Who doesn't love chaos? I sure do, and it seems like for a long time, the NHL did too.
It wasn't uncommon to see players finishing their careers in the 80s/90s/00s with 1000+ PIMS, but most of those guys never had much of a scoring touch, they were goons. Their job was to take penalties for the sake of physically intimidating the other team or just to cause pure chaos on the ice and hope that it benefited your team in the end.
But there have been a few players in the history of the NHL that were not only skilled in the art of chaos, but could also score better than most. These are the players I was looking for.
Now, I know there are probably some advanced metrics I could have used here, but to be honest this is the first time I have ever done research for a hockey article and I was kind of making this up as I went along. My initial thought was to find the players that had the most fights + points in NHL history, but when that information wasn't readily available I decided to change my approach.
In the NHL's history, there are only 10 players who are in the Top 100 in both Points and PIMS, and they are as follows:
23rd All-Time in PIMS - 26th All-Time in POI
2nd All-Time in PIMS - 83rd All-Time in POI
93rd All-Time in PIMS - 4th All-Time in POI
41st All-Time in PIMS - 67th All-Time in POI
60th All-Time in PIMS - 3rd All-Time in POI
11th All-Time in PIMS - 70th All-Time in POI
73rd All-Time in PIMS - 13th All-Time in POI
10th All-Time in PIMS - 99th All-Time in POI
64th All-Time in PIMS - 64th All-Time in POI
12th All-Time in PIMS - 101st All-Time in POI*
* Ok so I know Chelios isn't technically in the Top 100 for Points, but he is only 2 points out of 100th and 10 players is a better number than 9 players.
Now, I wasnt really sure how I was going to actually figure out an answer to my question so I decided to look at a few different filters/methods on ranking them. 1st is PIM+POI, and I will be ranking them from 1st-10th, with CPP representing Combined Points and PIMS.
1st: Dale Hunter - 4585 CPP (3565 [!] PIMS, 1020 POI)
2nd: Pat Verbeek - 3967 CPP (2905 PIMS, 1062 POI)
3rd: Rick Tocchet - 3922 CPP (2970 PIMS, 952 POI)
4th: Brendan Shanahan - 3843 CPP (2489 PIMS, 1354 POI)
5th: Chris Chelios - 3839 CPP (2792 PIMS, 948 POI)
6th: Mark Messier - 3799 CPP (1912 PIMS, 1887 POI)
7th: Paul Coffey - 3535 CPP (1802 PIMS, 1531 POI)
8th: Gordie Howe - 3333 CPP (1685 PIMS, 1850 POI)
9th: Keith Tkachuk - 3284 CPP (2219 PIMS, 1065 POI)
10th: Theo Fleury - 2928 CPP (1840 PIMS, 1088 POI)
- Gordie Howe is the only player in this group to have more POI than PIMS
- The largest gap between players is Dale Hunter and Pat Verbeek with a difference of 618 CPP
- Dale Hunter has 595 (!) more PIMs than the second place player (Rick Tocchet)
- The closest gap between players is Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios with a difference of 4 CPP
- The difference between 1st and 10th in CPP is 1657
My second method for ranking is to just add up each players place in both Top 100s, with the lowest overall player being first and highest overall player being last.
PIM RANK/TOP 100 + POI RANK/TOP 100
1st: Brendan Shanahan - 49 (23rd PIMS, 26th POI)
2nd: Mark Messier - 63 (60th PIMS, 3rd POI)
3rd: Pat Verbeek - 81 (11th PIMS, 70th POI)
4th: Dale Hunter - 85 (2nd PIMS, 83rd POI)
5th: Paul Coffey - 86 (73rd PIMS, 13th POI)
6th: Gordie Howe - 97 (93rd PIMS, 4th POI)
7th: Keith Tkachuk - 108 (41st PIMS, 67th POI)
8th: Rick Tocchet - 109 (10th PIMS, 99th POI)
9th: Chris Chelios - 113 (12th PIMS, 101st POI)
10th: Theo Fleury - 128 (64th PIMS, 64th POI)
- There are only 3 players who are ranked higher in POI than PIMS (Messier, Howe and Coffey)
- The player with the closest rankings is Theo Fleury who is 64th in both POI and PIM
- Both Howe and Tocchet have the largest ranking separation with 89 positions between their POI and PIM
- Theo Fleury is the only player to not be in the top 50 of at least one category
- Brendan Shanahan is the only player to be in the top 50 of both categories
My final ranking is, in my opinion, the most useful. I took the POI+PIM from the first list, and then divided each by games played. In my opinion, this method shows best which player was the most chaotic good per game, with the highest number being the best. For example, if a player had 2.69 CPP/GP, that would mean they would have on average 2.69 POI and PIMs per game. With that being said, here is the list.
1st: Rick Tocchet - 3.43 CPP/GP (3922 CPP/1144 GP)
2nd: Dale Hunter - 3.26 CPP/GP (4585 CPP/1407 GP)
3rd: Pat Verbeek - 2.79 CPP/GP (3967 CPP/1424 GP)
4th: Keith Tkachuk - 2.73 CPP/GP (3284 CPP/1201 GP)
5th: Theo Fleury - 2.70 CPP/GP (2928 CPP/1084 GP)
6th: Brendan Shanahan - 2.52 CPP/GP (3843 CPP/1524 GP)
7th: Paul Coffey - 2.51 CPP/GP (3535 CPP/1409 GP)
8th: Chris Chelios - 2.33 CPP/GP (3839 CPP/1651 GP)
9th: Mark Messier - 2.16 CPP/GP (3799 CPP/1756 GP)
10th: Gordie Howe - 1.89 CPP/GP (3333 CPP/1767 GP)
There it is, Rick Tocchet is the most chaotic good player in NHL History, maybe. I have never really done anything stat related before and I told myself that if I ever wanted to make a name for myself in the hockey world, I have to go out there and try, so that's why I made this. My practices may be flawed, and in all honesty this information is probably useless seeing as though none of these players actually play in the league anymore, but I thought at very least, this would be a fun thought experiment.
I would also like to list some honorable mentions for this list. For honorable mentions, I took players who had one of either POI or PIM in the Top 100, and their second category within 100 points of the self-imposed cutoff of 900 POI and 1600 PIM.
If you would like me to do a post similar to this one with these 10 players, let me know. I don't have a job right now so I have a lot of free time. I would also be willing to do the same list for players who are currently in the NHL, and maybe throw in a couple more metrics.
If you got this far, thank you for reading this post. From start to finish this has taken me about 8 hours of work, but I would do it all over again because I love hockey. Let me know if you have any ideas for a new post or ways I can fix these current metrics for a fresh new set of 10 players, and let me know if you enjoyed this post.
Thank you for reading.