Following a standout junior career with the Kingston Canadiens, Ken Linseman he attempted to sign as an under-aged player with the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA in 1977. The effort exploded into a full-blown legal conundrum that was eventually settled only when Linseman and his family successfully secured a restraining order against the WHA thus lifting the ban on his aim to join the Bulls.
In Birmingham, he got his first opportunity to show the world of professional hockey just what kind of player he could be. He was a scrappy, grinding, shifty centreman who could score, check, kill penalties, and irritate opponents with a mastery rarely ever seen. He also had blinking-quick speed on his skates and a mouth like Don Rickles to boot. He once noted that, in light of his style of play, he'd have felt embarrassed to win the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play.
Linseman joined the Flyers' organization in 1978-79. After half a season with the Maine Mariners of the AHL, he stepped up to the NHL plate for the remainder of his pro career. In Philly, he soon became a leading scorer and agitator with the club. As such, he was thought to be the logical successor to Bobby Clarke as a team leader. It was Clarke in fact who christened Linseman as "The Rat," not because of his chippy play, but because he tended to lean forward like a rat when he skated.
Over his four seasons with the club, he spent most of his time skating on the "Rat Patrol" line with Paul Holmgren and Brian Propp. As time went on, he began to fall out of favour with the club. He attained a reputation for stirring up trouble that he rarely ever finished. His welcome finally wore down to the bare threads as a result of his incessant string of penalties that hurt team objectives.
In 1982, his rights were traded to the Hartford Whalers who in turn shuttled him on to Edmonton on the same day. With the Oilers, Linseman skated on a line with Glenn Anderson and Mark Messier. The trio, along with the rest of the squad, clicked in a big way, dethroning the New York Islanders as reigning league champs in 1984.
The following year, Linseman was traded to Boston where he put in more than five seasons of his trademark Linseman hockey - scoring points, playing solid defense, and pestering the opposition to distraction.
By 1989-90, however, his game began to lose some steam. He was traded back to the Flyers for a short spell and then put in a single-season return engagement with the Oilers. His final NHL stop came with the Leafs where he played only two games in 1991. He then went overseas to play a handful of games in Italy before hanging up his blades in 1992.