Friday, January 19, 2007

A bedtime story

This is a little story I put together to answer a question my Ladybug asked me at the rink one day. - NF

Once upon a time, a nice boy named Randy Holt decided to take up the sport of ice hockey. He got laughed at a bit, mostly because he was smaller than the other boys once he was done growing. Adult Randy was rather an average 5’ 11”, 185 lbs.* But once Randy started playing, the other kids stopped laughing – because he would clobber them if they didn’t.

Randy Holt was good enough to represent seven different NHL teams in ten years. A majority of his games were spent with the Washington Capitals, but his most notable game came in early 1979, when he was a Los Angeles King. His primary responsibility wasn’t scoring. The Kings had Marcel Dionne, Charlie Simmer, Dave Taylor, and Butch Goring to score goals. Randy’s job was simply to make sure that nobody tried to knock down those guys.

On this particular evening – March 11, 1979 – the Kings traveled to play the Philadelphia Flyers, and an all-out brawl broke loose in the first period. Randy got into in with Ken Linseman, whose style of play would soon earn him the nickname, “The Rat.” Linseman was only a rookie at the time, and much more successful offensively than Randy. In fact, he scored five goals in 30 games that rookie season, one more than Randy totalled for his entire career. But during this brawl, Randy set a standard no other player has ever matched: he was assessed 57 minutes in penalties. To go along with the ten that he already had, Randy finished with 67 penalty minutes in one game.

An NHL game only lasts 60 minutes.

Others have done more in the long haul. Four different guys have topped 400 minutes in a season – an average of five per game. Dave “Tiger” Williams rang up 3966 minutes in his career – over 66 complete games spent sitting in penalty boxes. (When he was actually on the ice he was good enough for 241 career goals.) There was Ogie Oglethorpe of Slap Shot fame, “with the litigation, the notoriety, his subsequent deportation to Canada and that country's refusal to accept him.” But let us remember Randy Holt, who for one night was on a par with any of them – March 11, 1979, at the fabulous Sports Spectrum of Philadelphia, where Randy Holt was the King of the Rink.

*Adult Nightfly is 6’ even, and about 170 pounds, just for comparison’s sake.

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