Skip to main content

Ivan Was Not Terrible

There was an old-time New York Ranger press agent by the name of Herb Goren. It was his job to get the Rangers in the newspapers and capture a part of the entertainment pie in Manhattan. He would often hype up players in attempts to make them household names in the Big Apple.

Goren quickly dubbed Ivan Irwin as Ivan the Terrible. However it was never quite determined whether Goren was referring to his short temper and rugged style of play, or his lack of talent!

When Irwin was on the top of his game, the tall, balding defenseman was a sensational bodychecker, and played with a meanstreak that made other coaches envious. But when he wasn't on his game, Irwin was exploited by his poor skating abilities. Faster players would take their chances on getting creamed, knowing that if they could get the extra step on the less-than-mobile Irwin they could be in home free on the Rangers net.

Irwin was originally property of the Montreal Canadiens. After playing just 4 games in Montreal, he was traded to the Rangers for Eddie Slowinski and Pete Babando. In his first minor league call up to the Rangers he replaced none-other than team captain Allan Stanley.

For the next three years he was a mainstay on the Blue Shirts blue line. He was most noted for his fistic skills, memorably fighting Lee Fogolin Sr, and, believe it or not, his own defensive partner Leapin' Louie Fontinato in practice one day. Coach Phil Watson was surprisingly quoted as being pleased by the teammate fight because they were showing passion but his like for Irwin dissipated over time. After three seasons Irwin, who also tag-teamed with the great Bill Gadsby at times, would be banished to the minor leagues, reportedly in part due to a disagreement with the coach.

The Chicago-born Irwin continued his career in the minor leagues. In the NHL he totaled 155 games, 2 goals and 29 points.


Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M