January 31, 2008

Who Is Hockey's Mr. Clean?

Did you know that heading into action Wednesday night, Toronto's Kyle Wellwood played in 34 games without accumulating a penalty?

Which led me to this question: Has there ever been a season of significance by a player who never took a single visit to the penalty box? The answer, of course, is yes.

Bill Quackenbush played with the Detroit Red Wings and the Boston Bruins in his 14 year career in the NHL. The 5'11" 180lb blueliner was not only one of the best defensive blueliners, but also, much like Niklas Lidstrom in the modern NHL, was as gentlemanly as he was efficient.

While playing with the Red Wings he was teamed with such pugilists as Terrible Ted Lindsay, Black Jack Stewart and of course Gordie Howe. Later Bill would play for the Big Bad Boston Bruins. Quackenbush's play was completely contradictory to that of his teams. Instead of using violence and brute strength, he would use a clean, pure version of defense. He seemingly knew what the opposing team would do before it would happen and he'd break-up the play without having to resort to physically manhandling the player. His positioning was perfect, his defense as elegant as it was disciplined.

Quackenbush won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1949, an incredibly rare accomplishment for defensemen. It was hard to not give it to Bill that year though as the NHL First All Star Team defenseman did not commit a single foul in the entire season. In fact, Bill once went a span of 137 consecutive games (spanning 3 different seasons) without taking a single penalty! He probably should have won the trophy more than once, as he totaled just 95 penalty minutes in 774 career games!

Does that make "Quack" the cleanest man in hockey? Or does that honour go to the other newest addition here at Legends?

Val Fonteyne, a defensive forward best remembered with the Pittsburgh Penguins, accumulated just 26 PIMs in 820 career games! In one stretch Valere played in 185 consecutive matches without committing a foul. He followed that up with a 157 game stretch! Yet somehow Fonteyne never won the Lady Byng despite 5 full NHL seasons (3 consecutively) where he had 0 penalty minutes!

Bill Quackenbush and Val Fonteyne are the newest additions here at Greatest Hockey Legends.

1 comment:

VelvetShadows said...

Wellwood had 0 PIM last year as well.