I guess my point is that there was a time when enforcers or “policemen”, as we tended to call them in the old days, brought more than fists to the party.
To draw a clearer distinction, I’m also not here speaking of the so-called “power-forwards” (again not a term in use in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s). These are the players who could and can fight their own battles if they had to, played tough in the corners and in front of the net and were/are elite level scorers, too. Over the years, different players spring to mind who certainly fit that category, including Gordie Howe, Cam Neely and Brendan Shanahan.
Rather, my reference point are the guys in the really old days who were there largely to protect their teammates, but who could also put up “numbers”.
They were indispensible.
I wrote recently about Eddie Shack (right, in early 1960s' action against Ted Green and the Bruins) and his role with the Leafs in the 1960s. Some saw him as an enforcer, though I thought of him in somewhat different terms. But Shack could fight, yes, and his erratic, aggressive style meant opposing players had to keep their heads up at all times when Shack was on the ice. Importantly, he could score. He topped 20 goals when that wasn’t easy to do, and over his career netted well over 200 goals.