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VG x Goon: The Recap Strikes Back

 

Video By: Visual Grunt Media

Being a rookie on the Violent Gentlemen crew with just a year under my belt there are two things I know for certain: We’re batshit crazy about hockey and we know our way around a good time. Put those two together and that’s how VG events are born. We harness our passion for hockey and funnel it into an event fit for the masses. With the U.S. release of Goon: Last of the Enforcers on the horizon, we took it upon ourselves to challenge the status quo and create a unique experience. In the early stages of planning was when we realized screening the film wasn’t enough, so we doubled down and added a 2nd night of Goon action by hosting another famed VG Art Show.

When I found out the wonderful news that Goon: Last of the Enforcers was hitting the big screen in March of 2017 I was ecstatic. That excitement was slighted by the fact that March was only the release date in Canada. People like myself, fans below the U.S.’s northern border had to wait until September...

A September U.S. release seemed like an eternity compared to its Canadian debut. That “eternity” ended when we took over The Port Theater in Corona del Mar and turned it into VG headquarters once again. (cue the choir)  

The velvety blue ropes were placed with purpose to contain the patrons eager to watch the exclusive showing of this hockey flick. The doors were set to be opened at 8 pm, but that didn’t stop people from arriving hours earlier to ensure they had the best chance of getting a proper seat. While they stood in line with anticipation we were at work. One cog in the wheel that makes VG events special is the exclusive merch that is made and available for them. This event was no different with the exclusively licensed line of Goon apparel. So an important part of the set-up was having a prime spot for everyone to get their hands on this awesomely inspired gear.

We took things a step further. Each seat in the theater was graced with custom Highlanders rally towels to give the theater a resemblance of a hockey arena during playoffs.

We even had a surprise guest all the way from Halifax.

                     

That’s right Angus made it all the way to sunny Southern California to take pictures and have a couple nights of fun with the Gents. The doors opened and fans filed in only to be struck with the dilemma of deciding what Goon merch was going home with them.

What followed was what is normally on the checklist for attending a movie. Snacks and beverage of choice were purchased from the Port Theater’s great menu and the seats were filled. The only job left was for the projector to display the long awaited movie on the big screen.

A follow-up movie is like being a rookie on the first line with a proven vet. Sometimes its hard to meet expectations and coach ends up scratching them. I have good news, that doesn’t apply to Goon: Last of the Enforcers. This is said with no intent to exaggerate. Right out of the gate this movie had the crowd roaring with laughter. This film has no moniker of being “Goon 2” because it is meant to both stand alone as well as being the second chapter. ( I know, deep…) The original cast stayed intact while adding some new faces that mesh well with the tone of the flick. The hockey action didn’t disappoint, and if you pay close enough attention you may find some players that have “professional hockey player” listed before “actor” on their resume. As the movie came to an end the applause began. Smiling faces could be seen leaving the theater as the lights turned back on. Some last minute shopping was done by the few that didn’t take part before the movie started. Once they finished we closed down shop packed everything up and set our efforts towards the next night.

SoCal was in the midst of a heat wave in late August. Luckily for all in attendance, the second night of this event took a turn for the cooler. Literally, We had the art show in a hockey rink. An art show inspired by a hockey movie at a hockey rink. Pretty genius if you ask me. As we arrived and were setting up, youth hockey clinics were taking place only adding to the ambiance. The doors were set to be opened at 8 pm. That was slightly altered due to said youth clinics. (That ambiance really bit us in the ass). Angus was tasked with keeping the lengthy line entertained while the finishing touches were made.

We transformed a standard Olympic ice rink into something truly special. Lights? We didn’t need them. We brought our own and placed them decisively to make sure the focus was on the art. Custom banners hung over the player's bench that boasted the names of worthy Highlanders.

Our merch table found its' home for the evening and featured new products that accompanied the ones available from the night before. We also had limited prints of some the awesome pieces of art that were submitted and on display at the event.

                                 
                                           
Find these prints in our Goon Collection

The Penalty box was given the night off and was tasked with the duties being a photo booth fitted with sticks, gloves, and helmets for people to capture their excitement. Angus thought he was receiving multiple minor penalties because of how much time he spent in there taking pictures with fans. All the awesome pics can be found here. The original Goon movie was also being projected in black and white with the sound off to add an artistic “cherry on top” to the event.

Quick question, what’s an art show with out art? If I had to guess It’s probably just a bunch of confused people staring at blank walls. Luckily we had featured pieces from these talented artists: Luke Wessman, Gustavo Jaimes, Jay Weinberg, Blake Stevenson, Doc Reed, DKNG, Unsung MFG, Johnny Vampotna, London Reese, Billy Baumann, Forefathers Group. They were able to pull themes from the movie and create truly unique pieces of art. Make sure to give them a follow if you’re on social media. If you’re not on social media, realize it's 2017, step your game up, get on social media and give them a follow.                  

            

VG is “humongous big” fan of commitment as Bryzgalov would so eloquently put it.

To reward the commitment for everyone in attendance who RSVP’d on our Eventbrite page we had a raffle. We dusted off our golden raffle ticket drum to give away a Warrior Hockey stick signed by the cast of Goon: Last of the Enforcers. We’re no one trick pony though. That's why we threw some gift cards into the mix (none of the wimpy $10 b.s.). We were raffling off some beaucoup bucks to our site. The biggest one being a mammoth $200. The silent crowd stood in anticipation as numbers echoed through the rink. Only to be interrupted by the exclamation of excitement from the ones who heard their numbers called.

 

Eventually, all the prizes had been claimed the music was cranked back up and before we knew it the event had reached the finish line, and I'd like to think everyone who was there was a winner. 

Violent Gentlemen wants to extend a huge thank you to both The Port Theater and Anaheim Ice for being stellar hosts. The biggest thank you of all goes to everyone who made it out! Whether it was one night or both nights, without rad people coming out for a good time we’d be a bunch of dudes just standing around wondering if we forgot to send out the invites. Keep your ear to the ground for rumblings of our upcoming events. See you next time.

