Tim Benz: The Penguins’ Mount Rushmore of Hate
Here’s one I haven’t been able to shake for about a week.
While I was pinch hitting for Mark Madden on 105.9 the X last week, I was joined by Pittsburgh-born comedian Joe Bartnick. He’s excellent. If you saw him open for Bill Burr a few months ago here in town, you know what I mean.
A big hockey fan, Bartnick also hosts the “Puck Off” podcast. And when he was on with me, Bartnick brought up a recurring topic on his program: “The NHL Mount Rushmore of Hate.”
Sadly, Mount Rushmore is only four heads wide. From a Penguins perspective, that’s hardly enough room.
But Bartnick challenged me to come up with one. So here goes.
Now keep in mind, my frame of reference is basically from the early 1980s on. I was indeed alive during the Broad Street Bully-era Flyers. But I wasn’t even in kindergarten yet. And I had good parents. So they shielded me from watching such violence at a young, impressionable age.
That said, we will have more modern-era Flyers representation on this list.
The big goon from the Washington Capitals is George Washington on my Mount Rushmore. No doubt. Clear cut. Locked down. No. 1 seed.
He’s reckless. He’s dangerous. He’s unapologetic and unfazed.
That’s a dangerous combination.
Plus, he’s a good enough player that he gets ice time enough to be lethal often, and his role to be a headhunter is celebrated by the Capitals fan base and endorsed by the team.
And those are just guys with Pittsburgh ties! I don’t have enough space to list all the others. Here’s a reminder.
I told you we’d get to a Flyer quickly.
Come to think of it, Hartnell was such a ubiquitous pain in the backside to the Penguins, he managed to agitate the City of Pittsburgh in Philadelphia, Columbus, Ottawa and Nashville.
He always sported Sideshow Bob hair and then would complain if people pulled it in a scrum.
Often times, those were scrums he would instigate. The winger had 124 career penalty minutes against Pittsburgh, by far the most he accrued against any opponent.
Hartnell wasn’t quite as dangerous Wilson.
I said “quite.” Perhaps I should’ve written “quite as often.”
So that makes him a little less despicable. Which is kind of like saying Steelers fans hate Le’Veon Bell less than Antonio Brown.
Hartnell’s detestable reputation was built on being a cheap, chintzy, crap-disturbing annoyance.
Just ask Hulk Hogan.
And he scored 21 goals (counting playoff scores) against the Penguins. Just enough to really tick us off.
Outside of Pittsburgh, Graves has a sainted “good guy” reputation. He even won the Clancy and Masterton trophies during his career.
But while he was with the New York Rangers during the 1992 playoffs, the winger committed one of the most infamous and reviled acts in Pittsburgh sports history.
Graves even had the temerity to score a goal in the next game, before being suspended for the rest of the series because of that slash on Mario Lemieux.
Lemieux missed five games. But that didn’t stop the Penguins from winning the series and eventually the Stanley Cup title.
That won’t prevent us from putting Graves on the Mount Rushmore of Hate, though. Because of the good things he did off the ice, we’ll tuck him back in the corner like Teddy Roosevelt. But he still makes the list.
Hey, Joe never said it had to be all players.
Hate toward Tortorella has mellowed a bit in recent years since he and Mike Sullivan are close.
That’s not good enough for me.
His teams in Columbus and New York routinely attacked Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Then he usually made it sound like it was the fault of the Penguins in the first place.
Heck, he even got all “ Tortsy” by verbally going after an old man in general manager Jim Rutherford a year ago.
I’ll give him this one, though.
Yeah. That was funny. But if it had been Malkin’s or Crosby’s mom, he probably would’ve thrown the phone against a wall.
So Torts still makes “Mount HateMore.”