Mark Janssens was a left-handed center who played started his career in the NHL with the New York Rangers in the 1987-88 season, playing in one game. From that point to the 2000-01 season, Mark played for the Rangers, the North Stars, the Mighty Ducks, the Islanders, the Coyotes, and the Blackhawks. Janssens amassed 1422 PIM during his career.
Minor League Career Edit
Although Mark Janssens enjoyed a long, prolific and successful career as an NHL enforcer, he almost never made it to the NHL, in fact the man very nearly DIED on the ice. Janssens was involved in a scrap in Juniors with a guy by the name of Martin Simard. They had a pretty good fight, but in the process Janssens was knocked to the ice very heavily and ended up hitting his head on the ice pretty hard. Janssens immediately began seizuring and going into convulsions, and apparently he also had swelling on his brain. The story goes that the team doctor ran onto the ice and had to use the butt-end of his scissors to break some of Janssens teeth in order to prevent him from swallowing his tongue. There is an old issue of "The Hockey News," that details this injury and further elaborates on this story. Janssens ended up scoring two goals upon his return to the lineup. Here's what Janssens had to say about "the incident:"
"I don't remember the game at all. I remember waking up in the hospital with the absolute worst headache of my life. I had tubes down my throat because I had cerebral hemorrhaging (bleeding on the brain) and I had to be monitored for the next six or seven hours. I remember every time I swallowed that I could feel the tubes and it would make me gag. It was extremely uncomfortable and when I found out I had to remain that way for the next six hours, I just wanted to die. Every time I moved, I threw up. It was pretty serious but looking back, I don't think I realized how serious it was at the time. The guys from Salt Lake came to see me. Stu Grimson was there and Martin Simard visited as well. As far as Simard, things happen. I've never held a grudge in my life. Thankfully, I recuperated well. I was off the ice for three months and really didn't show any ill-effects when I came back."
NHL Career Edit
Mark played in one game during the 1987-88 season and five in the 88-89 season. In 1989 he earned a regular spot with the New York Rangers. Mark Janssens immediately made an impact in his first season by taking on "The Little Ball of Hate," known to the hockey world as Pat Verbeek in an entertaining scrap which I scored a draw. When asked about whether or not he remembered the scrap, Janssens replied:
"No I don't. That must be a result of cumulative concussions!"
Janssens got into a few other minor scarps that season before he famously became involved in an altercation with New Jersey Devils netminder Sean Burke. My memory is fuzzy as to what exactly started the whole affair, but I do remember that they went at each other pretty good with each guy dropping the gloves before the zebras came flying in to break up the fight. Perhaps what was the most surprising thing was that none of the other Devils players went after Janssens after he mugged Burke.
Later that season Janssens ended up getting into a pretty good tussle with New Jersey power-forward Brendan Shanahan. Janssens dropped the mitts, then proceeded to drop Shanahan after hitting him with 3-4 solid shots... Shanahan went to his knees from Janssens punches, then the linesmen come in to save Shanahan. In the process Janssens gets piled on and Shanahan gets loose and throws a couple cheapies while Janssens is down, but Janssens gets the win with a borderline TKO. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this fight was that it was one of the few fights that ever occured during an Overtime period!
Perhaps the most important brawl that the Rangers were involved in that season occured against the Islanders in the playoffs on April 5, 17 years ago now... Earlier in the game, Rangers defenseman James Patrick had caught Pat Lafontaine in the trolley tracks with a devastating hit and the Islanders were looking for revenge; Thus with only a couple of seconds left in the game, and with the game already decided, Al Arbour sends out the goons, putting Mick Vukota, Ken Baumgartner, Gerald Diduck, Gary Nylund and non-fighter Bryan Trottier out for the draw. Roger Nielson the Rangers coach, countered with Chris Nilan, Mark Janssens, Kris King, and Jeff Bloemberg. Off the draw the Islanders are looking for blood, and the Bomber is skating around in circles, looking like a shark circling a helpless victim. The puck is dropped and Vukota makes a bee-line for Bloemberg and proceeds to beat the piss out of him... Baumgartner ended up with Kris King and beat him, and King looked like he didn't want any part of the fight, doing the standing turtle for the majority of the entire event... the two goaltenders Mark Fitzpatrick and Mike Richter met up and exchanged a few punches then set back and watched the entire show... Nylund and Nilan had a go and Nylund appeared to land a good shot on Nilan before the camera cut away to focus on another fight. Later on they cut back to Nylund-Nilan and Nilan is on top of Nylund and trying to feed him some punches but since I didn't ever see the whole fight its hard to award a winner... Whats surprising was that during this melee that Janssens never went after Trottier or ever really got involved with anyone. Janssens had this to say about this brawl:
"I remembered it was an odd pairing. (Being paired up with Bryan Trottier) I obviously had a lot respect for him and our roles were quite different at the time. It would have been better had I paired off with someone else, but that's just the way it happened. I don't remember the hit but I remember it was a big deal. We had a pretty tough team at the time, but anytime you're facing off against Mick Vukota and Ken Baumgartner you always have to have your head up."
