March 21, 2016

Tiger Williams "Afraid Every Game"

On this date in 1981 Vancouver's Tiger Williams becomes the first player in NHL history to score 30 goals while recording 300 penalty minutes in one season. He finished the season (his third consecutive season with 30 or more goals) with 35 goals and 343 penalty minutes.

Tiger Williams is quite possibly the NHL's all time greatest villain. His record 3966 career penalty minutes certainly makes for a strong opening argument.

But here's an interesting note - Tiger Williams was "afraid every game."

In an interview with the Vancouver Province, Tiger said:

“People said I was fearless. Well, I was afraid every game I played. I was afraid I’d let down my teammates, my coach, our fans. I was afraid every day. That’s the way it was and I think there were a lot of guys like that on that team. We achieved way more than people thought we could.” 

The Canucks did do quite well when Tiger was around - so well they unexpectedly made it to the Stanley Cup final in 1982. True, the LA Kings pulling off the massive upset of Wayne Gretzky's young Edmonton Oilers helped, but Tiger's leadership was also instrumental.

"Tiger made such a difference to that team," said Harry Neale, the Canucks coach and manager back then. He’s the most competitive player I ever coached. And I don’t mean fighting. I mean practice, preparation, everything. He was more talented than most people thought, but his desire set him apart. He hated to lose, whether it was drills or the Stanley Cup playoffs."

Here's my full Tiger Williams biography.

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