FN’s All-Time Greatest Flames Team: Tim Hunter

Back
in the day there wasn’t much of a Battle of Alberta. In fact, Oilers versus
Flames games were incredibly lopsided to the north. Night in and night out the
Flames would be dominated both physically and talent-wise by the dynasty up
Highway 2.

Then,
on October 12, 1982, a green 22-year-old kid named Tim Hunter stepped up
alongside the most feared enforcer in the Campbell Conference, the Oilers’ Dave
Semenko. The fight ended with Tim Hunter as the victor and from that game on,
the playing field was levelled in the Battle of Alberta. The Flames could now play
their star players without risk of being manhandled by one of the Oilers’ tough
guys. Hunter was one of the only enforcers in NHL history to give Semenko a
rough ride; so much so that the Oilers had to come up with an answer for this
new Flames kid. Their answer was Marty McSorley – the one fighter who could go
toe-to-toe with Tim Hunter.

Over
his career, Tim Hunter made short work of other team’s enforcers (and
legitimate goons) as well, including Glen Cochrane, Harold Snepts, Chris Nilan,
Gord Donnelly, Dave Brown and Ken Baumgartner as well as about a bajillion
others. Hunter took his role seriously and at a time when star players were
continuously targeted, Hunter remains to this day one of the most important role
players to ever wear the flaming ‘C’.

CAREER
STATISTICS

Just
take a look at that PIMs column for a minute. No quantifiable statistic shows
Tim Hunter’s sacrifice to the Calgary Flames more than his career penalty
minutes. That number particularly sticks out like a sore thumb in the 1988-89
season where he not only led the NHL in penalty minutes, but helped lead his
team to the franchise’s only Stanley Cup.


MOST
MEMORABLE MOMENTS

NSFW:

FLAMES
MILESTONES

  • Franchise leader in PIMs (2,405)
  • Single season franchise leader in PIMs (375)
  • Appears six times in the Flames top-10 single season PIMs leaders

LEGACY

It’s
no secret what Tim Hunter will be remembered for. He was an enforcer (not a
goon) and one of the best to have ever played the role not only on the Flames,
but in the NHL.

Hunter was also revered as a teammate and
leader. His leadership earned him shared captaincy alongside Jim Peplinski and
Lanny McDonald. Also, before there were in-house nutritionists and strength and
conditioning coaches, Hunter was looked upon to instil that knowledge to the
young players. Ultimately, that is the legacy Tim Hunter has left on the
Calgary Flames.

  • MattyFranchise

    A woman I used to work with ran a car wash in Calgary in the 80s where Hunter was a regular customer and she told me that Tim Hunter was one of the nicest men she had ever met.

  • everton fc

    One of my favourite Flames, along with Vandermeer, when he was here.

    Hunter never seemed to lose his lid much. Very rarely did you see him at the end of a fight without his helmet. He also rarely took his eye off a guy when he was in close throwing blows. And he could actually play hockey.

  • Train#97

    Well, if Pepper was a controversial choice, you’ve made another one. (Checks calendar, not April 1)

    Love Hunter. Made me money on a hockey pool in 1988-89 where we had to have 1 player who was a “goon” and we got 1 pt per 5 PIM’s. Hunter was awesome.

    375 minutes. 75 points.

    A buddy had Probert and wanted points for time served for all the games his missed (50+ i think ) due to suspension from his drug bust. Didn’t get them.

    Same year Roberts had 250PIM, Pepper north of 240. And the Flames still won all those games. Amazing.

    Tim Hunter was great Flame. By all accounts he is a great guy.

    But.

    He’s not on the greatest Flames team ever (unless you’re just listing the 1988-89 team) and should not be on this list.

  • BurningSensation

    Tim Hunter was a total beast on the ice, and a fabulous human being off of it.

    He had the strength and raw power to hang with even the gooniest of goons, and his role as team policeman was (at the time) not only useful, but necessary to Calgary succeeding.

    Have to agree that he isn’t technically one of the best players, but he was the best at what he did (just that what he did wasnt always very nice).

    Love him

    • Train#97

      Did his job how it was supposed to be done.
      I remember him talking to Ron McLean during intermission , and he asked Hunter what do you have to do to tie things up and he said with a grin ” you just have to have a NOSE for the net”

  • KACaribou

    Mike how old are you, with all due respect?

