The movie The Last Gladiators is making its way to video on demand or some theaters this week and, well, it's going to be worth watching for hockey fans.
As you can probably guess based on the name, it's focused on some of hockey's pugilists, specifically Chris "Knuckles" Nilan. Rather than me telling you about the movie, here's the official synopsis.
Academy Award winning Director Alex Gibney takes an unprecedented look at the National Hockey League's most feared enforcers and explores the career of Chris "Knuckles" Nilan. The role was simple: protect their teammates no matter the cost. For Chris this meant a shattered body, addiction to drugs, and harming the people closest to him. But in the process, he won the love of hockey's holy city, Montreal, and helped the team win the Stanley Cup. He also played for the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins. Through interviews with hockey's toughest guys, the film explores what it means to enforce the unspoken code of the NHL.
As you probably know, this has been an increasingly louder conversation in hockey circles, the role of fighting in the game and the effect that it has on the enforcers. It has come out of a greater understanding of the damage that repeated concussions do to the brain as well as the tragedies of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak.
Nilan, a Boston native if you couldn't tell from the accent, played 668 games in his NHL career with 110 goals, 115 assists and a whopping 3,043 penalty minutes. He led the NHL in PIM in 1983-84 and again in 1984-85. That season, he had 358 PIM alone.