact on Baumgartner's career as I don't think he was quite the same fighter after, as he suffered shoulder damage and also broke his wrist. Here’s the clip:

More pain for Leafs
Daily News. Halifax, N.S. Mar 2, 1994.

TORONTO (CP) -- Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ken Baumgartner is scheduled for surgery today to repair a broken bone in his right wrist injured in a fight Monday in Ottawa.

Baumgartner is expected to be out six weeks, Leafs spokesman Pat Park said yesterday.

The Leafs will also be without right winger Nickolai Borschevsky for four weeks. He separated his right shoulder on his first shift of the Ottawa game when he was hit by Senators forward Darren Rumble.

Rumble, who wasn't penalized for the hit, lost a one-sided fight to the Leafs Rob Pearson in the second period.

Baumgartner, who leads the Leafs with 185 penalty minutes, fought Ottawa's Dennis Vial just 25 seconds after the Rumble-Pearson fight.


Abbreviated season for the Bomber who suffered massive shoulder damage after a fight with Jeff Odgers in which he suffered a loss.

The Spectator. Hamilton, Ont.: Jan 26, 1995

TORONTO-- It took Ken Baumgartner 3-1/2 months to get his union brothers back to work on the ice. It'll take him as long to nurse his shoulder back to health.

Maybe longer.

"The verdict is I'll be undergoing surgery within the next week for reconstruction of my left shoulder. It will be re-evaluated in the future, but we're looking at a minimum three months. And I guess that's not real good news," said Baumgartner, eyes moist with disappointment. "It's been a glorious season of, as it stands, two games."

The Leafs' enforcer first encountered shoulder problems when he broke a bone in his wrist in Ottawa last Feb. 28 and missed the last 20 games of the season and the first round of playoffs. After a long session of rehab, Baumgartner re-injured it in a fight with Jeff Odgers in San Jose last week.

Baumgartner's shoulder becomes vulnerable to injury every time he's forced to raise his arm above it. There is multi-directional instability in it, he added, that tends to partially dislocate and go numb "as was experienced in the fight in San Jose."

Leafs' general manager Cliff Fletcher, who was concerned about team toughness with Baumgartner available, said the club won't panic into making a deal to replace him. First of all, it's not that easy.

"It's not like running out to a grocery store and picking produce or cans off the shelf. When you really try to get something, it generally isn't available," he said.

"But if we have a missing ingredient on our hockey club, we'll go out and find something to help shore it up eventually."

Baumgartner had just returned from New York where he'd received a second opinion from doctors.


Leafs have a logjam of enforcers on the bench
Larry Sicinski. The Spectator. Hamilton, Ont. Sep 14, 1995.

It looks like an enforcers' convention as NHL tough guys Ken Baumgartner, Tie Domi and Warren Rychel fight for the right to fight for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Odds are at least one of them will end up having to flex his muscles with another club.

"I'm prepared for that. But I want to play in Toronto. I want to stay here," said Rychel. "Three guys is a lot to keep, I know. With such a highly-skilled lineup, it's hard to put those kinds of guys in everyday. But it worked last year with Tie and two or three similar guys in the lineup."

The logjam of tough guys in camp -- 215-pound Sergio Momesso's no shrinking violet either, with NHL seasons in which he's produced 198, 199 and 200 minutes in penalties (PIM) -- is not a new thing to Baumgartner. He saw four of them put on uniforms for the Los Angeles Kings, the team with which he broke into the NHL.

"I remember us icing a lineup back in L.A. of myself, Jay Miller on the wing with Marty McSorley and Bubba Beck on defense, so the more the merrier," said the Bomber, who's back in the ring after reconstructive shoulder surgery sat him down for all but two games last season.

Coach Pat Burns hinted that the Leafs may try to use them as trade bait to improve other areas on the club. "We probably can't keep all of them and they know that," he said.

Rychel also knows that the role won't go to the player -- or players -- who are most likely to go through an undefeated season of brawling.

"It's not only the policeman side. You have to prove you can play," said Rychel, who remains confused after having sat out most of last year's playoffs, but had a good summer of conditioning and is ready to prove himself all over again. "I've played on a checking line, fourth line and a No. 1 line (in L.A.), so it doesn't bother me. Whatever position they put me in, that's fine. I'll adapt to it."