 

Tales of Violent Gentlemen: Deryk Engelland

  If you had to place a bet on who would be the first player to get into a fight as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights, odds are you’d pick Deryk Engelland. The veteran defenseman has racked up nearly 50 regular season fights in his NHL career.

Fighting has always been a part of his game, and although Engelland is 35-years-old now, he doesn’t expect that to change anytime soon. This year, he’ll be patrolling the blue line for the Golden Knights, but he’s no stranger to Las Vegas. He started his career there in the East Coast Hockey League and it’s now where he and his family call home.

Before Engelland and the Golden Knights start their historic season, Violent Gents caught up with him to talk about the bright lights of Las Vegas and how he’ll be bringing his brand of hockey to the Strip.

Violent Gentlemen: How did you feel when you were selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft?  

Deryk Engelland: As a free agent, I didn’t really think I’d be involved in the expansion draft. I was kind of surprised when they used their window to talk to me. That suggested to me they were interested. That was the first real glimpse of it. So, on the Sunday there was a possibility. We kind of waited and paced around all day Monday. Then, on Tuesday, we got a deal worked out and they told me they wanted to take me. So, really, on the Tuesday afternoon before the expansion draft, that’s when it all came into place for us.

 

VG: A lot of players worry about trades and new signings, but you and your family live in Summerlin in the offseason. What did signing with the Golden Knights mean to you and your family?

DE: It meant a lot. I’m getting up there in age, I’m 35 now, so hopefully, I’ve got a few more good years left, but to be able to come home and play in front of friends and family means the world. My kids get to stay in their school with all their friends and my wife doesn’t have to quit her job. It meant a lot to be able to come home and be a part of the whole process here.I get to play at home and take my boys to games in Vegas. It’s where it all started for me with my career in the East Coast Hockey League.

 

VG: You were reunited with former teammate Marc Andre-Fleury. What will he bring to the club this season?

DE: He’s a great goaltender. He’s won three Cups. He didn’t finish last year, but without him in net, that Washington series could’ve gone the other way. He’s a world class goalie, but he’s a great friend and he’s always fun to be around. There’s never a bad day for that guy. He comes to the rink happy. He just brings excitement. Whether it’s drills or bag skates, he’s doing something funny and making it a lot more fun with him in there.

 

VG: Some people like to joke that Vegas will have an incredible home record against visiting teams. Do you think there’s any truth to that?

DE: It doesn’t matter what city you’re in, whether it’s New York or wherever. If you want to go out and have a drink or two or too many, you’re going to do it no matter what city you’re in. I think everyone at this level can be professional about everything. You pick your spots for when’s a good time to go out with the boys. If you’re going out all the time, it’s going to catch up with you and you’re not going to be able to perform to the level you want.

 

VG: You’re one of the elder statesmen on the roster this season, how do you see your role in helping the young guys on and off the ice?

DE: I’ve been trying to be a good leader wherever I’m at. There’s different ways you can do that. Taking guys out for lunch on the road or here in town, little things like that make the difference. Sometimes when they’re plugging away in the AHL, they’re not making as much money, so you treat ‘em and it goes a long way. When they’re in the same situation, they’ll be doing that for the younger guys as well. Taking the young guys under your wing is a huge part of playing.

 

VG: You racked up a lot of penalty minutes in the early part of your career, but you’ve tapered off over the last few years. How has your approach to the game changed?

DE: I just try to stay out of the box with those little penalties that hurt your team. If you’re in the right position, you stay away from those penalties. Fighting is still a part of my game and that’s where I get the majority of my penalty minutes these days.

 

VG: You had nine fights last season, do you expect to continue this type of play with the Golden Knights?

DE: That’s been my role my whole career. That’s how I got to this level, so it’s a big part of my game. I like to go out there and protect the boys after a bad hit or something like that. If the team’s not playing well go, I’ll try to go out there and find a spark. Even if I’m not having a good game, I’ll try to go out and find one and maybe it changes my game around.

 

VG: You’ve racked up a lot of fights in your career, who was the toughest opponent you’ve ever faced?

DE: Oh god, there’s been a lot. Obviously, I fought McGrattan once and he dropped me, so that wasn’t a highlight. He’s a tough guy.

Colton Orr, I had great fights with him all the way from junior until now.

There’s so many guys I could name off that are extremely tough in different ways, but there’s not one that sticks out more than the others.  

 

VG: In your opinion, who’s the toughest guy in the league right now?

DE: Ryan Reaves is one of the tougher guys in the league right now. He’s a big guy and he throws hammers. But pound for pound, I’d say Tanner Glass. He’s a tough guy and he fights everyone. He’s not the biggest guy but he’s a good fighter.

Another guy that comes to mind is Michael Ferland. I don’t think he’s quite figured out just how tough he is yet. Once he settles in and fights a couple heavy weights and finds out how tough he is, I think he can do some damage.

He throws heavy, but I don’t think he has the confidence yet. Over time, I think when he gets a few more fights under his belt he’ll be able to see how well he can handle himself and that will do him a lot of good.

 

VG: These next few questions come from our readers and fans of the Golden Knights.

 The Sin Bin wants to know who’s your realtor, and how much of a commission is he or she giving you for all these NHL player referrals?

DE: I don’t even know my realtor’s last name, I just know him as Chowder. He’s been my realtor for the last few houses and he’s a friend. I’ve been hooking him up a little bit but I haven’t worked out a commission with him yet. Maybe if I do some real estate stuff in the future, he’ll cut me a little bit of a deal.

 

VG: David aka @ItsMcAvoy73 is curious as to who was your favourite player growing up?

DE: It’s tough not to go with Gretzky. I grew up in the Edmonton area and my family were all diehard Oilers fans, so you are kind of bred into it, especially during the dynasty era in the ‘80s. It would be tough not to go with him or Paul Coffey. It would be one of those two for me.

