The NHL's Tough Players
The 2009 NHL playoffs will showcase players who echo past stars celebrated for their toughness. No one embodied that attribute more than Mr. Hockey. The Hall of Famer suffered a skull fracture in 1950 but played for a record 26 NHL seasons, scoring 801 goals and 1,850 points while winning six MVP awards and four Stanley Cups. A ''Gordie Howe Hat Trick'' is his signature goal, assist and fight in the same game.<br><br>Red Wings' defenseman Chris Chelios still plays a vital if limited role at age 47 in his 25th NHL season. No blueliner has skated in more games (1,644) than Chelios, who's been known to dish a little punishment while winning three Stanley Cups and three Norris Trophies.
The ultimate iron horse, Hall played in a record 502 consecutive games through injuries and without a mask. He won 407 games, a Stanley Cup and three Vezina Trophies during his 18 NHL seasons.<br><br>The NHL's leader in career victories (557), Brodeur played 70 or more games in a record 10 straight seasons before suffering a torn biceps last November. He returned in February, as good as ever, and hopes to add to his collection of three Stanley Cups and four Vezina Trophies.
Maple Leafs defenseman Baun made his legend in Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup Final by insisting on returning to the ice with a broken ankle and then scoring the winning goal in overtime against Detroit. The Leafs went on to win the Cup.<br><br>Capitals defenseman Pothier is up for the 2009 Masterton Trophy, awarded to the player who best embodies perseverance and dedication to hockey. He missed 14 months with post-concussion syndrome and optic nerve damage that left him unable to see normally. He returned to action in March and is playing between 15 and 20 minutes a night.
The Canadiens' Hall of Famer Richard has a trophy named after him -- awarded to the NHL's leading goal-scorer. The Rocket's offensive prowess (he was the first to score 50 goals in a season and the first to reach 500) was legendary, but so was his toughness. He never shied from a hit or a fight. Just ask Gordie Howe, his frequent sparring partner.<br><br>Iginla, the Calgary Flames' captain, has twice scored 50 goals in a season, and this year marks his eighth with 30 or more. He's also no one to trifle with, as he relishes rough and tumble play and will readily drop his gloves. Iginla had a classic bout with Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.
Rugged winger Clark was beloved by Maple Leafs fans for his skill and abrasive, intimidating play. He fearlessly took on enforcers and goons, and when injuries took their toll, became more of a scorer (he netted 46 goals in 1993-94), but still had a now-classic bout with Marty McSorley in the 1993 playoffs.<br><br>A gritty pest, Burrows is one of Vancouver's most hard-nosed and hard-working forwards. He ranked second on the team in goals (28) and penalty minutes (150) this season.
Perhaps the most feared enforcer of his time, Ferguson played for the Canadiens for eight seasons (1963-71) and made good on his promise to be ''the meanest, rottenest, most miserable cuss ever to play in the NHL.'' <br><br>Laraque, Montreal's current enforcer, is a feared fighter frequently cited by his peers as the NHL's toughest man.
The quintessential power forward, Neely led the Bruins in scoring seven times between 1986 and '96, topping 50 goals three times while battling injuries with a determination that earned him the Masterton Trophy in 1994.<br><br>Already a classic Bruins power forward at age 20, Lucic is a 6-4, 220-pounder who relishes big hits and scraps. He also scores the occasional big goal (he potted 17 this season, to go along with his 136 PIM) and his offensive upside has observers predicting a more Neely-esque output in the future.
The Flyers' 6-5, 220-pound enforcer of the 1980s, Brown could make foes back down with just a word, and was said to have never lost a fight. Brown was in plenty of them in the finest Broad Street Bullies tradition. After helping the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1985 and 1987, he moved on to Edmonton, where he won a Cup with the Oilers. <br><br>The 6-foot, 205-pound Carcillo brought his black-and-blue style from Phoenix via a deadline trade and is now a proud member of the current edition of the Bullies. Like Dave Brown before him, Carcillo can put the puck in the net, but spends much time in the sin bin. He led the NHL with 254 PIM this season, including 22 majors.<br><br>Send comments to email@example.com.
The classic Central Division (it was the Norris in his day) tough guy, Probert made playing the Red Wings an extremely unpleasant affair from 1985 to 1994 before taking his knuckles and cement jaw to Chicago in 1995 for another seven bruising seasons.<br><br>The enforcer for the Blue Jackets, who are making their first-ever appearance in the postseason ball, Boll was one of the league's most frequent combatants this season, dropping his gloves 24 times (second-most in the NHL).
Hall of Fame center Doug Gilmour overcame size issues (he was only 5-9 and 150 pounds when he was passed over in the 1981 NHL Draft) to become a tenacious checker with scoring touch for seven NHL teams from 1983-2003. It's worth noting that he was nicknamed ''Killer'' for his intensity.<br><br>One of the most hated, and clutch, performers in NHL history (he played the role of agitator and pest for four Stanley Cup champions), the abrasive Lemieux made a stunning return to the NHL this year at age 43, after five years in retirement, giving the Sharks some added bite and earning a nomination for the Masterton Trophy.