In the midst of the 1981-82 season, the year Paul Baxter had the second most penalty minutes in league history, opponents were being suspended left and right for attempting to injure the deeply religious but far from angelic defender. Baxter, in his third year in the NHL after leading the WHA in career penalties, claimed again and again to be flummoxed by the constant parade to the penalty box, saying he was merely aggressive and that larger players didn't like being hit so hard by a smaller man.
In one stretch no less than five players were suspended for a total of 20 games in incidents related to the Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman. On November 21, 1981, Chris Nilan of Montreal threw a puck at Baxter in the penalty box after an altercation, opening up a cut that required eight stitches and netting the Canadien tough guy a three-game suspension. On December 9, Philly's Paul Holmgren was so intent on getting to Baxter that he punched referee Andy Van Hellemond. Holmgren was suspended for five games. December 14, Barry Bubba Beck and Nick Fotiu of the Rangers were convinced Baxter had been up to evil and led a charge of their New York fellows off the bench to correct matters. Beck was gone for six games, Fotiu for one. Finally, normally mild-mannered Blaine Stoughton was sent home for eight games when the league ruled his series of cross checks to Baxter's head was an intent to injure.
Baxter, who had to overcome a serious injury in 1980 when linesman Bob Hodges skated over his wrist, severing four tendons, and finished the 81-82 season with 409 penalty minutes. When his playing career was coming to an end, with Calgary in 1986-87, Baxter was made an assistant coach to the Flames Bob Johnson, who had attempted unsuccessfully to recruit the defenceman to the University of Wisconsin years before. Baxter became a successful coach, taking over the reins of the IHL's Salt Lake Golden Eagles in 1987 before rejoining the Flames as an assistant coach in 1989-90.
After three seasons with the Flames, Baxter joined the Chicago Blackhawks, continuing on as an assistant coach for the next three seasons. In 1995-96, Baxter became the head coach of the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate in Saint John before making a return to the NHL in 1997-98 as an assistant with the San Jose Sharks. Baxter's stay in San Jose lasted three seasons before he moved on to the Florida Panthers in 2001-02. Now with his fourth NHL team, Baxter remained in Florida for the better part of two seasons before being relieved of his duties midway through the 2002-03 season.