July 14, 2013

Steve Durbano

They called him "Demolition Durby" and "Mental Case Durbano." He is perhaps hockey's baddest man - both on and off the ice.

Durbano was a journeyman defenseman for parts of 6 NHL seasons. His toughness was legendary, and also the reason he was so highly touted when he came out of junior. He was drafted 13th overall in the 1971 Entry Draft by the New York Rangers. The Rangers passed on names like Terry O'Reilly and Larry Robinson to get Durbano.

The Rangers, however, traded Steve before he even played a game in the NHL. He ended up in St. Louis where he made his NHL debut in the 1972-73 season. He would go on to play with Pittsburgh, Kansas City/Colorado before returning to St. Louis in 1978 to finish his career. Durbano scored 13 goals and 73 points in 220 NHL games.

Durbano sat out 1127 PIM in his 220 NHL games, a average of over 5 minutes a game! The 5.1 PIM per game is the highest mark for anyone with more than 1000 minutes. When the Broad Street Bullies were brawling their way through the mid-seventies, Durbano led the league in penalty minutes with 370. When asked who was the toughest player of his day was, he'd always answer "I was. I still have all my teeth, and I'm proud of that."

Many of Durbano's fights didn't happen on the ice. He was an alcoholic and routinely was in bar room brawls wherever he went. But the bar room brawls almost seem saintly compared to some of the other stuff Durbano has done in his life. In 1983 he was convicted for drug trafficking and in 1998 he was found guilty of running a prostitution ring.

In December 1998, The Hockey News ran an article on hockey's baddest player. Durbano has moved to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. He moved to the "Gateway to the Arctic" to escape his past and start over. The article said that Durbano was cleaning up his act somewhat - he worked hard as an Electrolux salesman and claimed to have given up cocaine.

However he remained a heavy drinker and died in 2002 of liver failure.

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