    Tim Hunter was not even one of the best fighters in the NHL. He showed up. He usually did okay, sometimes won and sometimes lost.

    He did not beat Dave Semenko and even the playing field. He went with Semenko but he often lost more than won.

    Nobody beat up Dave Brown… sorry. Nobody. Brown beat the living crap out of Stu Grimson in his short stint with the Flames… then was sent packing.

    Hunter was a warrior. He could play. He could fight. He hit and was an ideal 4th liner. A better hockey player than Semenko or Brown.

    Would he be on the greatest Flames team? I think even Tim Hunter is presently scratching his head.

    • STIXLER

      Hunter handled Semenko almost every single time even though Semenko was constantly jumping him from behind. Watch the video tribute to Hunter. He handles Brown quite well in it. You also may want to google Probert vs Brown which may change your mind a bit. Rob Ray versus Brown as well. They all lose some.

      • Train#97

        Every dog has his day but overall he lost more against the top guys than he won. Very game and tough but didn’t handle all the tough guys night in and night out like the writer says. Give him credit cause he wasn’t really a huge guy either.

      • KACaribou

        I hope you don’t get all your information from Youtube, but I understand if you are young. How else could you right?

        Me? I saw those games. Live. On TV. Every one!

        A video tribute is just that – “A Tribute”. It’s like writing your memoirs. Likely you won’t put in the chapter where you got drunk and pissed yourself passed out.

        Not running down Tim Hunter, he’s a great man and surprisingly brilliant from all reports. But he doesn’t belong on this list in my opinion, and he didn’t beat up Dave Semenko on a regular basis. Sorry. Let’s keep things truthful here.

        I bet if you find the Dave Brown tribute he’s shown beating the crap out of Probert and Rob Ray.

        • KACaribou

          Find one fight that Semenko didn’t jump Hunter where he beat him. I was in Junior when these guys were doing this and watched and tried to learn. I wouldn’t have Hunter above Brown as a scrapper either but he had nothing to fear against Semenko

        • Danomitee

          Not u tube. I was s few years after these guys but my junior fight card includes berube, twist, kordic, etc and judging by your comments, you were around then too. Hunter was tough. Very tough. Watch him fight. Notice how he would wear guys down and how he was always standing at the end of his fights. He was the only heavyweight with Calgary while Semenko had Jackson, Mcclelland, McSorely, Beukeboom, etc. Hunter made a huge difference in the Battle of Alberta.

          • everton fc

            Hunter was not one of the great Flames, if you compare him with the others on this list. But he was one of the great role players this team’s ever had. And I agree that Semenko always had issues w/Hunter.

            What I always hated about Probert was he always lost his jersey and this always gave him the advantage. Others of this era kept their sweaters on most fights.

            Hunter did his job, in his era. A lot of guys did, back then. Not always heavyweights. One of my all-time favourite players is Nevin Markwart. He was such a great little role player with the Bruins in the 80’s. Career ended here, when Jay Wells dropped him. He, too, did his job. That was an amazing era of hockey. Lots of goals, assists, fights….

        • Train#97

          I’m not being biased. I cannot find a single fight between Semenko and Hunter where Semenko beat him other than the time he suckered him from behind. Semenko just didn’t have the stamina or the strength to match up and McClelland didn’t have the size. McSorely was a much better match up for him.

  • Train#97

    This is what happens when someone trys to do a tribute to a player and never watched him in real life, you cannot summerize a fighter’s career by watching youube because they only usually show the fights that player wins… Its ludicrous to state Hunter beat Sammy and Brown every time thats an outright lie…I had season tickets back then and Hunter was just okay not a supertar…Hell Peplinski took on Semenko just as much as Tim ever did. I was a journalist once and my editors favorite scream was ” get your facts straight”!!!

  • Train#97

    Uh really?

    Just because people used to think differently, doesn’t mean we need to submit to that flawed thinking. Having Hunter on this team is equivalent to including the pope on a list of the world’s greatest scientists because the world used to use him as an expert in all things.

    Sometimes wrong is just wrong.

    • Train#97

      Hunter should be remembered in the role he played . Ten years of blood ,sweat ,and tears for the flames . Nobody fought harder and tougher for the Flames , during their glory years in the 80’s.

      • Train#97

        And he’s fondly remembered. However he’s far from one of the 18 best skaters to lace up for the team. He was in and around the 12-18th best skater when he played for the team.