Friday

Stan Jonathan


To understand how Stan Jonathan inherited his second-to-none work ethic, you just have to look at his childhood.

Jonathan was raised as the sixth child in a family of 14 on the Six Nations' Reserve in Ontario. Life was hard although his dad - one of his biggest boosters - earned a good living on "the high steel". Stan himself actually worked on the high steel, as a rigger, building apartment and office towers in the U.S. and Canada. This of course was a very hazardous job.

"I did it for four summers from the time I was 16. I was scared the first couple of times I went up. But soon I learned it wasn't all that dangerous if you followed the safety precautions. But it's just like hockey: Get careless and you can get hurt," Stan said.


Stan worked hard, and always got the job done, whether it was at the construction site or on the ice. And he received high praise.

"Stanley reminded me of my pet dog, Blue, a bull terrier. They were both relatively small but enormously tough. I liked Stanley so much that I took a beautiful painting of Blue from home and had it hung directly above Jonathan's locker."

These words come from Don Cherry's autobiography "Grapes". And in the book he continues:


"One day Stanley's father was visiting Boston and was introduced to me in my office. 'You've got a great son there, Mr. Jonathan,' I said. 'He reminds me of my dog, Blue.' Old man Jonathan was aghast. Comparing his son to a dog. Well, this big Indian stared at me until I thought I was going to get scalped. I had a lot of fast explaining there or I would have gone the way of General Custer. If I had had the time I would have explained to Mr. Jonathan that Blue was not only my pet, but also my alter-ego."

It's easy to understand Cherry's fondness for this little fireplug who some consider to be the best pound for pound fighter of all time. Just 5'8" 175lbs, this full-blooded Tuscarora Indian played the game like a human bowling ball. He loved to hit anything in sight and loved to get hit as well. Stan was a strong aggressive checker and a streaky scorer. He went after rebounds with reckless abandon. He wasn't fancy but he worked very hard and made things happen all the time when he was on the ice.


When Stan played junior hockey for the Peterborough Petes (QMJHL) between 1972-75 he showed a lot of scoring potential, collecting 176 pts (69 goals and 107 assists) in 204 games. Stan's big break came when Don Cherry and Bruins general manager Harry Sinden went to Oshawa late in 1975 to check up on Boston's No.1 draft pick Doug Halward. As it turned out Halward was injured in the game that they went to see. Instead, as the game progressed Cherry noticed a feisty little player named Stan Jonathan.

"I couldn't help noticing this rugged little Indian. He didn't play an exceptional game, but there was something about him that made me take notice," Cherry said, and continued. "I didn't say much about Jonathan to Harry, but I filed his name in the back of my mind for future reference and at draft time I called Harry aside and said: "Do you think you could get me one hockey player?"

"Harry was not as impressed as I was and bypassed Jonathan on the first, second, and third picks. We finally got him the fourth time (in the 5th round) around and sent him to Dayton Gems of IHL. A year later he made our team. Of all my discoveries, Jonathan is the one in which I take the most pride."

In Dayton (1975-76) Stan played for a $8,000 salary and did it very well. He led all playoff scorers with 13 goals and 21 points in 15 games. The following season Stan managed to crack the Bruins lineup and immediately became a crowd favorite in Boston. In his first NHL fight he completely destroyed Chicago's defenseman Keith Magnuson who was a big, willing 2nd tier fighter. Some of his other victims included Dave "The Hammer" Schultz and Andre "Moose" Dupont.

But Stan didn't just fight. In his first year he led the NHL in shooting percentage (23.9 %) as he scored an impressive 17 goals on 71 shots.

Late in his rookie season Stan was placed on Jean Ratelle's left flank. Ratelle, a future Hall of Famer, was a textbook player who used to feather his passes over to his wings.

"Who wouldn't want to play for a centerman like Jean Ratelle?," Stan said as a rookie. "Ratelle just has some fantastic moves. There's one Jean makes coming in on the defense. Really it puzzles the defenseman. If they move at him one way, he dumps a pass to me or to the right side. If the defense plays wide for the pass, well then Jean just keeps going in on the goalkeeper. Incredible!" Stan said admiringly.

In his sophomore season (1977-78) Stan had a 22.3 shooting % (among top 10 in NHL) scoring a career high 27 goals and 52 points in 68 games.

Stan is however mostly remembered for his classic and brutal fight on May 21, 1978. It was game 4 of the Stanley Cup final between Boston and their archrival Montreal. Right from the start of the game Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman wanted to deliver a "non-nonsense" message. So he sent out a bunch of big fellows: Pierre Bouchard (6'2", 205 Ibs), Gilles Lupien (6'6", 210 Ibs) and Rick Chartraw (6'2", 210 Ibs) among others. Cherry countered with Terry O'Reilly, John Wensink and Stan Jonathan.

