While most dominant images of Tiger Williams likely include him sitting in the penalty box, he had an offensive scoring talent which often went overlooked due to his penchant for pugilism.
Williams played for three years with Swift Current of the Western Junior Hockey League. In his first season he scored 12 goals while assisting on 22 others, while compiling a staggering 278 minutes in penalties in 68 games. The next year he spent 12 minutes less time in the penalty box but improved his point production by an incredible 68 points, garnering 102 points on 44 goals and 56 assists. In his final year with Swift Current, Tiger amassed 52 goals and 56 assists for 108 points while spending 310 minutes in the sin bin.
Tiger was chosen 31st overall in the 2nd round of the 1974 NHL entry draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was also a 3rd round selection, 33rd overall, of the Cincinnati Stingers of the WHA, but Tiger's dream was to play in the NHL. He played four full seasons in Toronto and parts of two others, where he became a huge fan favourite. Along with his many entertaining skirmishes with other notable NHL tough guys, Tiger also brought the fans out of their seats, when, after scoring a goal, he would ride his hockey stick down the length of the ice, much to the annoyance of the opposing players. He was also one of the few players Maple Leafs' owner Harold Ballard seemed to like.
When all was said and done in a 14-year NHL career, Tiger was the league's all-time leader in penalty minutes with 3,966. He also collected an additional 455 minutes during the playoffs. To this day Williams will argue he did not deserve half the penalties he was assessed by NHL referees. Then again, there are quite a few who insist he should have been given more!
He averaged nearly 20 goals a year, and had his best year in 1980-81 with the Vancouver Canucks, when he netted 35 goals and 27 assists. That year he represented Vancouver in the mid-season All-Star game. After a little more than four years with the Canucks he moved on to play in 55 games with the Detroit Red Wings, where his penalty minutes continued to dominate the stats sheet, but his offensive production tailed off considerably. Williams had 158 penalty minutes but only three goals and eight assists.
The next stop for Tiger was another West Coast club, this time with the Kings in Los Angeles. He had two reasonably productive years for the Kings, scoring 49 and 34 points in the 1985-86 and 1986-87 campaigns. And, true to form, he continued his long-standing friendship with the penalty box, spending 320 and 358 minutes in the box during those two seasons.
The final NHL destination for Williams was Hartford, where he appeared in 26 games for the Whalers in 1987-88, scoring six goals and 87 penalty minutes. At the age of 34, he found the rigors of everyday NHL life had finally caught up to him, so retired soon thereafter.
Tiger's final NHL statistics are as follows: 962 regular-season games played, 241 goals, 272 assists, 513 points and a record 3,966 minutes in penalties. He appeared in 83 playoff contests, scoring 12 goals and 23 assists.
When asked who he considered some of his more difficult NHL fighting adversaries, Williams responded "all of them." Although he does say players such as Terry O'Reilly deserve the most respect, playing every third shift of every NHL game while also having to handle the rough and tumble side of things. Dave Semenko, the former Edmonton Oilers policeman, is also highly regarded by Williams.
Now that Tiger is out of hockey, he follows many different business interests, primarily in the Vancouver area. He continues to play in NHL old-timers games and remains close friends with many of his former teammates, most notably Darryl Sittler and Lanny McDonald.