The Leafs could be forced to keep all three enforcers if they measure up to the competition in other areas. That wouldn't be an unusual situation by any means.

Domi remembers having Kris King and Joey Kocur as teammates when the New York Rangers won the President's Trophy as the league's top team in the NHLPA-strike season of '91-92. He even played on a line with Kocur.

"We might have won a Stanley Cup with us in the lineup, too, if it hadn't been for the strike," said Domi.

Allowing the focus of that role to be spread out among a few players seems to be the norm now.

"It's becoming a unique situation where one player is stuck with trying to fulfill that single role. But whether it's one of us or three of us or eight of us is out of my hands," said Baumgartner, who has earned the reputation of being one of the toughest players pound-for-pound in the NHL.

Still, you're not likely to see any of these three guys go toe- to-toe with each other to prove their manhood in front of Leaf brass.

All have done that in service to other clubs in the heat of the action in the past.

"I'm not going to be out there fighting my teammates. That's ridiculous. We all know each other and respect each other. We all go to war together," said Rychel. "Whoever gets the job is going to be a matter of who is skating well, playing well and who is smart."

As far as their longevity in the league is concerned, well, each of them has gone through that before, too.

"Three years ago there was a question of where the role was going. Whether the enforcer would be extinct. But players such as Craig Berube (1,899 career PIM) and Mike Peluso (1,466 PIM) signed four-years deals. Stu Grimson (971 PIM) signed a five-year deal," said Baumgartner, pointing to soulmates with seven, five and four years in the NHL respectively. "If you're going to lose, there's no excuse for getting beat up in your own building. That also contributes to the longevity of a career for a player like myself."


In Bomber's first fight back from injury he took on Jeff Odgers the guy who put him on the shelf and although he didn't win the fight he served notice that he wasn't afraid to throw down again and went looking for some personal revenge. Its funny that it was a guy like Jeff Odgers that gave guys like Bomber and Domi such a hard time, but seemed to be beaten by many others. Took on Paul Laus in a fight that was highly anticipated but never really got going. Here's the clip of their short "fight" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGPZcnUuZw4&eurl

The Bomber's next fight would be against Gentleman Jim McKenzie and that was a beauty. McKenzie was clearly dominating the fight when Baumgartner started throwing backhanded shots at him before landing a couple of decent lefts and then they went to the ice. Give the win to McKenzie. Baumgartner went on to have a draw with Todd "the Animal" Ewen, beat Denis Chasse before taking a loss to Tony Twist. Here's the clip of that short fight:

Beat the loveable loser Denny Lambert and took on a young Cale Hulse who was a very good and underrated fighter and they had a great back and forth exchange with Baumgartner landing better to take the decision. Good showing by Hulse though against a top notch veteran. Then took on his nemisis Jeff Odgers again and once again Odgers gave Baumgartner all that he could handle. Here's the clip:

Baumgartner then beat Cam Russell in a good scrap before really doing a number on Dean Malkoc, dropping him with a huge left hand for the KO win. Here's the clip:

Bomber then tried the guy who went toe to toe with everyone in Jimmy Cummins and as expected they had a very entertaining battle. Here's the clip:

Baumgartner's next scrap was against another old rival in Todd Ewen and Ewen used his size to his advantage and got the win in a close fight. Baumgartner's next fight was against Brad May and as he was backing away from May, May caught him a beauty right hand flush that KO'd the Bomber. He was out and while he was down, May drilled him with a cheap right hand which brought Mike Gartner flying into the fray. Here's the clip:

Had a close fight with Stu Grimson after this fight that I scored a draw, possible edge to Baumgartner - Here’s the clip:

Baumgartner then drew with Jimmy McKenzie in a quick fight. Baumgartner then really worked over Cam Russell drilling him with numerous lefts before taking on the man that broke his orbital bone - the legendary Dave Brown. This time Baumgartner was dominating the fight and after eating a couple of lefts Brown grabbed ahold of Baumgartner then muscled him towards the boards and threw him into the bench. Here's the clip:

After this fight Baumgartner fought Odgers and Odgers got in some pretty good shots before Todd Ewen jumped him and fed him. About a week later Odgers and Baumgartner fought again and it was probably a draw. Here's the clip of both fights:


In his first full season in Anaheim, Baumgartner fought the Gypsey Enforcer Brent Severyn and Severyn got the better of their exchange. Severyn fought THREE times in ONE PERIOD that game, a feat that is very rarely accomplished by an enforcer. Renewed his long time rivalry with Jeff Odgers and once again Odgers gave him all that he could handle and took the decision. Here's the clip:

Edged Jamie Huscroft in a grapplefest before taking on Cale Hulse in another great slugfest between the two fighters. Hulse did a great job on Baumgartner this time around and did enough to get the victory. Baumgartner then took on Troy Crowder but it wasn't much of a fight, before taking on another old rival in Todd Ewen which also ended in a draw. Beat Andrei Nazarov, and took on Chris Simon but nothing much developed out of that one. Fought Sandy McCarthy and once again McCarthy had Baumgartner figured out and the Bombmer never landed much offensively and was cut open after the fight. The next opponent on the Bomber's fight card would be Scott Walker and he dominated the fight for the clear win. Took on Matt Johnson and Stu Grimson but both fights were mostly wrestling matches and nothing really developed in either fight although Grimson may have done enough to take a decision in their fight. Bomber then took on Steve Webb and made short work of him, drilling him with several unanswered shots. Took on Cale Hulse again in another slugfest and I scored it a draw. Got the better of Greg Smyth and Tim Hunter before ending the season with a tough loss to an underrated guy in Kris King.


Ken Baumgartner was picked up by the Boston Bruins in the off-season and in his first fight with the B's took on an underappreciated guy in Troy Mallette and took the clear decision. Took on Jason Bowen and Bowen landed a beauty punch that split the Bomber but also enraged him and Baumgartner basically pummelled Bowen into the ice for the comeback win. Baumgartner used his savvy to jersey Oliwa and get the clear decision in that fight before beating Denny Lambert (again). Tried to fight Rob Ray but it couldn't develop and a partial brawl ensued. Note that Ray was out of his jersey with minimal urging and that he was trying to turtle on the play. Look at the sucker shot that Brad May gives Baumgartner on the play as well:

Took on Chris McAllister in a crap fight but there's a clip of it, so here you go:

The Bomber then looked to edge Stu Grimson in a close fight before having along drawn out battle with Darren Langdon that I scored a draw. Had a very good fight with Scott Daniels that was all Bomber early and although Daniels came on towards the end, I gave the decision to Baumgartner. Also fought Kyzysztof Oliwa in a long fight that I scored a draw, and although Oliwa celebrated like he was the heavyweight champ and Baumgartner was bleeding, Oliwa was wearing taped up hands. Here's the clip of the fight:

And here are Oliwa's comments: "I had tape around my fingers and I was reprimanded for that. I knew about the rule, that if you have your knuckles cut, you can't put anything on your knuckles. But this wasn't my knuckles, it was my fingers. And I had taped my fingers for as long as I had been playing hockey. And even if I had cut Baumgartner with my hand or the tape, it was not intentional. The cut could have been from something else. We don't know, but if you look at the tape of the incident, you can't see if I hit him and cut him. I didn't put the tape on my fingers to hurt anybody because I wouldn't want someone to put tape on his fingers to hurt me. The thing was, I wasn't aware that you couldn't have tape on your fingers. I only had tape on one pinky - on the end of it! I couldn't hurt anyone with that. Anyway, I got spoken to about the rules after that and I'll never do it again. I learned the tough way and got kicked out of the game and even faced suspension. Thankfully, I didn't get suspended but I learned and, as I've said before, it has never been easy for me."

