March 11th, 1979 – Randy Holt sets penalty minutes record

March 11th, 1979 – Randy Holt sets penalty minutes record

With their second article on Hockeyfights, @historyoffights brings you another great spot on Randy Holt. If you’d like to read their other articles:

Home and Home with Detroit? Better call up Domi

Without further adieu:

Randy Holt sets penalty minutes record. 03.11.79 from Hockey Fight History

The Los Angeles Kings acquired rugged defenseman Randy Holt from the Vancouver Canucks on New Years Eve, 1978, for Don Kozak. The idea here was to add a real physical presence that the Kings had been greatly lacking up to that point. Other than 30-year-old Bert Wilson, the Kings were not very deep in the toughness department at a time when fighting and brawling were becoming an intricate part of the game. Wilson was not a big man by any stretch, 6-0 180, but was a very formidable fighter. Holt wasn’t very big either, by today’s standards (5-11, 200), but on the other hand brought a real edge, and a willingness to stand up to all bullies who dare try and intimidate the Kings.

Holt began the season having played 22 games with the Vancouver Canucks, accumulating 1 goal, 3 assists, & 80 penalty minutes. He quickly made his presence felt, taking over the fighting duties, while Wilson took a back seat. By the March 11th game, in Philadelphia, Holt had accumulated 11 scraps in just a little over 2 months and wasn’t about to slow down going into the Spectrum.

Things began to heat up at the 14:58 mark of the first period, during a stoppage of play, Holt tagged Blake Dunlop with a gloved right. Flyer defenseman Frank Bathe, who would set his own record on this day, tried to get at Holt. Nothing much further happened here, however, the fuse was lit. Both players received double 5-minute fighting majors and a 10-minute misconduct. Another point to mention here is, that both players would have typically been sent to the dressing room (less than 15 minutes left in the period, over 15 minutes in penalties issued), however, that rule had not yet been implemented by the NHL, and wouldn’t be until the 1980s.

At 18:20 of the 1st, it was the two Wilson’s who would hook up in a very good fight. Flyer rookie Behn Wilson was still feeling his way around the NHL, on his way to becoming one of the top fighters of all time. In reviewing the fight, it was the older Wilson, who appeared to land the better punches. At this point, the Flyers weren’t about to let this unlawful act of courage by Holt & Wilson go unpunished, not at home, and certainly not in front of the Flyer faithful.

As the 1st-period buzzer sounded, all hell would break loose. Michigan Tech University and United States Olympian Steve Jensen would battle Mel Bridgman in three separate tilts. Jensen had a decent size (6-2, 190), but greatly lacked fighting experience, never accumulating more than 62 penalty minutes in a season. Mel Bridgman, on the other hand, had come up through the rough and tumble West Coast Hockey League and was a noted pugilist. Heavyweight, Paul Holmgren would have a dandy scrap with fellow brawler Holt. A few others would find themselves tangled up, or in short bouts, but by the time the brawling was done, both teams had accumulated a record 352 penalty minutes, the most for two teams in a single game (194 PHI, 158 LA). Holt racked up 67 minutes by himself, the most for a single player in a single game, & a single period. Bathe would also set a Flyers’ record, recording 55 penalty minutes of his own. They played hockey for the remainder of the game. Referee Wally Harris handed out only 4 additional minors through the next two periods, and in the end, it was the Flyers beating the visitors from Los Angeles 6-3.

Holt would later have this to say about the game:

“I had four all-outers against Philadelphia. And all four were because of me because I’d stand up to them. The way Philadelphia plays is a gang war against one guy.”

“I got in a couple of fights with a defenseman by the name of Frank Bathe. Then Blake Dunlop was playing for them, and he turned around and said something to me which he would never say under normal circumstances. Only because he’s in Philly and playing for them does he say that. So I drove him in the head. I went to the penalty box and soon after a teammate says he heard Bobby Clarke tell their bench, ‘We’re gonna get him at the end of the period’. Soon as the period ended, they all leaped over the boards for me. So I already had the two fights, then I caught (Paul) Holmgren and a couple of other guys. I don’t know how they sorted it (the penalty minutes) all out.”

“It’s not a thing I’m proud of. But I am proud to say I stood up to them. Anything they threw at me I threw back.”




Randy Holt would lead the league in penalty minutes that season with 282, 67 of course coming from this game. His NHL record still stands today, and I have a hard time believing it will ever be broken. Frank Bathe also continues to hold the Flyers record for most PIMs in a game with his 55.

On February 26th, 1981 the Boston Bruins and Minnesota North Stars would break the record for most penalty minutes in a game with 406. In 2004, the Ottawa Senators, and Philadelphia Flyers would break that record with 419.