 

VG: Matthew Macaskill aka @habsology has a tough one for you. He wants to know who will be the first Golden Knights captain?

DE: That is a tough question. Not being around all the guys yet, you don’t know everybody’s personality or how vocal they are or what their tendencies are on and off the ice. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess. I don’t think I could even answer that right now. Jason Garrison, maybe. I’d throw his name out there.

 

VG: Fletch aka @hawkeyguy says that someone always surprises at each NHL camp. Who do you think has flown under the radar and will open eyes of team management?

DE: Off the top of my head, Alex Tuch. He’s coming in from Minnesota and was a really high draft pick. I was able to see him at the rookie development camp and watching him for some scrimmages, I hate to say it, but it looked like it was a man playing against boys. He was bigger and stronger than everybody else. Being in Minnesota, obviously they’re pretty deep, so coming here he has a good opportunity to turn some heads and push for a spot.

 

VG: Ryan aka @OneTimer87 wants to know, craps or roulette?

DE: I’m more of a roulette guy. Craps is too up and down for me.

 

VG: David aka @david_spurs_99 has got ice cream on the brain. He wants to know what’s your favorite flavor?

DE: I’m more of a frozen yogurt guy, but right now it’s definitely salted caramel pecan.

 

VG: We’re not sure what Rob Lee aka @GreenBosoms listens to, but he wants to know what’s your favorite music to get you pumped up before a game?

DE: I’m not too picky with music before games or anything. I’m kind of all over the map, I listen to everything. It all depends on my mood. Sometimes it’s heavy metal on the way to the rink, sometimes it’s rap. Sometimes my family is driving me and the kids are screaming in the back. There’s a good mix of it all.

 

VG: Finally, speaking of tunes, what should the Golden Knights goal song be for next year?

DE: That’s really tough. I would have to say something along the lines of Chicago’s goal song. Something that’s really catchy, so much so that when they score against you, you’re singing it in your head on the ice, even when you shouldn’t be. My wife just said as long as it’s not “Viva Las Vegas.”

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VG x GOON: Penalty Box Photos

 Click on a photo to open the gallery. Enjoy.
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Tales of Violent Gentlemen: Nate Thompson

 Nate Thompson is a warrior. He plays his game with an edge, and although he doesn’t fight as often as when he first broke into the league more than ten years ago, he can still throw his fists when he needs to.

 Off the ice, he battles just as hard. Last year, he missed most of the regular season while he recovered from an Achilles’ tendon injury. With fierce training and determination, however, he returned to form and was an integral part of Anaheim’s playoff run to the Conference Final.

 After spending the last three seasons with the Ducks, not far from Violent Gentlemen HQ, Thompson is heading north to play for the Ottawa Senators. Before Nate trades the sunshine of Southern California for Canadian winter, Violent Gents caught up with him to talk about his NHL experiences and his upcoming transition. 

 

Violent Gentlemen: You’re among a handful of active NHL players who hail from Alaska. What was it like growing up in Anchorage?

 Nate Thompson: It was a great place to grow up. With the winter, we had a lot of time to be outside and play at the outdoor rinks and on the ponds. I think that was one of the biggest things I remember about growing up and playing hockey in Alaska, is being able to skate outside for such long periods of time. I feel like I really improved as a player by doing that. We had a lot of pretty good players in the minor hockey system who came out of Anchorage, but we had to leave the state to get our real competition. If we played in Alaska we usually just beat everybody. Overall, being able to experience the outdoors, to fish and hunt and do all those things and play hockey, it was just a wholesome way to grow up.

 

VG: Alaska has an abundance of wildlife, and you’re an avid angler and hunter. What’s your best fishing story?

 NT: I actually caught my first red salmon on a Snoopy pole. You know, one of those rods you get from a toy store. I was just sitting on the bank and I was fishing for a little bit. I was two or three years old at the time, so obviously my attention span was a little short. I laid my pole out on the rocks and ran off and did whatever two or three-year olds do at that age.

So, my Dad walks over to my Snoopy pole and sees that the rod was bent. Once he realized there was a fish on it, he grabbed it. The fish didn’t really realize it was hooked yet, it was just kind of swimming around, so he managed to get it to come in closer. Just before the Snoopy pole was about to snap, he tackled the fish right on top of the water and was able to push it up onto the bank. That’s how I caught my first fish. I was hooked.

 

VG: You’re from the north, but since 2009 you’ve been playing in warm climates of Tampa Bay and Anaheim, how will you cope with Canadian winter this season?

 NT: Warm coats, hats, gloves, and boots! I think it’s going to be fun. I’ve been playing in warm weather for a while now, but I’m pretty excited to play in hockey weather. The holidays will feel more like the holidays. I’m also getting to play in a Canadian market, which is even better. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and I don’t think the change in the culture and weather should be too difficult.

 

VG: What drew you to sign with the Senators this past summer?

 NT: I think it was a number of things. Obviously, when a team is interested in you that’s always good. When a team wants you, you’re excited to go there. Knowing how well they did and seeing their success, they’re in a window to win right now so that’s exciting.

 

VG: You’ve been coached by Guy Boucher before when you were with the Lightning, how do you think it will be to adjust to his system in Ottawa?

 NT: I’ve played with Guy Boucher when I was in Tampa, so I have that familiarity with him so that definitely helps. I think it will be an easy transition. I think playing for Guy before, knowing his system and what he expects, knowing how he coaches, that’s going to make it a lot easier for me. He already knows what type of player I am and what I can bring to the table. I think for me, I’m just going to try to be a complementary player and go in there and play my game and do the things that made me successful and kept me in the league for so long. I think that’s the biggest thing, just going in there and be myself and just try to help the team win.

 

VG: You sat out most of the 2016-17 regular season while you recovered from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. What was the key for you to battle back from this serious injury?