Baumgartner went on to have an entertaining back and forth fight with Chris Murray before taking on Darren Langdon in an absolute war. This is one of my favorite fights between two of my favorite fighters - Lots of give and take, back and forth action, slipping of punches, and haymakers thrown by both guys. Langdon weathers the early storm and has Bomber in trouble coming on the end. Here's the fight:

Baumgartner then fought Jason Strudwick and got the clear decision, before beating both Rhett Warrener and Paul Laus in the same game, getting the clear decision in both fights. Had another two fight game against the Buffalo Sabres where he beat the Boogey man Bob Boughner, knocking him down twice during the fight and then beat Paul Kruse in a quick fight off the face-off. Then took on Daniel Lacroix and beat the piss out him and while Lacroix was down the Bomber hit him with a couple of shots while he was down which drew a crowd and almost started a linebrawl. The cheap shot was probably in response to Lacroix hitting the Bomber with the stick before the fight started. The Bomber then took on the Tin Man, Mark Tinordi, and they had a beauty toe to toe slugfest which Tinordi got the best of - very impressive display by Tinordi. Baumgartner ended the season on a high note with a good scrap against Craig Berube which I scored a slight win for the Bomber. Berube was bleeding after the fight - yet another Baumgartner bleeding victim!


This would be the last season of Baumgartner's stellar career as an enforcer and he started it off with a win over a very uninterested looking Gino Odjick - Odjick was also cut over the eye in the fight. Took on his old rival Jeff Odgers and once again Odgers managed to get the right hands going and overwhelmed the Bomber - Odgers always seemed to have Baumgartner's number! Took on Dave Morrisette and this was a great fight which I scored a draw. Baumgartner then had a two fight game against Tie Domi and in the first fight I thought it was very close, and scored it a solid draw. Domi got Baumgartner's jersey over his head in the second round and teed off on him to take the decision in their second fight.

Here's an article that came out after this game:
A tough role to fill
By Joe Gordon. The Boston Herald. November 15, 1998.

They've been called everything from goons to cops to enforcers.

Pacifists have attempted to legislate their jobs out of existence for what seems like an eternity, making it appear the future of their livelihood is only slightly more stable than that of the mercenary gunslingers of the old west circa 1900.

But the brotherhood of National Hockey League players whose careers depend upon standing up for their teammates and insuring that no villainous member of the opposition gets away with intimidation is still thriving. It probably always will thrive.

The 1970s era of Dave Schultz and the Broad St. Bullies of the Philadelphia Flyers is gone. Out-and-out mugging brings steep penalties these days, so the job description has changed. Subtlety and smarts have been added to the package, and no member of this fraternity is any smarter than the Bruins' Ken Baumgartner, who is light years removed from the misconceived image of what these players are really like.

Baumgartner, who started his career as a defenseman and has been moved up front, is so good at what he does and so valuable to this team he will earn $650,000 in U.S. funds this season after having played all 82 games last season with a grand offensive total of no goals and one assist, with a team-leading 199 penalty minutes. Through the first games this season he had one goal, no assists and 39 penalty minutes. Yet the Bruins are delighted he's got this season and next on his contract.

At the modest size of 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, it's a minor miracle Bomber, as he is called by his teammates, had played every game going into this weekend since the Bruins acquired him as a free agent from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on July 1, 1997. Baumgartner, 32, has played for five teams since 1987 (Kings, Islanders, Maple Leafs, Mighty Ducks and Bruins).

"(Size) is probably where the role has changed the most in the past 10 years," said Baumgartner, whose intelligence is respected enough by his NHL colleagues for them to have elected him a vice president of the NHL Players Association the last five years. "There was a day when they could roll out guys 6-4, 220 to center ice to fight, but now all those guys can PLAY, too.

"They're teaching big kids to play hockey. It's almost become a necessity in the league and certainly a necessity in the role. So, a 6-1, 205-pound enforcer is a bit of a dying breed."

Brawn and brains

This is the same Ken Baumgartner who completed a degree in banking and finance from Hofstra University last summer. It came after 14 years of off-season classes that began in 1984 at University of Saskatoon, during his junior hockey career with Prince Albert of the WHL. His tenacity in attaining an educational objective is no different than his tenacity in performing his function as a member of the Bruins.

"There's no discrepancy," he said. "I'm totally comfortable with my life away from the rink. I have a job, albeit a unique one. There's never any spillover when I leave the arena. It's sometimes hard to rationalize what I do on the ice to young players and children and other adults I come across. But I have been handsomely rewarded for that talent over the years.

