Monday night, New York Rangers defenseman John Moore knocked Minnesota Wild forward Erik Haula out of the game with an elbow. According to Wild coach Mike Yeo, Haula didn’t suffer a concussion, but was held out of Tuesday’s game against the Boston Bruins as a precaution.
After watching another act of brutality against the Minnesota Wild. I must ask the question: Do the Wild need an enforcer?
Currently, the Minnesota Wild lack a designated tough guy that plays an enforcer role. They also lack team toughness.
Last season, the Wild had two designated tough guys. Neither player was very effective in that role and the Wild have parted ways with both players.
Moving forward to the present, the NHL game is changing, and fighting is becoming less prevalent. That’s a positive development. In today’s game, there’s not a lot of room on an NHL roster for a two shift, four minute player that can only fight.
Teams no longer can afford to have a tough guy taking up space on the player’s bench. One dimensional players like Sharks forward John Scott are a dying breed.
Before the season started, the Toronto Maple Leafs waived tough guys Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. Even the Toronto Maple Leafs reluctantly admitted that they could no longer afford to stockpile tough guys on their roster.
In 2014, NHL teams are looking for players that can actually play hockey and add toughness. The Boston Bruins have a number of these players. That being said, players like Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic don’t grow on trees.
Turn the other cheek, and bury them on the power-play
There’s a mindset emerging. Instead of having a lineup full of knuckle dragging Nethanderals, you build a team that is made up of skilled forwards and puck moving defensemen. The focus is on team skill, and team toughness isn’t as important.
Instead of relying on vigilante justice to get even, you turn the other cheek. Instead of beating up the opposition, you beat the opposition on the score board. Instead of sitting in the penalty box for five minutes, you make the opposition pay the price on the power-play.
You see where this is going?
Recently, this line of thinking hasn’t worked very well for the Wild. Without the fear of retribution, teams are taking runs at the Wild’s skilled players. Currently, the Wild don’t have a player that puts fear in the opposition, and keeps opposing teams from taking runs at their skilled players. The Wild might need to add an equalizer on their roster, if their skilled players keep getting runned.
Also, the Wild aren’t making the opposition pay on the power-play, either. So far this season, the Minnesota Wild have been dismal on the power-play going 0-for-26. So much for making them pay on the power-play.
On Monday night they had two five-minute power-plays and failed to score. That can’t continue to happen if the Wild are going to be successful.
Finally, should the Minnesota Wild try to pickup an enforcer to protect the Wild’s skilled players?
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.