Jim Matheson did a good article about Matt Clackson’s dad, Kim. Matt Clackson is the guy that Sheldon Souray recently broke his hand on fighting. Kim Clackson was a pugilistic warrior, himself, having gone against the likes of Dave Semenko in an epic battle that just didn’t seem to ever end (they fought 3 times in the same altercation). Here’s an excerpt from Dave Semenko’s autobiography, Looking Out For Number One, on the events that transpired:
All hell broke loose one night when Clackson cut Gretzky, who’d been cruising through the crease. I was away from the play but Mark Messier was in the neighborhood, so he went right after Clackson. The linesmen had them separated and Clackson was in the penalty box when I got into it with Russ Anderson and we were sent off, too.
The fights were still going on out on the ice. I sure wasn’t prepared to just sit there in the penalty box like a statue, so I said to hell with it and hopped out of the penalty box, turned around, and invited Clackson to come out. Now here I am, standing at the door to their penalty box, trying to get at him. But while I’m throwing lefts at Clackson, Anderson’s trying to grab my arm. The two of them were both trying to get hold of me and drag me into their penalty box.
Meanwhile, though I didn’t realize it, a brawl was breaking out behind me. Anderson saw it and went to find someone to fight. That left Clackson and me all alone. He wasn’t going to back down, so we went at it. The first thing I did was get his helmet off so I wouldn’t hurt my hand at all. I managed that and we thrashed around a little more. Then the linesmen came in and broke us up.
At that point, nobody was bothering me and everything seemed evenly matched, so I just watched the fight. But about a minute later Clackson wanted a rematch. He’d found his helmet, strapped it back on, and damned if he didn’t come right back after me. I got the helmet off him again and got on him pretty good until the linesmen came along and separated us a second time.
So I figured it was over. But guess who’s got his helmet strapped back on, looking for another piece of me? Clackson. We went at it a third time. Three times during one fight. That had to be a record.
My hands were sore from hitting this guy on the head, though you’d never know it from looking at him. He looked so innocent, with that baby face of his that almost impossible to mark. I had one good fight against him in Winnipeg when I got a lot of punches in and thought I’d rearranged a few features rather drastically. Yet when we lined up to play the next game, there’s Clackson without a mark on his face!
This to me is what an enforcer is all about. I miss those days. Semenko didn’t ask questions first… he just pummeled. He knew Gretzky was cut, and he knew Clackson was involved, even though unintentional. He knew that something had Mark Messier riled up too. That was how things were done back then – punch first, ask questions when you’re retired.
It may sound brutish to some, but to me, I feel that it’s too bad the game has changed the way it has. It would be a different world without the instigator and allowing players to police themselves. I’ve talked about this recently here, but I feel that today’s enforcer is a completely different player. If you can’t play the game as good as the average player, you’re not going to see any ice time. That might not be such a bad thing, I suppose, but those kinds of guys generally aren’t willing to risk being out of the lineup in order to keep order.
The heavyweights are generally a sideshow and have very little to do with keeping things in line. To me, the proof in that is when Andrei Kostistyn was train-wrecked by Kurt Sauer. Georges Laraque invited him to dance, and Sauer declined. Tom Kostopolous ended up fighting him in what was a good battle, but not any sort of lesson for Sauer at all (sorry I bring this one up a lot, and it may speak a bit more to Laraque’s inability to enforce these days due to being too nice of a guy). If this were the 80s and the Oilers had the same players then as we do today, along with Dave Semenko, Semenko would have jumped anyone that looked at Eberle, Hall or Paajarvi wrong, let alone allowed these guys to get hit from behind (which Eberle has), hit in the head, or hit hard (all 3 have been cranked pretty hard). I have no doubts MacIntyre would have done the same in that era too though. I have no bones with him, it’s where the game itself has gone that I take issue.