"It's nice to know, over the years, I've been called upon to do some things with my gloves on, either on the ice or in the dressing room," he added. "I've taken pride in that.

"When you move into a new neighborhood and you're dropping your children off at school and you have stitches or a black eye, it raises some eyebrows. But over time people understand and accept that it is a job and it won't last forever."

Get one thing straight. Nobody starts out in hockey dreaming of spending his career mending his broken knuckles and stitching his split lips. Those without the skills to play like Wayne Gretzky or Bobby Orr have to find other ways to make themselves indispensable.

"Enforcer is a label, unfortunately, I haven't been able to shed," he said. "It would be nice to be a power forward, but to be a power forward they expect 20 goals out of you. I have not been able to provide the scoring over the years. Enforcer is fine."

Baumgartner listed former New Jersey Devil Scott Stevens as a player he admired.

"He's a guy who was as tough as anyone out there, but he could play and eventually he was told, 'Keep your gloves on, we need you on the ice.' I think every enforcer longs for that day when they're told that. Unfortunately, for many of us, we don't get that call. It's pretty late in my career, unless I start scoring goals at will."

Let's get physical

Baumgartner grew up as a defensive defenseman. He played that position and filled that role until his arrival in New York to play for the Islanders on Nov. 29, 1989. Throughout his 2 1-2 years there he made the transition from defenseman to winger. He's had some spot duty back on defense over the last six years, but for the most part it's been strictly forward.

"It's two different skill sets, but the underlying role is that I've had to play physical, I've had to look after my teammates and I've had to look after myself," he said. "I had to play that way even to make a junior hockey team. I was never the most skilled individual on any team I've played on. But I realized that at a young age and was able to use the physical aspect of my game in order to climb to the next level of hockey. Once there, my game improved steadily just playing day in and day out with the better players."

Baumgartner and his fellow enforcers might have the most difficult job in sports.

Said Baumgartner: "The physical aspect of it - I'm sure a lineman in football knows all about that. Probably the toughest part, where many of my contemporaries have the most difficulty, is the mental part. A prize fighter knows he's going to fight four or five times a year. He knows against whom, he knows the date and he trains for it. We play 82-plus games a year and every shift you're on the ice is a different situation and anything can happen. That is the toughest part of the job.

"There are times when (fighting) is more inevitable than others, but I'd like to think it's not premeditated. It's more apt to happen with some teams than others, what with divisional rivalries and new players on new teams. Those are some of the criteria that increase the odds there'll be an altercation. And much of it is based on whether someone takes a run at Ray (Bourque) or whether someone calls me on. And then there's the game situations."

It takes a cop to know one

One of the early actions taken by Bruins coach Pat Burns after he took the Bruins job on May 21, 1997, was to encourage the acquisition of Baumgartner, who had played for him in Toronto.

"He's perfected a skill - It's a skill thing that he does," said Burns, a former member of the Montreal Police Department. "We've been together about six years now. I've never had to go to him and ask him to do it. I've never had to go to him and say, 'You're going to get this guy.' He knows his role, and that's important for a coach because when you have to direct somebody to do that kind of work, it's difficult for the two parties.

"He does it so well at the right time," Burns continued. "He does it in mind of the score of the game, the time on the clock, and that's why we certainly appreciate what he does, but it's not an easy job. It's a job that's tough. It demands a lot. It's almost like being a policeman on the ice - you have to go out and clean up. I understand. I did it in a different way - for real, with no referees. His qualities to the team are the way he takes it upon himself and the players respect him and like him a lot. They know what he does."

Burns acknowledges that Baumgartner is on the smallish side for the role, but that doesn't make him any less effective at it. As Baumgartner pointed out, over the years, with some of the rule changes in the league, a player in that role has had to be more in control. Playing out of control and causing havoc night in and night out is frowned upon and will lead to suspensions.

"You ply your trade within the regulations," Baumgartner said.

"He's probably one of the toughest individuals I've ever had," said Burns. "I've had some tough ones. I've had (Chris) Nilan and (John) Kordic. But for a guy to do that job as long as he's done it and still have the respect . . . A lot of guys have lost respect. He's gained it in the league. He does come into a melee and the players look over and say 'Bomber's here.' They still know he's coming and when he's in there, I know I've heard him say a couple of things that were funny as hell, too, when he gets in there and everybody just goes.