 NT: I’ve always been a guy who works hard and trains hard, but I don’t think I’ve ever trained that hard in my entire life. As soon as I got hurt, I was going to the gym right away, even when I was in a walking boot. I was really taking it to another level. I think that because I took it that seriously, I was able to stay on top of it. It was the hardest I ever trained and that hardest I’ve ever gone to get back. I think that helped me mentally too. Whenever you go through a serious injury like that, the mental part is even harder than the physical. I think it was just believing that I can come back and still be a really good player and be effective.

 

VG: Can you describe what the Violent Gentlemen means to you?

 NT: I think Violent Gentlemen means more than fighting. Obviously, that’s a part of it, but I think you can use it in many different ways. You can use it in hockey and in many other sports. I think that’s the coolest thing about the brand and the logo, is that it has so many different meanings. You look at how we go out there and kill each other in a playoff series and then after we’re shaking hands. I think especially in hockey, that is exactly what Violent Gentlemen is.

 

VG: You don’t fight as often as when you first came into the league. How has your game changed since you’ve established yourself as a full-time NHL player?

 NT: When I came up from the minors I fought more back then. I’m a guy that will still fight when I have to and stick up for teammates, I don’t mind it. But, I think it’s one of those things that as I got further into my career, I started to have more of an impact on the game. Whether it’s taking face-offs or killing penalties, I was being used up and down the lineup. I think the biggest thing for me was having that impact and being a player who was used in different situations, I think that that’s one of the reasons I started to fight less was because I was playing more. When you’re playing more minutes, you need to be on the ice.

 

VG: Who’s the toughest opponent you’ve fought?

 NT: There’s a few that come to mind.

 I fought Dan Carcillo, he was a tough guy. There’s certain guys who you fight against and they throw punches differently than others, and he’s one of those guys who throws heavy punches.

 

 Fighting Tim Gleason was another one where I was punching way above my weight class. That was one where I was hoping I’d get in and get out pretty quickly.

 

 Mike Brown was a guy who would hit you three or four times before you even threw a punch.

 

 Another guy who was always ready to fight no matter what was Ian Laperrière. He just always showed up.  

 I respect all those guys, it’s not an easy job. I don’t consider myself as someone who fights all the time, but I know what it’s like. I have the utmost respect for all the guys who do it night in and night out. I think it’s so undervalued and still a huge part of our sport.

 

VG: You wouldn’t be cast as an enforcer, but you certainly have that edge to your game. Where do you see the role of that type of player in the game going in the coming years?

 NT: I think it has been evolving the last few years. You see the guys that fight and the guys who are still playing regular shifts. You look at a guy like Matt Martin, he’s kind of the prototypical enforcer now. He’s a guy who will fight anybody but plays a lot of quality minutes and usually leads the league in hits every year. You have guys like that and that’s where I think the enforcer role is going. You’re not going to see a guy who’s going to play two or three minutes, fight, and be done for the night. We’re in a time now in the league where coaches are using all four lines to win, so every guy has to be able to play.

 

VG: Pound for pound, who’s the toughest player in the league?

 NT: When I think of the toughest guy in the league I think of Ryan Reaves, I think everybody would probably agree. But pound for pound? I’m trying to think of a smaller guy who can chuck ‘em pretty good. I fought that Ferland kid from Calgary and he’s a pretty tough kid. He can chuck ‘em pretty good, so I’d put him in that category.

 

VG: Kyra Gaylor (@kyragaylor) wants to know what was your favourite moment as a member of the Anaheim Ducks?  

 NT: There’s a few really good ones but I think I’d have to go with when we were down 3-0 against Edmonton with three minutes left and came back to win it in double overtime. It’s hard to top that just because I don’t think that will ever be done again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv6NXJv37Y0 

 

VG: Looking ahead to next season, what are you looking forward to most about joining the Ottawa Senators?

 NT: I’m looking forward to being in Canada and playing for a Canadian team and getting to experience playing against Montreal and Toronto. Getting to experience Hockey Night in Canada on Saturdays, all those things you watch when you’re on the road in Canada. Just the novelty of it, you know, Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, all that stuff, those are the things I’m excited about. And obviously going to Ottawa and getting the chance to win. It’s the best of both worlds, you get to go to Canada and play in a great market and be on a good team.

 

VG: This one actually comes from Hammer at Violent Gents. Your roommate and best friend just finished an extensive training program. What inspired Eddie to become a professional good boy?

 NT: I think what inspired him was that he gets more treats and he gets more praise. It’s like anything, you do a good job and you get rewarded.

 Good boy, that Eddie.

Tales of Violent Gentlemen - Ryan Reaves

Violent Gents Q and A: Ryan Reaves and Enforcing the Game

For the past seven years, Ryan Reaves patrolled the ice for the St. Louis Blues. During that time, he racked up 695 penalty minutes and was engaged in nearly 60 regular season fights. Now, the hard hitting forward finds himself on a new journey, as he was recently traded to the reigning Stanley Cup C

hampions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. As Reaves prepares to take his style of play to Steel City, Violent Gentlemen caught up with him to talk to him about his role in the game and what he can expect as he transitions into black and gold.

 

Violent Gentlemen: What does the Violent Gentlemen brand mean to you?

Ryan Reaves: It’s tough for people to realize the job that some of these guys do, and especially ten years ago and before that. I think that everybody has the misconception that when you’re a fighter on the ice, you’re a boxer or an MMA fighter, and that’s your personality off the ice too. And that couldn’t be anymore wrong for 95% of us. I don’t have that mentality off the ice at all. I’m definitely not a big confrontation guy when I’m off the ice. I like to joke around a lot, I like making people laugh. You look at other guys around the league, you look at [George] Parros, who is an absolute genius, [Kevin] Westgarth and these guys who have college degrees and are really smart. You just don’t see that side of guys when you’re looking at the ice.

