There’s no escaping it, the Sharks have enforcers. Not one, not two, but three. Newly acquired John Scott, veteran Adam Burish, and his replacement last season: Mike Brown. The best Sharks enforcer is not going to be a debate that rages through the fan base. But, if the youngsters heat up and stay hot, maybe the bullies will have to fight each other for a spot.
NOTE: In no way is this article supporting the idea of an enforcer. It is merely deciding which can be the most valuable to the Sharks at this time.
Breaking Down The Sharks Enforcer Position
A day in the life of a professional goon is exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, these people are warriors. Their morning skate is spent lifting weights and hardly running any drills with the team. You spend your time during the game sizing up every possible target. As soon as your coach calls your number, your adrenaline skyrockets and you explode into furious violence. “Make something happen, bud;” Famous last words for a Sharks enforcer.
The Sharks enforcer has a simple job. Keep the other team in line. Is the team down by two? Crack those knuckles, big guy, you’re up. Other team starting to pin you in your own end? Get up and knock someone down. Goals? Points? Well, that’s not important. In fact, Mike Brown, John Scott, and Adam Burish have a total of 4 goals in 113 games. While I, and a few of my associates at THW (those four links aren’t all the anti-enforcer articles we have either), don’t approve of the enforcer role, we have to deal with it while it is here.
With 57 career points in 320 games, Adam Burish is the runaway points leader among the Sharks enforcer trio. He is not the conventional enforcer that he used to be. His only season with at least 81 games netted him an immense amount of time… in the box. He had 214 PIM with the Blackhawks in 07-08. Since then, he hasn’t hit triple digits in PIM. However, that season he also earned 8 points. After that, “physical” season, Burish buckled down and became a legitimate fourth line player. A trade to the Stars turned him into a near 0.33 points per game player.
Burish with the Sharks is a similar tale. Low points, but not too many penalty minutes either. The redeeming quality of Adam Burish is his ability to handle the puck. Kind of. Burish is not entirely helpless on the puck as proven by his point totals over 50. However, Burish, like many enforcers in history is riddled with injuries. Recurring back problems have sidelined him multiple times, including much of last season. It will be interesting to see him get healthy.
Oh, Brown. Not to be confused with Sharks Public Enemy Number 1, Dustin Brown, Mike Brown was last year’s addition when the aforementioned Adam Burish took a lengthy ride on the injury train. Far and away, Mike Brown wins the award for most physical enforcer wearing teal this season. With over 600 PIM in his career (including 75 last season with less than 50 games in San Jose), Brown owns the penalty box title. He gets nearly 2 PIM per game: his 1.99 PIM/game dwarfs John Scott’s 1.81 and Burish’s pedestrian 1.45. Brown is physical and not afraid to stand up to anyone in this league. Even if he is under six feet tall.
Mike Brown is a professional agitator. He knows his role and plays it perfectly. He can occasionally impact the scoreboard in a positive manner as well. He even took part in some of the happier games for the Sharks in last season’s playoff series with LA. The only real knock on Mike Brown is that he is tiny compared to some of the guys he is expected to protect his teammates from. At just over 200 pounds, his intimidation factor may need some help.
This man is a monster. He stands at 6’8” and that is without the skates on. He weighs 260 pounds and that is without the heavy gear on. If John Scott hits you, not only will you feel it, but your kids will too. He displayed surprising finesse to score his third career goal on Tuesday night.
I mean, it wasn’t exactly the prettiest goal you’ll see all season, but hey, he beat an NHL goaltender with a real shot. Then, he even protected his center right after the play when a crowd gathered. He towered above everyone and only a few nasty words were exchanged.
The thing about Scott, however, is when you have that much raw power built into you, it can be difficult to harness it. As seen with his hit on Loui Eriksson last season, his hits really hurt. And if he misses, they can injure. John Scott missed by a few inches. Whether or not it was dirty and malicious or simply an accident, he got suspended. The Sharks enforcer cannot be missing games due to suspension.
The Best Bully of the Bunch is…
Taking all of these figures into account, our winner, for the best of a bad group is: Mike Brown. The facial hair, the snarl, the booming hits. Brown brings it all. As the enforcer, you’ve got to be willing to throw down with anyone and everyone. Despite his lack of size, Brown has proven it. An early fight with LA’s larger Kyle Clifford displayed his fearlessness. He has even found ways to make positive plays on the puck. His goals for percentage from last season was ten points higher than Burish and Scott (0.357 compared to 0.250 for the other two).
Where Scott has been dangerous, Brown has been safer. His only suspension was merely three games to John’s seven game vacation that put Eriksson on the bench for a long time. Brown has to put a lot of effort to injure someone, while Scott is akin to a bull in a china shop. He may not mean to hurt somebody, but the big lug makes mistakes.
And while Adam Burish is the Sharks enforcer of the last few seasons, he hasn’t really done the job. Burish sits in no-man’s land between fourth line shooter and enforcer. He doesn’t do enough hitting and he doesn’t do enough scoring.
So, while Burish may be the old Shark that we all kind of like because he’s been around and John Scott is our shiny, new giant; Mike Brown is the best possible Sharks enforcer.