In Janssens second season in the NHL, he started off with a bang, in an absolute slugfest with Philadelphia Flyers big defenseman Jeff Chychrun. This one started off with Chychrun getting the advantage and feeding Janssens a few punches. Janssens took all that Chychrun could give then came back with a vengeance popping Chychrun a couple times then with one absolute dandy that would have TKO'D him for sure if he hadn't been held up by the boards. Chychrun fell back hard but recovered and threw a couple more punches but Janssens with the clear win. It was a very entertaining scrap as well...
Later that season, Janssens was involved in what many considered to be a "Fight of the Year" candidate, with Darin Kimble. This was an all out toe to toe slugfest.
As the 1992-1993 season approached the "Mark Janssens" era with the Hartford Whalers began. Janssens centered a line that featured Kelly Chase and Stu Grimson on each side. Thats not a bad line eh? Much better then Jan Bulis or No Panic Yannic Perrault... Here is how Janssens described those teams:
"We had a lot of tough players. I was the fourth line centerman and I always had someone with me who was tougher than I was which was nice. I also played with Nick Kypreos as well. I think at that time every team had three or four fighters so there was always enough work for everybody. Unfortunately, we never had great teams in Hartford, so when a team is down 3-0 after the second period, you know something is going to happen in the third. I fought a lot in Hartford and I think many of those were because we struggled as a team."
In 1992-1993 Janssens had a very big year fight wise as he went out and had wins against competition like Scott Stevens, Stephane Quintal, Rob Ray, and Steve Leach. Along the way he took losses to Mario Roberge, Mike Lalor and Dean Kennedy in the same game against the Winnipeg Jets, and paired off with Terry Carkner during the brawl where Jim McKenzie pounded Dimirti Yushkevich, but the fight didn't amount to much.
Mark Janssens started the 1993-1994 season with a beauty against the legendary Marty McSorley. They went toe to toe early with a very even give and take exchange. In fact Janssens caught McSorley with a bigtime left that clearly hurt McSorley but McSorley kept up the onslaught, dishing out some shots of his own. Janssens caught McSorely with another big time left which clearly hurt him and stunned him a bit more then the first one but he still kept on punching, doing enough to get the narrow win in a very entertaining scrap. Janssens did very well against a guy many people have in the their all time top 10.
Janssens had another beauty in his second fight of that season when he became involved with the "Bomber" Ken Baumgartner. The technically sound Baumgartner got the win in this fight but Janssens tagged him with one really solid left and made it a respectable fight. Win Baumgartner.
Later that season Janssens dropped the gloves with Sabres tough guy Brad May. In this bout they bout did some shadow boxing before coming together... May threw a couple of shots, one which landed for sure because he bloodied Janssens. Janssens responded with a couple of shots of his own, one which sent May down to the ice to get the TKO win.
In 1994-1995, Janssens started off the season with a win against Devils forward Randy McKay, then tied up Habs defenseman Lyle Odelein in a nothing fight. However he was involved in one of the greatest hockey fights ever with Chris Tamer of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tamer had been recalled that afternoon by the Penguins, and he went after Janssens because Janssens had elbowed Len Barrie off the draw. They dropped them and Janssens started quickly and landed 5-6 shots before Tamer got going. Tamer lands a huge shot which bloodies Janssens immediately and both guys land some great punches in an all out war of attrition.
Perhaps that fight took more out of Janssens then he knew because in his next scrap he was TKO'd by Brantt Mhyres.
Mark Janssens started off the 1995-1997 campaign with a bang when he took on Devils enforcer Reid Simpson. It was a very nice action packed toe to toe slugfest with Janssens landing the better shots and jerseying Simpson at the end of the fight.
Janssens also had a beauty that season with Kevin Sawyer which he got the best of and then met up with the much maligned Jim Kyte for another epic battle between two warriors. It looked like Janssens went looking for this fight as after Kyte hit him with a harmless looking body check he went right after the big defenseman and kept pushing him and jabbing him... Kyte wasn't going to take that so off came the mitts and they have a really nice fight. Janssens got a few nice lefts in before Kyte grabbed the left and tied it up then they both threw a couple of shots, Janssens with the lefts and Kyte with rights, then Kyte switched to the left for a bit before going back righty... They had a nice toe to toe exchange and then grappled shortly then went toe to toe again after
Later that season Janssens renewed his rivalry with Marty McSorley and they engaged in another outstanding fight. They went toe to toe at first with Janssens going with the lefts early and really tagging Marty with some decent shots that knocked McSorley's helmet off in the process... Marty landed one, possibly two punches, and Janssens jerseyed him but he continued throwing punches anyway. They threw a few more punches, about 3-4 each and McSorley's stamina begins to take effect and he tags Janssens with a nice shot flush to the face which hurts. Janssens attempts to rally but his left falls short of the mark and the zebras came in.