 

VG: Where were you when you found out you were getting traded to Pittsburgh?

RR: I was in my basement playing ping pong with my brother. I completely forgot it was the draft and one of my buddies, Chris Stewart, called me and asked if I was getting traded. I said, ‘I don’t think so,’ but right before that, Blues GM Doug Armstrong actually texted me and told me to call him. So, I jumped on Twitter quick and I looked at some of the rumours and it said I was getting traded for what looked like a first rounder. The next one said ‘Reaves for Crosby,’ so I texted my buddy back and said, ‘I don’t know what you’re looking at or why you’re believing what’s on Twitter.’ But then I called Army back and he said I was traded to Pittsburgh.

 

VG: You’ve spent your entire NHL career in St. Louis. What do you think it will be like to go back there in February when the Blues host the Penguins?

RR: Luckily, I get to get one of them out of the way right away, we open at home against St. Louis. I don’t know what it’s going to be like to go back to St. Louis, obviously it’s going to be an emotional day. I’m hoping I get a round of applause, immediately followed by some boos because I wrecked somebody on the team. That’s how I’m hoping that day goes.

 

VG: How do you feel about moving to the Eastern Conference?

RR: I’m not exactly sure. I think a lot of the times you play in the East, it’s a little more wide open, it’s not as tight checking, and not as much physical play at times. But that’s me just playing every team there once in a while.  

 

VG: The two players who led the league in hits last season were both from the Eastern Conference, and they each tallied more than 300 of them. You surpassed the 200 mark for the fourth-straight season, do you think you’ve got 300 hits in you for this year?

RR: You know what, that’s a tough stat because different rinks score hits different way. I know there’s rinks where you can rub a guy out very gently and get a hit, and there’s other rinks where unless the guy is on his back crawling back to the bench you won’t get a hit. I think that’s more just the rinks you play in more.

 

VG: When Penguins GM Jim Rutherford traded for you, he said, “We won the Cup two years in a row, and teams played us even harder than they usually do.” How do you think your style of play will lend itself to the ultimate goal of winning that third straight championship this season?  

RR: I’ve been on the other side of that against Pittsburgh. When I was with St. Louis, it was always get after their top guys, play them physical. I think I’m going to step in and my presence might make guys think twice. I think I have a good enough reputation around the league that if you’re going to go after my top players, you’re going to spark a little something in me and I’m going to come after you. I think I molded my game now to be a little quicker now so I can catch some of those top guys in a game, so I think, first and foremost, I’m bringing some presence to that team.

 

VG: In terms of deployment, in addition to your tough style of play, do you envision transitioning into more penalty kill time in Pittsburgh the way you did in St. Louis?

RR: I would definitely like to be on the penalty kill. I used to kill when I was younger and I really enjoyed it. I took a lot of pride when I was doing it, so if it’s something I can step into and help the team do, I’d definitely love to do that.

 

VG: Who has been your biggest influence as a player?

RR: I’ve always said Alex Steen was my favorite player. Obviously, I don’t play his style at all, but the work ethic he brings to the team and the battles he gets himself into really inspired me. He’s definitely been an inspiring player to play with.

 

VG: How about when you were younger, who did you look up to?

RR: I always liked Patrick Roy, believe it or not. I liked being a street hockey goalie. I liked playing goalie on the ice too, I just didn’t do it a whole lot. I was always a big Avalanche fan when I was younger, so Patrick Roy was my number one guy, but Peter Forsberg was another guy. He was powerful on the puck, and he brought the puck to the net with purpose. He was big on the fore-check and he had a lot of skill too, he was a hell of a plyer. He would be the player I look up to the most.

 

VG: Some people believe that the era of enforcers is coming to an end. How do you see your role in the game?

RR: I think it’s still a very necessary part of hockey. I think we’re going to an area right now where they’re trying to eliminate the role and you’re going to see a lot of superstars go down because there’s nothing to answer to. In my gut, I think we’re going to see a lot less fighting in the next five years, but then things are going to pick back up again. I think there will be a lot more enforcers and players like me coming back into the league. I don’t think the NHL can afford to lose superstars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

 

VG: Do you recall your first fight? What was going through your mind.

RR: It was actually in my first game. I remember George Parros was chasing me around the ice the first period, and I was like, ‘let me get a couple shifts under my belt and then we’ll talk.’ If you’re going to have to go Parros, that’s a hell of a way to start your career. Before that happened, Kyle Chipchura came after me after I ran somebody.

So, we started throwing and all of a sudden, all my equipment’s off. I guess all the adrenaline of playing in my first game, I didn’t have my strap tied down. I finished that game with two minutes of ice time, three hits, and 15 minutes of penalties. Quite the first game.

 

VG: Speaking of George, you and him have some history. What do you recall from when the two of you tussled in Montreal back in 2013?

RR: I just took a run at Doug Murray, and I don’t know why Dougie just didn’t come after me, but Parros came out for the draw and I knew he was looking right me. It was actually right after that big fall of his where he got that concussion, so I remember we were both throwing and catching each other with some.

At the very end he went, and I looked at him to make sure he was okay and gave him a tap on the pads. All I remember was, he kind of fell weird on the ice after the fight was over, and I just didn’t want him to hit his head again. He’s another guy who I had a lot of respect for.

 

VG: Who was the toughest opponent you’ve ever faced?

RR: By far, Brian McGrattan. We had been jostling for a couple of games before the fight and when we faced off, they were killing us in the game, they just had all the momentum. I looked at him and said, ‘let’s go’ and he looked at me like I wasn’t serious.

The puck dropped and I dropped my gloves, and I’m pretty sure I cut him over his eye but when I got back to the box, I had four golf balls on the top of my head.

I woke up the next morning and my neck was stiff. I remember that day was Super Bowl Sunday and I could not move my head to save my life. But it was a good fight though. I think we both caught each other a couple times, but that was definitely the hardest fight I’ve been a part of.

