Donald Brashear was big, tough, and genuinely mean.
He was one of the league's top penalty minute men (although a lot seemed to be lazy and needless minors that would undoubtedly anger his coach) and a feared and fomidable fighter. With the gloves off he was as good as they come, and found fewer and fewer takers as his reputation spread. He always seemed to be in a bad mood on the ice.
He had some game beyond the fisticuffs. He hit to hurt, which created a lot of room for himself. Too bad he had no offensive game at all beyond a heavy shot to the net. Still, he intimidated with his enthusiastic forechecking, trademarked by his awkward but surprisingly fast skating.
"Brash" played a long time in the NHL, totalling 1025 career games to go with 85 goals, 205 points and 2634 penalty minutes.
But he will always be remembered as a victim of one of hockey's darkest moments.
During the February 21, 2000 Vancouver-Boston game, Bruins enforcer Marty McSorley struck Brashear with a two-handed slash to the temple with his stick. Brashear, who had his helmet knocked off by the slash, collapsed, and his head bounced off the ice. Brashear immediately started convulsing and was diagnosed with a grade 3 concussion.
McSorley was suspended indefinitely and was later charged by the RCMP with assault with a weapon. McSorley was found guilty but did not receive any jail time. He was placed on probation for 18 months. One of the conditions of his sentence was that he was not to play in a hockey game involving Brashear. The NHL meantime set his league suspension to a full year. McSorley never played in the NHL again.
Brashear did come back, and played a long time afterwards. He genuinely was interested in combat fighting. He trained as a boxer and, as a 39 year old retired hockey player, tried his hand at mixed martial arts fighting.