Our Tough Guy, the latest in the 30 for 30 Shorts series, is an exceptional look at one of Hockey’s oldest, yet dying, roles: the enforcer. These role players basically policed the game, making sure opposing teams stayed in line. They even picked fights in order to change momentum or create a missing spark on any given night. This short takes a look at one person in particular, John Wensink: the Boston Bruin LW became famous during the 1977-78 season, when he demolished Minnesota North Stars tough guy Alex Pirus and then afterwards taunted the entire bench. He was never the greatest skater or puck handler, but after this incident, he became known for his flamboyant and over the top fights.

Simply, the short documentary from Molly Schiot does a great job of showing the man behind the toughness. For a person who had so much confidence on the ice, Our Tough Guy really displays Wensink’s humbleness, which is not normally shown by former enforcers. And here, it is refreshing to see that the man described as “the craziest player in Slap Shot” subverts the audience’s expectations of him. The fighting is something even Wensink wants to distance himself from, claiming if he went back he would have done things differently. One always sees an old fighter missing the game, when in reality John claims he was never a limelight guy and hated how it made his wife worry.

At the same time, the documentary suffers from its limited runtime, which confines the scope and the amount of time devoted to particular areas. For instance, the interview with teammate Jay Miller on how great enforcers made everyone comfortable, thus resulting in goals, is interesting and warrants more time — perhaps with interviews from other teammates. But again, this is a ten-minute short that accomplishes what it sets out to do: it rekindles memories of a forgotten great, who provided some fantastic moments for Boston fans.

 

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