 

VG: For your money, who is the most underrated tough guy in the NHL? That question comes from Twitter user @koobs87

RR: I might be a little biased here, but I’ve got to say Chris Stewart. He throws both, he’s a big boy. He fights a little different than I do. He gets really amped up, the adrenaline is pumping, and you can see it in his face when he fights. I think he’s one of the more underrated fighters in the league.

 

VG: You have the physical side to your game, but you also set career highs in goals and points last year. How have you adapted your game and style over the past few years?

RR: A lot of it has to do with my summer training. I used to go to the gym and sit there for three hours, strictly pumping iron and trying to get as big and strong as I could. I still skated, but I think I focused too much on the strength aspect. I was also five or six pounds heavier when I was doing that. Over the last year, I did a lot less weights and a lot more powerful movements with my legs. A lot of jumping, a lot of jumps with weighted vests, I skated with weighted vests, and did sprints. I didn’t sit in the gym for three hours. I did a workout where I could still be strong but where I didn’t get too big, and I definitely skated a lot more. I skated with a coach down in St. Louis, I did one-on-one sessions with him for a week, two times last summer and I then brought that back to Winnipeg with me. I think I just focused more on power in my legs, getting faster, and the skill aspect of hockey.

 

VG: The blog St. Louis Game Time wanted me to ask you this one. Who would you rather fight, Chaser [Kelly Chase] straight up or Panger [Darren Pang] with your right hand tied behind your back?

RR: Darren Pang with both hands tied behind my back. Wait, does Panger get a chair to stand up when he fights me or is he fighting on the ground?

 

VG: They didn’t specify…

RR: Those are big factors. If he has a chair then maybe I’ll just have my left hand undone, but if he’s on the ground he can’t reach that high so I’ll have both hands tied behind my back.

 

VG: Here’s another one from Twitter. @MisterMcJacob wants to know if you think you’ll finish with more fights than goals next year?

RR: I’m going to go with a split. I think I’m going to have ten of each next season.

 

VG: We’ll finish with another hard hitting and very important question from Twitter. @taeksguy wants to know if you like pineapple on your pizza?

RR: I do, I’m a Hawaiian guy, I don’t mind pineapple on pizza. I used to hate it back in the day, so it’s a new thing for me. It can’t be overbearing though, a couple pieces on every slice. You start getting too crazy and it’s too sweet of a pizza.

 

 

Tales of Violent Gentlemen - The Warehouse Crew

Meet Some of Our Violent Gentlemen

We know how excited you are when your Violent Gentlemen order arrives, and our crew is just as enthusiastic about putting it altogether for you. Although every package includes a tag that notes who bundled your purchase, it’s just a name. For you to better appreciate the work that goes into it, we wanted you to get to know the guys who actually make it happen, Chewey and Hunter. It’s only fitting. After all, they already know where you live, the least we can do is give you some insights about the gentlemen behind the scenes.

How long have you been working at Violent Gentlemen?  

Chewey: It's been a solid 2 and half years with these guys. 

Hunter: I would say about a year and some change.

 

Tell us something about Violent Gentlemen that we wouldn’t know. 

Hunter: At no point in time are we allowed to play Sublime in the warehouse.

Chewey: I’m pretty sure everyone here is a fan of Taylor Swift.

 

Do you actually have a process for how the candy and hockey cards go into each order? 

Chewey: No, I'll just toss one in every order. Unless you have a cool name or a familiar address/city I might throw in two. 

Hunter: I like to go greeting card, sticker, hockey card, my card, and then gummy bears but that’s just me.

          

If you were a character from Slap Shot, who would you? 

Hunter: Paul Newman of course, he’s my Dad.

Chewey: Steve Hanson (I'M LISTENING TO THE F****ING SONG!) 

Do you have an all-time hockey fighting moment?

Chewey: No, when I want to look up some good shots, I’ll just YouTube my boss.

Hunter: When I found out one of my bosses was George Parros, I looked up all his fights on YouTube. So, I would have to say when he knocked down Riley Cote in 2007-08 is my favorite. Watching one of my bosses knock someone down to the ground like that was epic. Still funny that someone as nice and generous as George used to beat people up for a living.

 

How do you take your Violent Gentlemen coffee

Hunter: I’d say mildly hot with a decent amount of creamer. I’m new to the coffee game so drinking it black is terrible, but I use less and less creamer each time.

Chewey: I usually like a little coffee with my creamer.

 

What tune should the Golden Knights use for their goal song? 

Chewey: “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine would be hard.

Hunter: Probably any Every Time I Die song they’re allowed to play in the arena.

 

What was the last album you downloaded?

Chewey: California by Blink 182.

Hunter: Jay-Z’s 4:44, it’s the best thing I’ve heard all year.        

 

What's your top experience at a Violent Gentlemen event? 

Hunter: Probably beating Brian in Ping Pong at the last sale we had. Big crowd, big game, big win for me.

Chewey: This is a hard question, but one of my favorites would be when the VG boys all went out to Phoenix and met up with the band Every Time I Die at Top Golf. We crushed some balls and appetizers. 

 

Who is an athlete you’d like to see decked out in Violent Gentlemen?

Chewey: Phil Kessel. He’s just normal dude with a Dad bod tearing it up on ice. I would like to see him with some VG gear. 

Hunter: I think if we got Mike Trout to rep some VG gear that would be so awesome. Best outfielder in baseball and he’s local to the Ducks and to us.

 

We hope this gives you a better appreciation for Chewey and Hunter, and all of the hard work they do here at Violent Gentlemen.

Tales of Violent Gentlemen - Hockey Card Edition

At Violent Gentlemen, we pay attention to detail. Every order is carefully packaged by hand by one of our associates. If you’ve ordered from us in the past, then you already know how each parcel includes a tag that notes who bundled your purchase, along with a hockey card and a packet of candy.

