talks about The Enforcers
one of the seven special Speaker Series at LA Kings Hockey Fest ’09.
LAKings.com: When you were breaking into the NHL, who were the top tough guys around the league?
Daryl Evans: In my first year, we played the Oilers a lot and Dave Semenko comes to mind. He had a great reputation, a powerful punch and he commanded a lot of respect around the league. In the next couple of years guys like Bob Probert and Joey Kocur were guys who got involved quite a bit. Wendel Clark wasn’t a big guy but he fought all the heavyweights. George McPhee in the Rangers organization was another guy who wasn’t big but he had quick fists and would take on anybody. Guys in Philly had great reputations and lots of respect too.
LAKings.com: Who are some of the top tough guys you played with?
Daryl Evans: There are different types of enforcers. Some guys were just great fighters. I played with Wendel Clark in Toronto. Tie Domi was just breaking in as well then and there. Then there were guys who you just feared because they were a little crazy. They would do things to intimidate you by using their stick and hitting you from behind. They always kept you on your guard.
LAKings.com: Since you have been broadcasting, what tough guys impress you?
Daryl Evans: A couple of years ago, when Georges Laraque was doing a lot of fighting, he was a big strong guy and he would be at the top of the list. I think what we have seen is that the size of that player is now very well conditioned. They have great reaches and Georges in particular had a lot of power and could take a hit. Derek Boogaard is a guy now in Minnesota with a big body. Zdeno Chara in Boston is a high skill leveled player who packs a big punch. At 6-9, with 270 pounds, there is a quite of bit to him. With the Kings we had a real solid tough guy in Ryan Flinn. You have to be able to throw the punch and take the punch. Combine that with playing the game, those are the guys who have long careers.
LAKings.com: How has the role changed over the years?
Daryl Evans: When I first broke in, when those guys stepped on the ice you knew there was a real good chance that something would happen, that the gloves would come off. It was about whether the guy on your team would respond. More times than not, they would police what was going on on the ice and they knew when to go. Right now I think there is more of a gray area because of what we have seen in the past as it relates to intimidation. If you go back a few years ago you see the Todd Bertuzzi incident. Some guys don’t know what they can get away with and some guys can over do it. I think guys have restrained themselves. Fines and suspensions go along with the job so it is more about gauging it. Officials in the league are also policing it. When I broke in, it was more about the players policing it. I kind of favor that. I think more cheap stuff goes on now. Back then, if you stuck a guy with a cheap shot, sooner or later you are doing to put the gloves down or end up in a brawl.
LAKings.com: Going forward, do you think fighting will continue in the NHL?
Daryl Evans: I do. I can’t see it disappearing from our game, which is a very physical game. There is speed to it and the element of fighting is something fans like to see as well. Today look at Ultimate Fighting and things like that, there is a desire for it. I think if you allow the players to be able to play their role and do it the way they want to do it, it is very entertaining. Nobody wants to see a guy get pulverized, but a good fight between two guys who are willing to fight by putting down their gloves with no cheap shots is entertaining. I think that player now is being called up to be more of a well-rounded player and to play in more situations. I think you have also seen their skating improve. That starts at a younger age.
ABOUT DARYL EVANS
Entering his 11th season as the Kings radio commentator, Daryl Evans and veteran play-by-play announcer Nick Nickson are heard on all club radio broadcasts on flagship station KTLK AM 1150 and along the Kings Radio Network. During the 1998-99 season, Evans worked alongside Nickson as a back-up commentator, and along with his role on the radio, Evans is also an executive with the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, formerly serving as the facility’s General Manager.
A member of the Kings as a player from 1981-85, Evans scored the franchise’s most memorable goal in a game forever remembered as the “Miracle on Manchester.” Facing the heavily-favored Edmonton Oilers in the best-of-five first round of the 1982 playoffs, the Kings pulled off two huge upsets – one, in winning the series three games to two; and two, winning Game 3 of the series.
Down 5-0 in the third period of that game on April 10, 1982, the Kings steadily chipped away at Edmonton’s lead and tied the game with five seconds left in regulation. At 2:35 of the extra period, Evans, then a rookie, sent a shot over Grant Fuhr’s shoulder to seal an improbable end to an incredible game. Evans went on to lead the Kings in playoff scoring with 13 points (5-8=13) in 1982.