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PHT readers poll: Enforcers losing relevance

Jun 20, 2010, 7:00 PM EDT

throwingknuckles.jpgMy opinion is that the enforcer is going the way of the dodo. I’m not necessarily celebrating their extinction; it just seems obvious to me that in a speed-and-skill-fueled NHL, knuckedraggers are unnecessary. With that thought – and the struggles of Derek Boogaard, Georges Laraque and Donald Brashear in mind as well – I asked PHT readers if enforcers really help teams win hockey games.

Check out the poll results below (click to enlarge).

enforcerpoll.JPG

I admit that the question was a bit too simplistic, but the goal was to see if readers found enforcers important. Here is a more worthwhile comparison, though. Thanks to the always vital Hockeyfights.com, I was able to look at the league’s fighting major leaders in the regular season and playoffs.

First, the top 5 in fighting majors during the 2009-10 season.

1. Zenon Konopka – 33
2 (tied). Ian Laperriere – 25
Brandon Prust – 25
4. Matt Carkner – 24
5. Colton Orr – 23

Now, let’s take a look at the top fighters during the playoffs.

1. Justin Abdelkader – 2
17 players tied with one fight.

OK, I admit, the regular season is much longer than the postseason. Obviously, there are more opportunities for fights with 30 teams playing 82 games. Still, the difference is striking. I mean, every player on that top 5 regular season list fought more times than the entire NHL in the playoffs.

Naturally, the stakes are higher in playoff games so players don’t want to risk suspensions or instigator penalties. Still, it’s interesting that the playoffs put up all those great numbers without thuggish behavior. I’m not a part of the “take fighting out of hockey” club, but I don’t need knuckles thrown to enjoy hockey. Sometimes, the threat of violence is helpful in deterring too many shenanigans (uh oh, I’m not going into “nuclear weapons maintain peace” talk, am I?).

That being said, I wonder if the typical fighters will need to be able to skate (maybe even score) a bit to remain relevant in the NHL going forward. I, for one, think it’s a good thing.

  1. Little Tommy - Jun 21, 2010 at 6:27 AM

    You don’t see this kind of behavior in the other major sports. We don’t need it in hockey and I feel it works to the league’s detriment. The game is becoming too sophisticated and too fast.

  2. Purist - Jun 21, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    I respectfully disagree. If anything, the instigator penalty needs to be removed so the “agitators” think twice about taking cheap shots. Nobody did that to Gretzky or they felt the wrath of Semenko or Mcsorley. People took shots at Maple Leaf players all season in 2008/2009, with the addition of Colton Orr in 2009/2010 nobody dared. Intimidation is part of the game and I hope it always is.

  3. Little Tommy - Jun 21, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    Then your sport will forever be relegated to a second tier event. Cheap shots should be rewarded with penalty minutes not more fistfights…gimme a break. It’s hockey not WWF.

  4. Cherryboy - Jun 22, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    This isn’t true, Zenon Kenopka got into 33 fights, the most since Peter Worell in 2001-2002, Enforcer aren’t losing relevance. Boogaard can’t find a dance partner, Laraque won’t fight, and Donald Brashear complained about his role so was sent down to the Rangers AHL affiliate in Hartford.

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