What you may not know is that, when our guys like Hunter or Chewey assemble your order, they are not pulling these hockey cards at random. Rather, they are carrying out a meticulous process that is often painstakingly difficult. The hockey card you receive is based on the sequence of your mailing code and how it relates to our secret algorithm at Violent Gentlemen. Typically, we like to keep this process under wraps, but in the interests of helping our customers better understand our inner workings, we’ve decided to crack open the vault.

In the United States, zip codes have five digits. When you order from us, we take your state’s zip code to determine which hockey card you’ll receive. The first two digits represent the year of an NHL season, the next two signify how a player ranked in penalty minutes during that campaign, and the final number is used as a tiebreaker. Confused? Don’t worry, here’s how it breaks down.

If you’re from Farwell in Clare County, Michigan, your zip code is 48622. Right off the bat, our packager knows to head into the archives and pull the statistical records from the 1947-48 NHL season. From there, they’ll be zeroing in on who racked up the 62nd most penalty minutes from that season. In this case, it would be Norman “Bud” Poile, who compiled 17 penalty minutes while splitting time with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks that year. But wait, Detroit’s Bill Quackenbush also had 17 penalty minutes that season, which means our packager needs to invoke the tiebreaker number. Since the final digit in the Farwell zip code is two, we have to divide each player’s total points by that amount. Whoever still has the higher number is the winner. During the 1947-48 season, Poile amassed 54 points, while Quackenbush only managed 22. Poile’s divided point output supersedes that of his Red Wings’ colleague, and now our Violent Gentlemen associate now knows which card to include in the order to Farwell, Michigan.

From there, they’d head into our vast hockey card repository, only to realize that a 1947-48 Bud Poile Maple Leafs card is incredibly rare. As they thumb through our collector’s guide, panic grips their chest as they realize this card, in mint condition, is worth thousands of dollars. Knowing that we couldn’t possibly part with something this valuable, they randomly grab a card out of the box of 2005-06 Upper Deck we keep in the warehouse and stuff it into your package. And, that’s how we determine which hockey card to include in every order.


Tune in again next time for more behind the scenes at Violent Gentlemen.

Tales of Violent Gentlemen - Fighting for the Stanley Cup

The final battle for hockey’s holy grail is about to commence. Although the competition will be fierce and the intensity will increase to a new level, don’t expect to see any fighting in the concluding clash for the Stanley Cup.

 

Since the 2004-05 lockout, there have been only three fights in the deciding matchup for hockey’s ultimate prize.

These days, players are critically aware that there is so much at stake and that getting into a tilt, particularly if you incur the instigator penalty, will put your team at a disadvantage.

The nature of hockey, however, lends itself to flare ups. Even with Lord Stanley’s mug on the line, tempers boil over and players may look to their fists to settle a score or send a message. 

Prior to the salary cap era, fighting in the Stanley Cup Final was still rare, but it had its place from time to time. There is perhaps no better illustration of this in recent memory than when Jarome Iginla and Vincent Lecavalier dropped the gloves in 2004. To be sure, the tenor of that series had already been set by two separate fights in the second game, but those dust ups were the handiwork of both teams’ noted pugilists.

When Iginla and Lecavalier collided six minutes into the third game, it signalled something more significant. This was a rare bout between two stars. Moreover, while Iginla had already established his reputation as a formidable player who could use his hands to be both score and fight, this was uncharted territory for Lecavalier. Nevertheless, the Lightning forward held his own in a spirited battle against a fearsome opponent, something that his teammates certainly homed in on.

Following the game, Tampa Bay’s captain, Dave Andreychuk noted that, “Vinny has taken charge in a lot of games for us, and he’s made the players around him better. That’s what he did tonight.” Although the Lightning lost that contest, Lecavalier’s heroics galvanized the team for the remainder of the series. Calgary and Tampa Bay would go on to play a hard-fought seven games, with the Bolts securing their first championship in franchise history.

When the quest for the Stanley Cup resumed in 2006, the tone set by Iginla and Lecavalier failed to carry over. The next three Finals were relatively quiet by comparison, until the Red Wings and Penguins squared off in a rematch in 2009. Detroit had vanquished Pittsburgh in their previous encounter, and now the Penguins were eager to exact their pound of flesh. In just the second game of the series, the Red Wings were up by a pair of goals in the final seconds of the third period. After Evgeni Malkin wired a desperate shot on Chris Osgood, Max Talbot followed up by driving his stick into the goaltender’s chest, knocking him over.

 

As tension began mounting around the net, Malkin zeroed in on Henrik Zetterberg and pulled him from the scrum.  As the two began trading shots, the Penguins fan base collectively held its breathe. Although Malkin never shied away from confrontation, he wasn’t exactly known for his fighting prowess. More importantly, he was the team’s leading scorer, a trend that likely wouldn’t continue if he injured himself in an altercation. Although Malkin skated away from the exchange unscathed, he prudently opted not to add to his fight card for the remainder of the postseason. Instead, he racked up six more points in the final games, leading Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup and taking home the Conn Smythe.

Two years later, in a rough Stanley Cup Final that even included biting as part of the extracurricular activities, only Ryan Kesler and Dennis Seidenberg officially dropped the gloves. With Boston holding a comfortable four goal lead in the fourth contest, they were just nine minutes away from closing out the victory and evening the series.

 

Perhaps, in an attempt to ignite his team, Kesler discarded his mitts and helmet and prepared to engage Seidenberg. The two had been jawing and shoving at each other all night when things finally came to a head. As the two began to grapple, Kesler threw a big right hand but only managed to graze the top of his opponent’s head. The pair fell to the ice where the melee was quickly broken up by officials. Kesler’s actions failed to activate his team and Boston went on to secure the shutout. A week later, the Bruins captured their first Stanley Cup in nearly four decades.