At the 6 minute mark of the first period it was obvious that all hell would break lose. Stan and Pierre Bouchard were side by side. Stan gave Pierre a "gentle" shot. After that they dropped the gloves and started swinging. At the same time Lupien and Wensink squared off. At first it looked like the much bigger Bouchard was going to win the fight as he connected with the first blows. But Stan shook them off like water and took Bouchard's best shots without blinking. The guys traded punches at a tremendous pace. Stan who was leading with his right then suddenly switched to his left and caught Bouchard off guard. Stan carved into Bouchard's face with a series of lefts until the helpless Canadien crumpled to the ice, his nose and cheekbone broken, his face a bloody mess. Bouchard's reputation and career was never the same after that brutal fight.

Stan's junior coach Roger Neilson was in the stands that night.

"Jonathan is a little like boxer Joe Frazier," Neilson said that night. "He'll take two punches to get in one of his own - and the one is a dandy."

Hall of Famer George Armstrong, also a Native Canadian, liked Jonathan.

"Hey, I've known Stanley and his folks for years. Stan will fight, yes, but he doesn't look for trouble. He won't back away when it comes, either. He's a good, tough hockey player. And he'll score his share of goals, too. Besides, you just can't beat us Indians."

It seemed that Stan thrived during the games against Montreal. In one of his finest efforts he scored a hat trick against Ken Dryden during game six of the 1979 semi-finals. Stan's fearless style of play gave him some injuries as well. In 1978-79 he missed 47 games due to a fractured wrist and shoulder injury.

Stan lasted six full seasons in Beantown before getting traded to Pittsburgh on November 8, 1982. He played 19 games for Pittsburgh and finished the rest of the season in Baltimore (AHL). Then in April 1983 the Penguins returned the rights to Boston. Stan never played for Boston again and opted to retire instead, only 28 years old.

Stan always thrived on hard work. Something he learned from an early age.

"With a family as large as mine, we had to have rules. And hard work was one of them. If you wanted something badly enough, you had to work for it," Stan said. He sure did, earning every minute of his playing time.

A player like Stan Jonathan today would have fan clubs and be one of the most popular players around. Enforcers today would swallow a lot of blood from the fists of this Tuscarora Indian.

22 comments:

Anonymous,  8:52 PM  

the toughest that ever played no doubt about it . in the 70s he was a roberto duran on skates . but there was no quit in stan jonathan

Anonymous,  7:47 PM  

Jonathan was a legend, the toughest SOB to ever wear the Boston colors and we'll always be proud of him!

Anonymous,  8:20 PM  

I grew up watching the Big Bad Bruins, don't think I missed a game during the 70's & 80's, and of all the tough guys on any team none where tougher than Jonathan.

In an era that saw some of the greatest fighters the sport has ever seen, Jonathan was king. Arguably greatest fighter in the game's history. I never saw him lose a fight. He'd go toe to toe with guys much bigger than him, never backed down, took some heavy blows, but after the smoke cleared he'd still be standing and it was then as the other fighter tired Jonathan shifted into overdrive and had this inexhaustible energy. If you were unfortunate enough to run out of gas, you were dead, Jonathan would destroy you in the end.

I remember games in which he had built such a reputations opponents would fall to the ice if he's square and had gotten of hold of them just so wouldn't have to fight him, no lie.

He was absolutely loved in Boston, a Bruins legend. The night they held a farewell night for the closing of Boston Garden and invited all the old guys back I was there and when Jonathan's name was called and he hit the ice for the final time the roar from the crowd matched O'Reilly's and was greater than all other former players, including Orr.

He gave his heart and blood in Boston and those us who watched him play will never forget him for it. One of the greats.

Anonymous,  11:27 PM  

i'm stans or " uncle junior" nephew. i never knew he was so fondly rembered. we are very proud of his NHL accomplishmehts. some people on six nations say to me "your uncle is a has been". i say "better a has been than a never was". i'm so proud of you uncle Fr. LKJ

Anonymous,  1:17 AM  

Toughest little sumbitch I ever saw on ice! I was at that game against Montreal in the '79 playoffs where he scored the hat trick and got in 2 fights. My buddy and I skipped school and stood in line for 2 hours at the "Gahden" to get tix. One of the greatest performances I've ever seen. A pit bull who could score! Boston Bob

Anonymous,  4:11 PM  

I grew up in Boston. Saw every tough guy there ever was. No one here, or in any city was tougher than Stan Jonathan. He was the toughest there ever was.

Anonymous,  6:48 PM  

Jonathan could fight for sure, but he was also a strong skater, great in the corners, strong on the puck AND could score goals. The Bruins never should have traded him.

