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Wednesday February 17, 2010 10:58 pm

The NHL’s most gentlemanly player: Val Fonteyne




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Editorial, NHL,

Val FonteyneIf you were asked to name the NHL player with the most penalty minutes in a game, you’d probably say Randy Holt with his 67 on Mar. 11, 1979. If you were asked the same question about a season, you’d know Dave Schultz had 472 in 1974-75. And everybody knows that Tiger Williams’ 4,421 career penalty minutes is first. However, you probably would have a hard time naming who has the least amount of penalties in these categories. Not even the NHL’s Official Guide and Record Book. Former NHL forward Val Fonteyne may be as good a guess as any to top those lists.

Fonteyne is regarded by some as the cleanest player in NHL history .Throughout his entire career, consisting of 820 games over 13 seasons, Fonteyne totaled just 26 penalty minutes. That’s 13 minor penalties total. In 149 games in the World Hockey Association, he added just four more. Those are incredible totals, considering it’s not uncommon for players to receive 10-minute misconducts. Not surprisingly, none of Fonteyne’s penalty minutes were a result of fighting. There have been single games that have delivered more penalty minutes than Fonteyne earned throughout his career.

The native of Wetaskiwin, Alberta grew up playing junior hockey in the WCJHL before moving to the Seattle Americans/Totems of the WHL. Seattle was not affiliated with any NHL clubs, so Fonteyne assumed his hockey career would top out in the minors. His solid two-way was not unnoticed by other teams though, including Bud Poile, coach of the Red Wings’ Edmonton farm team. Fonteyne was signed by Detroit and his clean, unselfish style earned him the respect of players throughout the NHL.

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy has been awarded to the NHL “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” It’s that last part that perhaps eliminates Fonteyne from being a 13-time winner of the award. In his 820 games, he scored just 75 goals and 229 points, but that should not at all take away from him his remarkable accomplishment. Perhaps the NHL should introduce a Val Fonteyne Trophy to honor gentlemanly players with not-quite-incredible skills.

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