"Nobody is sure whether he's cuckoo, wacky or just plain smart," said Burns. "But what a lot of people don't know about Ken is that he's a very intelligent individual. I can see him down the road being a good type of assistant coach. He knows the game well, too. In practice if somebody is lost in a drill he'll go to him and say 'that's not the way you do it. This is the way.' "

For the record, Baumgartner feels uncomfortable judging his contemporary counterparts, but he did say when he broke into the NHL he felt Dave Semenko and Dave Brown were two of the toughest players in the league.

It's about appreciation

Burns and his players never look at Baumgartner's stats and smirk. The coach said only people who don't understand what's going on question Baumgartner's presence on the roster.

"Some people come up to me and say, 'What's Ken Baumgartner? What does he actually do?' You look at them and shake your head," Burns said. "People don't understand. He knows what (his value) is and when he gets a point or a goal everybody is happy for him. It's a big event in the dressing room. He gets one in practice and it's a big event. That's how the respect of his teammates is very, very important."

Tim Taylor was on a Stanley Cup winner in Detroit before coming to the Bruins last season at the same time as Baumgartner. He knows it takes roles and understanding roles to win.

"As a whole, we all understand Bomber's job is very difficult - to come off the bench and be able to rally our team when we're down or stick up for a player is a real tough job to do," Taylor said. "You come off the bench, you haven't played in seven or eight minutes (he's averaging fewer than eight shifts a game) and you're expected to fight right away.

"It may not be in the heat of the moment, but you're trying to get our team going or some guy is hitting one of us," Taylor continued. "It's a real tough job and I think as a team we respect each other's jobs. (Baumgartner's) biggest asset is that he brings a lot of enthusiasm to the ice and a lot of team concept to his hockey game. When he comes in (the dressing room) he's a team leader. He's good at communicating between the players and the coaches. He does all the little things right to make him very valuable to the hockey club. He's more important to a hockey club than just a guy who goes out there and fights. He doesn't just sit on the bench and go out and fight."

Only a player like Baumgartner, a man who gives 100 percent of his body and mind and sticks up for his comrades at a high personal cost, could be the object of as much respect and appreciation from his teammates as he has earned.

"There's the enthusiasm of the group that helps you accept your contribution to the team," Baumgartner said. "Those are the intangibles that I feel have been worth countless points to us over the last year, year and a half. I may not show up on the score sheet the same way as some of the other players, but I like to think on many nights I have as much to do with the win as many others."

Baumgartner's next fight was during a linebrawl between the Bruins and the Capitals, where he took on Mark Tinordi. Tinordi gave the Bomber all he could handle in this one and got the decision. Here's the clip of the linebrawl:

Baumgartner then beat up a non-fighter in Trent McCleary, before having a crap draw with Chris Dingman (imgaine!), and then Baumgartner got his revenge on Oliwa by catching him with a beauty left that started the blood flowing liberally. Beat Adam Burt in a shitty fight, before getting edged by Brad Brown in a very good back and forth fight. Baumgartner's last career NHL fight was a in close battle against Sean Gagnon where he used his veteran savvy to land a few short punches while both guys were in close quarters to take the decision.

Well that’s it - a thorough review of the career of one Ken Baumgartner. I really learned a lot through this particular project. Baumgartner had always impressed me as a fighter, and I thought he was more of a technical guy but he was surprisingly quite powerful. He had a lot more TKOs, and KO's then I thought and he left a lot of opponents bloodied. His left uppercut was a thing of beauty and his fight card was excellent. I'd love to hear any thoughts, opinions, quotes, favorite fights, or any memories on the Bomber. Please share!

Special thanks goes out to Sittler from RH for providing the majority of the articles for this project.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Research at it’s worst

Just a couple of questions for John Haisken-DeNew and Matthias Vorell, the researchers that ginned up, “Blood Money: Incentives for Violence in NHL Hockey.”

