TBT: Goon Brendan Shanahan vs Colorado Avalanche


Former Detroit Red Wings Brendan Shanahan was renowned for his tough, physical play. He was also known for borderline plays — and quite a few plays that went beyond borderline.

Such dirty plays were common during the great Colorado Avalanche-Detroit Red Wings rivalry of the 1990s. For longtime Avalanche fans, the big battles in the playoffs were epic.

One night in particular, Brendan Shannahan especially showed his goon colors. That night was May 22, 1997.

The Colorado Avalanche were the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Avs were on their way to getting bumped out of the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings, though.

Game 4 was a horrible one for the Colorado Avalanche. Late in the third, and the Red Wings were up 6-0. They were clearly going to win the game.

That didn’t stop them from running at the Avalanche with moves that would make the Minnesota Wild proud. Red Wings right wing Martin LaPointe took a run and slew-footed Eric Lacroix of the Avalanche. We’re not talking that little subtle sweep of the foot players get called for now. We’re talking a wide arc that took out Lacroix’s feet and sent him flying.

Left wing Rene Corbet stood up to LaPointe in honor of his linemate. (And roommate, but that’s another story.) He checked on Lacroix then ran at LaPointe and cross-checked him. LaPointe turned around. He had the situation handled — he was, after all, the one who had just slew-footed an Avalanche player.

Indeed. LaPointe gave Corbet a right hook to show his “appreciation” for the crosscheck.

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That should have been the end of it. Or, when LaPointe and Corbet dropped the gloves, that should have been the fighting partners. Corbet was off balance as LaPointe dropped the gloves and started wailing at him, but at least that was the dance partner Corbet was willing to take on — because that was the player who had attacked his teammate.

Lacroix came flying over to separate the fight. That should have been the end of it.

Instead, Brendan Shanahan had to show his goon colors. He came after Corbet, who had no choice but to go toe-to-toe with the renowned fighter — and dirty player. Corbet made a valiant effort, but he was only Matt Duchene size at 6-foot, 198 pounds.

Shanahan, who’d had nothing to do with any of the play up until then, was more like Erik Johnson size — 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. Ponder what would happen if Johnson toed off with Duchene for some crazy reason. (He wouldn’t, of course, but you get the picture.)

Well, Shanahan took Corbet down. The scary part is that Corbet lost his helmet during the fight, and he went down first. He clearly cracked his head as he went down — there’s a lot of blood on the ice after Shanahan finally lets him get up again.

Because that’s the most disgusting and disturbing part. It’s not enough that Shanahan forced a smaller player to fight him. It’s not enough that Shanahan won the fight. It’s not enough that he took Corbet down. He then stayed on top of him seeming to try to grind Corbet into the ice.

Like I said — disgusting and disturbing. That’s a man who should have had to pass a psychiatric evaluation before being allowed near people again.

There won’t be any bloodshed like that tonight — this isn’t the wild 90s anymore, and the rivalry between the two teams is over.

But I will always have a little bit of hate in my heart for the goon Brendan Shanahan.

Next: TBT: Patrick Roy Changed the Face of Hockey