Anonymous,  4:34 PM  

I have so many fond memories of watching Stan Jonathan. I never missed a single game back in the seventies and eighties. I remember watching live the time the someone grabbed Stan's stick and the Bruins led by O'Reilly charged up into the stands and beat several Ranger fans. Middlebury even beat one with his own shoe. Fantastic stuff which could never occur today. When the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice against the habs, that was a heartbreaking moment for me. I actually cried. I never recovered from that horrible call against my beloved Bruins. You have to realize that I watched every game on televsion or listened on the radio or went and saw them at the garden. I loved the Bruins like no other pro team EVER.

Anonymous,  3:01 PM  

you think cam neely was tough, lyndon byers, jay miller? stan would give either one of them a pounding in his time no ifs,ands,or butts!!!!!!!!!

jay would drop the gloves but wasnt a skilled fighter, cam would go toe to toe with stan but would end up like bouchard, lb would goe for one minute and say enufff!!!!!!

Rick Muench,  2:17 AM  

I was 16 when I saw Stan clobber Bouchard. I was a huge Bruins fan & was sick & tired of them beating us all the time. I remember cheering after the fight & my parents were mad at me for it.

Stan's the man !!!

Anonymous,  10:29 AM  

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES STAN. GROWING UP IN BOSTON IT WAS LIKE A RELIGION WHO WERE THE BRUINS PLAYING AND WHO WERE THE TOUGH GUYS. YOU KNEW STAN WAS GOING TO TAKE IT TO THEM. THE BEST FIGHTER EVER

Anonymous,  7:07 AM  

I wathched Mr. Jonathan since his Peterborough Petes Jr. A days. This lad would go through a wall to protect his team mates. And he had to put up with Crowe (Paul Evans)his Pete's team mate, which was a hard thing to do. A huge tip of the hat to a great hockey player and person.

George. R,  2:27 PM  

Mr.Stan Jonathan

I say mr. Cause I think you earned the right,climbing the steel at 16 like a lot of Mohawks from six nations and surrounding territories kahnawake,ahkwesesne . Well a hockey player you are one of the greatest to lace up,to skate next too some of the other greats ,is the greatest game you ever played from a little Mohawk boy to a NHL Boston Bruin we and I from kahnawake say kwe: kwe and thank you for living your dream,cause you made a lot of ours come true !!

Ed Grisolia,  10:57 AM  

Stan made all Bruin fans proud of the fact that the opposition knew they had to be "careful" when Jonathan was on the ice. Makes all us "short" people smile for sure and adds to the "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" saying. Stan thanks for the memories; will never forget the pounding you gave Bouchard on May 21, 1978. Last night's game Feb. 9, 2011 was a vivid reminder of what was.

jay 6:25 PM  

My favorite Bruin tough guy of all time. Of course, the Bouchard fight was the highlight, I actually felt sorry for Bob Lorimer for the Islanders when a full scale brawl broke out and Lorimer drew the short straw and paired off w/Stan. His face was a mess & Garry Howatt went crazy when he saw what Stan did to him. I met Stan at the Hynes Auditorium @a trade show when he was injured. I asked him to nail someone(can't remember who) and he gave that little smirk as he walked away, that same smile he gave his opponents when he was pounding them.

Anonymous,  6:52 AM  

Same him play a little as a kid. Johnathan was a little guy who I'd want in my corner anytime. Kind of like a Tie Domi.

Great role model for us little guys who don't like to get pushed around!!!!!!

Anonymous,  8:00 AM  

I never get tired of watching Stan Jonathan beating the tar out of Bouchard (or anyone else). By far my favorite player of all time...

Anonymous,  12:52 AM  

we need jordin tootoo for a season

Anonymous,  11:17 AM  

I know Stan in high school in Ontario. Always a gentleman and would step in if a boy was being nasty to a girl.

Anonymous,  9:58 PM  

Makes me so happy to read all of these great comments about Stan, as I don't know all of the details of his career. Stan boarded with my grandparents during his Petes years, and kept in touch with our family for a long time after. Funny for such a "tough guy" how he was so playful with all of the grand kids, including me, a shy 4 yr old. I loved him because he nicknamed me "Cecil"--although I don't know why to this day. LOVE STAN!! As fortuitous as this hockey boarder might have been--imagine who would come to stay when I was only 11--the great Stevie Y!! Lightning does strike twice, at least on Braidwood Avenue in Peterborough, I conclude!!!!! Congrats Bruins!!

Anonymous,  11:11 AM  

Think of this, when Jonathan was on the Bruins, no one, O'Rielly, wensink, secord, no one messed with hIm. Ever see anyone on the Bruins try to pull him out of a fight? Never!! Jonathan was the baddest of the Big Bad Bruins... No doubt about it....

Anonymous,  3:24 AM  

I grew up in Montreal and a Canadiens fan. The name of Stan Jonathan would strike fear in me, it was synonimous with "tough".
I remember the Bouchard fight well. They went toe to toe throwing punches. Bouchard got destroyed and that fight has followed him like a ghost since.
Toughest man to ever play the game.
Wonder what he's up to today.
Thanks for the memories Stan!

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