1) Why only use wingers in your research? Enforcers can play defense as well.
2) Why use a very subjective source (wins/losses as determined by posters at hockey-fights.com) as an important criterion in your research?
3) Why only assists? Enforcers score goals too you know…
4) Why propose a formula for eliminating fighting when fighting in hockey is supported by the majority of fans, players themselves, and has been positively correlated with television ratings?

From one researcher to another, tighten up!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Two Different Takes on the Health of the NHL

First off, thanks to Drew Pelto. The guy never fails to keep things interesting.

To take Drew’s entry a little further, I couldn’t help but chat about two NHL articles/blog entries today, both offering differing views of the health of the NHL.

The first comes from Alan Makiof the Globe and Mail. Alan offers the following:

In Buffalo, the Sabres business practices are rattling their NHL partners who think the team is deliberately keeping the cost of its tickets low so it can qualify for league revenue sharing. The Sabres are raising their tickets by $3
to $6 (all figures US) for next season and have acknowledged their need to increase revenue "in order to maintain a receipt of revenue sharing."

As for the Phoenix Coyotes, they lost $30 million last season, according to an internal NHL document publicized last week, and are believed to have lost an additional $30 million the year before. (Here's a thought: send the Coyotes back
where they came from; to Winnipeg. Makes sense if you consider the Canadian economy, the strength of the Canadian dollar and our undying love for all things hockey.)

Well, parity was certainly coming into play before the lockout and no, the ticket prices didn't go down when the players went back to work. As for fixed costs, it's worth noting that next season's salary cap minimum is likely to be set at $40 million, with a ceiling of $56 million. That's a significant jump from the $23 million minimum of 2005-2006 and one caused largely by the rise in the Canadian dollar, an increase that has helped on one side of the border while damaging the weaker teams on the other.

Little wonder that with the U.S. economy on full credit-crunch alert, several teams (as many as eight to 10) have had discussions with Balsillie, a businessman who has the money to match his passion for the game. Balsillie remains keenly interested in either buying a team in a solid hockey market and operating it there or buying one and relocating it to Southern Ontario.

Commissioner Gary Bettman, though, wants no part of Balsillie and his independent ways but you have to know there are owners who covet the Blackberry maker's cash and would love to have him as a member of their group.

So while it appears that a lot of teams are prospering, few are publically admitting that the strong Canadian dollar has helped them prosper. And as Drew pointed out, while NHL ratings have improved, when you put them into perspective by comparing them to other sports, it's still a very sad outlook. Drew is right about Elite XC. The "Kimbo league" isn't even a top three MMA organization. And that is from a casual MMA guy. But match it with the Stanley Cup finals and the league's best star, and all the sudden, Elite looks pretty damn good.

Not to be biased, let's give Ted's Take a chance:

The NHL had a great year. Can you name me one other media oriented company that can say they grew and grew fast across the board in terms of:

Ratings - both nationally and locally;

Season ticket renewals and season ticket sales;

Overall ticket sales;

Overall ticket pricing;

Merchandising sales;

Sponsorship sales;

And revenues?

The salary cap will move up again as the players share in more than half of the revenues so the players are happy.

For the most part, the product has improved.
To each their own I guess. I am sure those in Nashville and Phoenix could write a very entertainig rebuttal to Leonsis' thoughts. But I have been told that the owners are interested in one thing, and it is green and comes in paper form. So it's not hard to tell why Ted is so excited.

I left a message for Ted regarding the instigator rule as well:

Sig, said: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

“For the most part, the product has improved.”

Now vote for modifying or abolishing the instigator rule, ala your Chicago Blackhawks’ counterparts, at the BOGs meeting and you’ll see a major improvement in the game. Hecht, even CBS is putting MMA on prime time t.v. While I am not interested in anything that extreme, you can’t ignore it. The hockey fence sitting fan awaits!
We'll see it makes it past the moderation stage...

While I'll point out the differing views on the health of the NHL, don't think I'm being two pessimistic by giving Ted a hard time. I thought the product was a little better this year. Referees are calling every ticky tack penalty call... they'll tell you their calling the game the same and that players have adjusted. And fighting majors are up from the year before... but no where near pre-lockout numbers.

If these trends continue and Ted and his owners buds listen to the GMs, the players, and the fans about the instigator rule, the NHL's pulse might register again with casual sports fans.