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Fighting has been a part of hockey since the late 1800s, when there were no referees and players had to police themselves. But it wasn't really until the "Broad Street Bullies" — the Philadelphia Flyers teams of the 1970s — that fighting became a strategy for winning championships.
"Suddenly other teams were, like, 'Oh, that’s how you win. You play rough.' So teams started signing tougher players," says New York Times reporter John Branch. "And hockey entered this really violent era."
Soon, teams were all looking for the biggest and baddest guys to play the role of enforcer.
Enter: John Scott. He's 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, and he essentially built a career out of punching people in the face.
But Scott doesn't fit the stereotype of a fighter. In fact, he didn't even like fighting.
"Gosh, no," he says. "I don’t think anybody would enjoy getting punched in the face."
So how did he become a brawler?
"My coaches in college," Scott explains, "they sat me down, said, 'Hey, listen, you’re good, and you have one thing no one has, and that’s your size. Like, you can’t teach size.' "
Scott was signed to an NHL team soon after his first minor league fight.
But the start of his career as an enforcer also marked the beginning of a long struggle for Scott.
"I didn’t like it, obviously. I wanted to be a player first," he says. "But, again, you just do what you have to do to survive. And if that’s what I had to do, I did it."
To hear about John Scott's life as an NHL enforcer and his unlikely role in the 2016 All-Star Game, click the play button next to the headline at the top of the page.
This story was adapted from an episode of GameBreaker with Keith Olbermann, a new audio series available exclusively from Audible. The series will also introduce listeners to an Olympic swimmer who bucked the rules, an ultra-marathoner who feels no pain and much more.
This segment aired on March 10, 2018.
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