By TOM HAWTHORN
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, November 26, 2018
Hockey tough guy Dan Maloney did not win all his fights on the ice, though he retired undefeated in the courtroom.
Mr. Maloney, who has died at 68, was a left winger known for his determination and fierce competitiveness. In the hockey world, such admired qualities are cited for players who make up for a lack of skill by being a fearsome presence on the ice.
Known as Dangerous Dan for his willingness to engage in fisticuffs, he was also nicknamed Snowshoes for the awkward, high-stepping manner in which he skated.
Playing during an era of goon hockey, Mr. Maloney patrolled the left wing like a pugnacious beat cop in a sketchy neighbourhood. He had good hands whether delivering a jab or a wrist shot. While playing for the Detroit Red Wings in 1975-76, the forward scored 27 goals despite having spent 203 minutes in the penalty box, the equivalent of more than 10 full periods of hockey.
He skated for four NHL teams at a time when hockey was a combination of trench warfare and wrestling free-for-all.
His contribution to the mayhem of the era earned a place both in hockey lore and in the court docket. In a game at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on Nov. 5, 1975, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Maloney attacked Toronto defenceman Brian Glennie from behind with a right-handed haymaker. After Mr. Glennie crumpled to the ice, Mr. Maloney delivered further blows before picking the hapless rival off the ice and dropping him, a rag-doll thrashing repeated twice more before other players and linesmen intervened.
The referee ordered Mr. Maloney to the penalty box to serve a five-minute major penalty, while Mr. Glennie was dispatched to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a mild concussion and kept overnight for observation.
Only seconds after leaving the penalty box, Mr. Maloney and Toronto's Tiger Williams tangled, both dismissed for two minutes. Two seconds after those penalties expired, the duo stepped onto the ice to engage in a fist fight. Both were assessed fighting majors and 10-minute misconducts. The remainder of the game - won, incidentally, by Toronto, 7-3 - was a chippy affair with many other penalties called by referee Bryan Lewis.
In the cauldron of professional hockey in the mid-1970s, it was not a particularly violent game. It was the hockey player's misfortune that Ontario attorney-general Roy McMurtry had recently warned his office did not consider pro sports to be immune to the laws of the land. The player was charged the following afternoon with assault causing bodily harm.
Mr. Maloney attended court in Toronto the following June in a snazzy white suit. A tall man with angular features, including a cleft chin and prominent cheekbones, the 26-year-old player faced a possible punishment - up to five years imprisonment - far in excess of what was administered on the night of the game.
The Crown prosecutor called nine witnesses over four days. As well, a videotape of the incident was played after several days of arguments out of the presence of the jury.
"Hockey has always been an aggressive game with hard body contact, but no premeditation to harm," Mr. Maloney testified. "That just happens."
The defence argued all NHL players consented to possible violence when they stepped onto the ice. A jury of four men and eight women was told by defence lawyer George Finlayson that his client was "a fully accomplished and sought-after hockey player, who came to play the game as he has always played it and as he was taught to play it."
The jury deliberated for 9 hours 25 minutes before acquitting the player. They issued a call for an end to violence in hockey.
Two years later, Mr. Maloney was traded and became Mr. Glennie's teammate on the Maple Leafs. It was a dream assignment for a young man who had been a fan as a boy growing up in Barrie, Ont.
Daniel Charles Maloney was born on Sept. 24, 1950, to Sarah (née Munroe) and James Maloney, immigrants from County Westmeath, Ireland. His father was a labourer and stationary engineer. The family of seven boys and two girls lived in a twostorey brick house on Penetang Street, where the neighbours included truck drivers, factory workers and dressmakers.
After two years with the junior London Knights, a team boasting several future NHL players, most notably centreman Darryl Sittler, Mr. Maloney was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 1970 NHL amateur draft. The left winger was the No. 14 pick over all, while Mr.
Sittler, a future member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, was selected at No. 8 by the Maple Leafs.
The Blackhawks demoted the young player after an indifferent rookie season. He then helped the minorleague Dallas Black Hawks win the Adams Cup as Central Hockey League champions.
In 1973, Chicago traded Mr.Maloney to the Los Angeles Kings for the veteran Ralph Backstrom. The hard-checking forward came into his own with the Kings, enjoying his first of two consecutive 27-goal seasons.
On June 23, 1975, the Kings traded the forward and veteran defenceman Terry Harper to Detroit for a disgruntled Marcel Dionne and journeyman defenceman Bart Crashley.
It was while with Detroit that Mr. Maloney skated in his only NHL all-star game, scoring a goal and adding an assist as his Wales Conference defeated the Campbell Conference by 7-5 in 1976.
Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard had long made it known he wanted to add the tough winger to his roster. The owner of the Leafs considered the mugging of Mr.
Glennie to be a job application. The Leafs finally got him in a trade in March, 1978.
In his final months as a player, Mr. Maloney was named an assistant coach by Leafs coach Mike Nykoluk. He moved permanently behind the bench after retiring as a player at the end of the 1981-82 season.
In 11 NHL seasons, the forward scored 192 goals with 259 assists, while accumulating 1,489 penalty minutes, a lengthy rap sheet even by the standards of the time.
In 1984, Mr. Maloney was promoted to head coach after the Leafs failed to make the playoffs. He was expected to be a hardnosed disciplinarian with the players. In the end, he wound up feuding with star scorer Rick Vaive, who was stripped of his captaincy and benched.
The Leafs snuck into the playoffs in the coach's second year, upsetting the Blackhawks before being eliminated by the St. Louis Blues.
When the owner refused to offer him a contract longer than one year, Mr. Maloney took a job with the Winnipeg Jets as coach. He had 46 wins, 100 losses and 15 ties as Toronto's coach. Mr. Maloney had greater success in Manitoba, going 91-93-29 over three seasons before being fired not long after the general manager who had hired him, John Ferguson Sr., another notorious tough guy in his playing days, had been dismissed.
Mr. Maloney ended his NHL career with a season as an assistant coach for the New York Rangers.
He was inducted into the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
Mr. Maloney, who died on Nov. 20, often took part in NHL alumni charity events. He had been in poor health in recent years. He leaves a daughter and two sons, as well as their mother, Susanne Maloney. He also leaves two grandchildren, two brothers and a sister. He was predeceased by four brothers and a sister.
Dan Maloney plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs during a game against the New York Rangers in 1981. Mr. Maloney was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 1970 NHL amateur draft.
BRUCE BENNETT STUDIOS/GETTY IMAGES