When Boston returned to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013, it seemed inevitable that one of their players would double as a combatant. Sure enough, in the dying seconds of the third contest, with the game well out of reach for the Blackhawks, Andrew Shaw and Brad Marchand got into a skirmish. Both players were ejected and received fighting majors, but this was more of a wrestling match than a donnybrook. Although Shaw landed a solid punch after the two collapsed to the ice, it was hardly lived up to its billing.  

 

Since then, there hasn’t been a brawl in the Stanley Cup Final. Although we’re unlikely to see a fight break out between the Penguins and Predators, we will see a battle.

It will undoubtedly be a hard-fought series that will change the place of either franchise on the hockey landscape. Pittsburgh could be the first team to win back-to-back championships in nearly two decades, only further cementing the legacies of its core players. Meanwhile, Nashville has the chance to win its first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Only time will tell which team rises up and enshrines itself into hockey lore.

Tales of Violent Gentlemen - Jonathan vs Bouchard

Respect, tradition, and sportsmanship are the cornerstones of our brand. It’s no coincidence that these fundamental characteristics are also synonymous with hockey, and have a rich history throughout the sport.

Whether it’s Montreal carrying members of Boston’s “Kraut Line” off the ice before the trio headed off to the Second World War, or the iconic exchange between goaltender “Sugar” Jim Henry and Maurice Richard after the Canadiens eliminated the Bruins from the postseason in 1952, there’s no shortage of examples to illustrate that, even amidst fierce competition, respect and tradition undergird our stories from the game.


To honor this legacy, Violent Gentlemen will be going into the vault each month to bring you tales from the past. In partnership with historian Mike Commito, VGHC will be exploring notable moments in hockey history that highlight the building blocks of our brand and the reasons we love hockey. 

Tales of Violent Gentlemen: Stan Jonathan Topples Pierre Bouchard

Three games into the 1978 Stanley Cup Final, neither the Bruins nor the Canadiens had taken a major penalty. The fact they hadn’t dropped the gloves was curious, but it wasn’t necessarily all that surprising. This was, after all, the championship series and there was far more on the line than simply winning a bout of fisticuffs.

Just a year earlier, the Bruins had bowed out in four games in the Final against the Canadiens, and had been forced to watch their rival hoist its fourth Stanley Cup of the decade. As a result, this matchup presented Boston with an opportunity to shake off the defeat from the previous spring and write a new script. It was, however, anything but a simple rematch. The Bruins had lost every playoff series against the Habs for over thirty years! The last time Boston beat Montreal in the postseason, 1943, Bobby Orr was still five years away from being born. Consequently, if the Bruins could vanquish the Canadiens this time around, not only would they be exacting retribution for last year’s defeat, but they would be avenging three decades of playoff futility against Montreal.  

And it wasn’t as though the Bruins were oblivious to this narrative. Before the series even began, many had expected the Canadiens to repeat and sweep the Bruins in four games. Heading into the fourth contest, however, Montreal was only up by a game and was just coming off being shut out at home. The results prompted Bruins head coach Don Cherry to speak his mind. “So much for the experts and their fearless predictions,” he said. “This team has character. I keep telling everyone that and they refuse to listen,” he continued. With his team now in a position to even the series, Cherry called on the Bruins to continue playing at their peak level of intensity. “We have not had a major penalty in this series, but don’t bet we may not get our first tonight,” he said. Cherry’s words proved to be prophetic.

Six minutes into the fourth game, on May 21, 1978, Boston’s Stan Jonathan and Montreal’s Pierre Bouchard bumped into each other after the whistle and dropped the gloves.

On paper, it appeared to be an uneven matchup. Bouchard was seven inches taller and had over thirty pounds on his opponent.

Jonathan, however, had already established himself as a scrappy and pugnacious player who refused to back down from anyone.

Among the roaring Boston faithful that night was Roger Neilson, Jonathan’s coach from junior and later a legendary NHL bench boss. He’d later comment that “Stan is a little like boxer Joe Frazier. He’ll take two punches to get in one of his own – and the one is a dandy.” Jonathan would certainly live up to that reputation.

As Jonathan and Bouchard began trading blows, it became clear that the size disparity was not a factor. Boston’s truculent winger seemingly took his opponent’s punishment without blinking, and responded in kind with some vicious haymakers of his own.

 

As the exchange continued, Bouchard continued pounding away with his right hand. Jonathan, undeterred, alternated to his left and connected with enough force to knock Bouchard down. At that point, the Montreal forward collapsed to the ice, and after a few more quick flurries, the fight was over. Although it barely lasted ten seconds, the Bruins’ bulldog had demonstrated why he was one of the most fearsome fighters, pound for pound, in the league. 

As Bouchard laid crumpled on the ice, blood was pouring from his nose, the spot where Jonathan had landed his coup de grace. There was, in fact, so much blood spurting out that it also covered the face of linesman John D’Amico, who had been kneeling over top of Bouchard.

The scene led the commentators to speculate that the official had been cut during the course of the altercation. Although it looked a lot worse than it was, it demonstrated that Jonathan, despite being undersized, was not to be taken lightly. 

In some ways, the outcome of that fight mirrored the perception of the Bruins in that series. The Canadiens were a much bigger team and few had given Boston much of chance. Nevertheless, Jonathan had won that fight in dominating fashion, proving that his ferocity and determination were capable of overcoming this or any opponent. The Bruins went on to win that game in overtime and even the series.  

For some, it appeared as though Jonathan’s heroics may have ignited his team and changed the tempo of the series. Following the game, Boston forward Mike Milbury noted “last year, there was none of that nitty-gritty we-hate feeling. Now there is because it’s a lot closer; it’s a more intense series, and because everybody realizes the Stanley Cup is on the line, and it’s really on the line. It’s for all the marbles.” Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be enough.

Stan Jonathan won the battle, but Boston lost the war. The Bruins dropped the next two games and were forced, once again, to watch the Canadiens parade about with Lord Stanley’s silverware. Boston would have to wait another decade before finally defeating Montreal again in the postseason.

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