Later in February, Janssens became involved in a scrap with the legendary Tim Hunter and got the best of the fight after getting a fast start... Hunter was extremely pissed off and from all reports attempted to go after Janssens in the dressing room after the fight. Here's how Janssens described the incident:
"I think I got the better of him and I think I may have surprised him and I think he took exception to that. I don't recall if I started the fight, maybe I did? For some reason, something went off in him. I remember someone saying that Hunter tried to get into our dressing room and I was shocked since I thought it was over. We fought and got sent to our dressing rooms and that's that. I think I may have started the fight and got the first couple in which were point blank shots. I think I got him good and he may have felt that I took advantage of him, which I may have. Things happen. I'm sure he's done the same thing in his career."
When asked if anyone ever agitated him, the way he agitated Hunter that night, Janssens replied:
"Theo Fleury made me lose my mind. Darcy Tucker made me lose my mind. That is a compliment to them. They played their role in fantastic fashion. When we played Montreal, Denis Savard really got under my skin. Tyson Nash was another one. They all do a great job. It's easy to get me off my game, but when you get the really good players off their games, that's a true talent."
In Janssens last fight of the season, he got involved with a prime Tony Twist who was on a major path of destruction that season. In their scrap, Janssens never really got going and Twist dominated, manhandling Janssens and catching him with a shot that put him to his knees and a couple more hard rights... By all reports he also broke Janssens orbital bone. This was the same season that Twist had broken Rob Ray's orbital bone as well...
Perhaps that shot really affected Janssens fight game because at the start of the 1996-1997 season, Janssens was going through some tough times. He took a few bad losses at the start of the season, including losses to: Ken Belanger, Ed Jovonovski, and Jeff Odgers. Then he tried Alex Stojanov and really had him on the ropes, outlanding him at a two to one ratio before Stojanov came back with two huge right hand bombs that dropped Janssens clean... Up to that point Janssens was feeding Stojanov but you have to give big Alex credit for fighting back and getting the TKO.
Janssens then had two more entertaining scraps losing a close decision to the hard-punching Paul Laus, and beating Todd Harvey in a very entertaining bout... Janssens then fought Chris Simon twice in two separate games and got the better of him each time. In the first game Janssens caught Simon with a solid left and put him down to the ice. Simon got up and threw a couple punches that came up short, while Janssens ketp landing his shots... In the second fight Janssens switched hands a couple of times and landed the better shots IMO to get the win. Here's what Janssens said about fighting Simon, Jim Cummins, and Marty McSorley:
"A fan sent me a picture, something like a 15 x 20 picture of me fighting Simon. I always liked fighting Simon because we were the same size and I'm a natural lefty and I believe he was predominantly a lefty as well. I don't why but I always did well against him. A lot of fighting is just instinctive, you just go. Once you start thinking, you're done. Cummins was different. He threw with both hands and was a lot quicker. He was all offense and I'd like to think I was all offense as well. If you're going to fight, fight. Don't waste your time. Cummins was very strong. I'll throw one more at you. You know who always seemed to find me? Marty McSorley always seemed to find me. I don't know why. There was always a bit of fear with him because you didn't know what he was going to do. I fought him a few times and on my part, they were always defensive fights. He was strong so I always just tried to him inside. I learned a lot from Kelly Chase. Chase wasn't the biggest guy so he relied a lot more on technique and he would take me aside and show me certain grabs and shifts that he would use. I learned to get inside and when I would fight guys where maybe I was a little tentative, like McSorley, I'd get inside. A guy like Simon would be toe to toe, which I liked."
Later on that season Janssens fought Paul Laus again and after landing a couple of right on Laus, Laus got his right free and smoked Janssens with a beautiful uppercut which dropped Janssens to the ice for the TKO win. Janssens also took on Donald Brashear and got the worst of that fight. Brash had just thrown one of the Ducks basically into the bench and Janssens went after him and landed a couple but Brashear got the win. That was the same game that Gino Odjick simply destroyed Peter Leboutillier.
Janssens finished his career a couple of seasons after this scrap and he was entertaining right to the end. He took some tough losses to guys like Ed Jovonovski, Georges Laraque, Krszytof Oliwa, Matt Johnson and Paul Laus, but he also had wins against competition like Patrick Cote, Chris McCallister, Brantt Mhyres, and Ronnie Stern.
thanks to I like Boobs for this great summary of Mark Janssens career!