FullTilt Legends: Joey Kocur
Joey Kocur was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on December 21, 1964. He was drafted #88 overall in the 1983 NHL Draft by the Detroit Red Wings. Kocur made his NHL debut with the Red Wings during the 1985-86 season and in 17 games he recorded 1 point (his 1st NHL goal) and had 64 PIM. He also appeared in 3 playoff games recording a goal and had 5 PIM.
It was during his time in Detroit, prior to joining the Rangers is where Kocur cut his teeth and made a name for himself as a bona-fide tough guy in the NHL. Along with fellow enforcer Bob Probert they were known as The Bruise Brothers and they wreaked havoc on the NHL and anyone who even considered taking any liberties with any of the Red Wings finesse players, especially Steve Yzerman.
In parts of 10 seasons with the Red Wings, Kocur played in 536 games and amassed 1963 PIM. He also chipped in 66 G & 67A for 133pts. In 69 playoff games he tallied 8G & 8 A for 16pts and had 147 PIM.
With the Rangers lacking toughness, GM Neil Smith traded for Kocur (along with defenseman Per Djoos) for Kevin Miller, Jim Cummins & Dennis Vial on March 5, 1991. For the first time in a very long time, the Rangers would not be shoved around. They had someone who was feared and that brought a dimension to the Rangers that had been lacking for several seasons.
Over the course of the 6 seasons with the Rangers, it was made abundantly clear that if you messed with anyone in a Rangers jersey, you would have to answer to #26. Kocur was so feared as a fighter – especially his right hand – that teams simply avoided getting him involved. Kocur was so strong with his right hand that it was not uncommon for him to have to take maintenance days off just to heal up.
When the Rangers hired Mike Keenan as coach it was a match made in heaven for Kocur. They may not have clicked always clicked personally but here was a coach who demanded everything form his players and then wanted more. That’s exactly the type of player Kocur was and the perfect foot soldier for Keenan. He would not have to be told to send a message with his physical play. He delivered it and delivered well.
Kocur gained a full time role with the Rangers during the 1993-94 season playing in 71 regular season games (the most he would play in a season for NY) and 20 playoff games. While he didn’t score much – just 3 points in the regular season & 2pts in the playoffs – he answered the bell on many occasions when the going got tough or if liberties were being taken with his teammates.
Ironically, it is this type of play that kept him off the ice for the deciding 7th game in the Final against the Canucks. His hands were so beat up by the time Game 7 rolled around he just wasn’t able to go. Even though he didn’t contribute anything offensively, his sheer presence alone made his Rangers teammates play bigger than they were and gave them room on the ice enroute to a championship.
After the Stanley Cup Championship in June of 1994, Kocur would go on to play 2 more seasons with the Blueshirts before being traded on March 20, 1996 to the Vancouver Canucks for goalie Kay Whitmore. He finished out the season in Vancouver and then rejoined the Red Wings in the latter stages of the 1996-97 season and played 2 more seasons with Detroit before retiring.
Kocur’s homecoming was a smashing success (no pun intended). He would capture the Stanley Cup 3 more times. Twice as a player in 1997 and 1998, and once as a video coach in 2002. He learned under Scotty Bowman while with the Red Wings and when Dave Lewis took over for Bowman he became an assistant coach. Upon the hiring of Mike Babcock as head coach, Kocur was not retained.
For his career, Kocur amassed 2519 PIM in 821 games. He also chipped in 80G & 82A. In the playoffs he appeared in 118 games with 10G and 12A with 231 PIM. Today he is the President of the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association.
In a pretty cool moment leading up to the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, he honored his deceased former Bruise Brother, Bob Probert by wearing Probert’s #24 jersey during the Alumni Showdown vs the Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni.
Kocur is also very involved in charity work and started the Joe Kocur for Children Foundation in 2009. They have been helping families in need by holding events that provide an opportunity to interact with Kocur and other stars to raise money.
Ain’t it funny how the toughest guys on the ice are usually the kindest guys off of it.
Joey Kocur was a great Rangers teammate. His presence gave stars like Messier, Leetch and Kovalev freedom to do what they wanted. While his stats aren’t legendary, his right hand was.
For that, Joey Kocur earns a spot as a FullTilt Legend.