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Columnist gives detailed analysis of NHL rats

Jan 11, 2012, 12:27 PM EDT

Sami Salo, Brad Marchand AP

Toronto Star columnist Joseph Hall has compiled an interesting list of hockey rodents.

Yes, rodents. They’re all the rage right now thanks to two incidents — one, Toronto GM Brian Burke’s “the rats will take this game over” rant from last week and two, noted Boston Bruins rat Brad Marchand getting suspended five games for low-bridging Vancouver’s Sami Salo.

Bottom line: It’s a rat’s world out there. Everybody else is just living in it, trying to get by, scraping cheese off the tops of discarded pizza boxes.

In his piece, Hall identified eight top rats — or “agitators,” a label they’d probably prefer — as well as a host of honorable (dishonorable?) mentions. See what you think.

Vancouver: Alex Burrows, Maxim Lapierre

Quotable: “Burrows, an effective scorer, has been accused of performing penalty drawing dives — a signature rat stunt — while Lapierre has a trash-talking reputation and has dished out his share of questionable hits.”

Pittsburgh: Matt Cooke

Quotable: “Cooke has cleaned up his act considerably this year after Penguins management told him the routine would end his career.”

Dallas: Steve Ott

Quotable: “Unlike many in this category, Ott will throw down this gloves. But he’ll take it to the gutter.”

Tampa Bay: Steve Downie

Quotable: “His coup de grace came in 2007 as a Flyer when he launched himself off the ice to take the Senators’ Dean McAmmond into the boards.”

Chicago: Dan Carcillo, Dave Bolland

Quotable: “With his maniacal, gap-toothed grin, Dan Carcillo resembles a young Bobby Clarke, the prototype in this category. Teammate Bolland is know for both his lively stick and mouth.”

Buffalo: Patrick Kaleta

Quotable: “[He] was suspended three games in November for head butting Jakub Voracek — the third time in two years he’s been caught using that technique.”

Hall also tagged Columbus’ Derek Dorsett, Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo, New Jersey’s David Clarkson, Ottawa’s Nick Foligno, Phoenix’s Raffi Torres and Toronto’s Colby Armstrong as “Agitators All”. Even if you disagree with the classification, you have to admit there’s a large number of ratlike agitators in the league right now and, compellingly, a number of quality teams employing them.

Of the current top 10 teams in the league, Vancouver, Boston, Chicago, Ottawa and Nashville have players on this list (also: the first-place Rangers only recently parted ways with Sean Avery; fourth-place St. Louis has Scott Nichol.)

It’s interesting to see more and more teams go this route, and it begs the question: Like they once did with enforcers, will every team soon employ a full-time rat?

  1. buffalomafia - Jan 11, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Sometimes hits cant be avoided during momentum!

    I can see penalizing a player for a flagurant hit but then again you cant play 2 hand touch hockey?

  2. davebabychreturns - Jan 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    What is a “full time rat”? All of these guys can play hockey, hell even Matt Cooke is a good defensive player.

    • Mike Halford - Jan 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      A guy defined primarily by his agitation skills (or, his No. 1 skill is agitating people). There are only a few that actually fit this description — Carcillo, Kaleta, Dorsett, Tootoo — but you could make the argument there are more full-time rats in the league now than full-time enforcers.

      • Mike Halford - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:00 PM

        And in a related story, Pittsburgh just put Steve MacIntyre on waivers.

      • davebabychreturns - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        Fair enough Mike. I have to admit, saying “even Matt Cooke is pretty good” is misleading because he’s a better player than guys like Tootoo (although Carcillo plays in the top six and Kaleta and Dorsett are used on special teams).

        I guess my only beef is that a lot of players are “defined” by their agitation skills because that’s what gets attention more than solid defensive play or even goals in the case of Alex Burrows (outside of Vancouver anyway).

        But I definitely think it’s true that in these terms we’ll see a lot more rats than enforcers in the NHL very soon if it isn’t the case already, primarily because it seems like of the small group of people who can play NHL hockey, more are willing and able to be rats than enforcers.

        Another Vancouver blogger gone national had a post recently detailing how few fighters there are that can play, and using the requirement of 10 goals and 10 fighting majors there were seven in the league last year – one of them being confirmed rat Steve Ott.

      • predswilrule - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:39 PM

        apparently you dont see toots play much. he has been our best forward over the last month or so. has 17 points in his last 21 games pretty much all 5 on 5.

      • vshehane - Jan 13, 2012 at 11:45 AM

        Has anyone actually watched Tootoo play this year?

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 11, 2012 at 5:42 PM

      I don’t – to be honest I was looking at his icetime when I made that statement, basically just to confirm he’s not a PK regular or anything since he’s usually on the fourth line when I see him.. although clearly it’s been awhile.

  3. madtolive5 - Jan 11, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Torress is beyond a rat. He doesn’t even want to play hockey, he just wants to hurt people.

    • haterzgonahate - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:14 PM

      perfect fit for the Bruins

      • dropthepuckeh - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        Pretty sure McQuaid let everyone know how the Bruins feel about Torres. Poetry in motion. Not surprising to see Vancouver has two that qualify – 3 last year with Torres. Just part of the culture up there these days I guess. Funny to see all amazement when they get a little if it back in return….

      • drewsylvania - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        The Bruins hate Torres. As noted, McQuaid smeared him.

      • gallyhatch - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        Well, at least we can count on ‘haterzgonahate’ to provide a valid, non-biased, intelligent hockey opinion.

        Awesome username by the way, so awesome. It tells me everything I need to know about your level of intelligence.

      • Ralphie - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

        Pretty sure he made his bones building his rat resume in Vancouver the last several years before moving on after his Stanley Cup thuggery last summer. Shows how much you know about the game poseur.

      • bobwsc - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        statement like yours could only come from a rat. well done given the theme of the article.

  4. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Downie might be a rat, but, unlike guys like Avery, he doesn’t back down when challenged. You gotta respect a guy who will take on anyone whose skin he gets under.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      Downie scares the shit out of me. He plays like he’s completely unhinged.

      • baddorange - Jan 11, 2012 at 7:53 PM

        Thats great. T.B. needs more aggressive players anyway

  5. comeonnowguys - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Wow, Bolland and Carcillo are nothing alike. Once really doesn’t go outside the rules, and the other is Dan Carcillo.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      Really, you don’t think Dave Bolland has a penchant for stickwork?

      • imleftcoast - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        Bolland perfected a tomahawk chop on the Sedins, and wasn’t even penalized for it. On top of that, he’s out whining about them and can’t a hit.

      • comeonnowguys - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:12 PM

        Really? There’s a difference between talking smack and whining. I know they may be one in the same to you, but there is a difference.

        Also, I’m not sure it’s a good idea bringing up a youtube clip given all the material regarding said Sedins.

        I’m not saying Bolland’s remotely close to an angel, I would just wouldn’t find many cases where he’d be in the same sentence as the Carcillo, Torres, and Averys of the world.

  6. drewsylvania - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    The community needs to solidify its definition of “rat”. I’d say you can be a rat without being a cheap-shot artist. Playing right up to the edge of the rules without going over.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      Uhh isn’t that pretty much everyone in the NHL’s job – ‘playing right up to the edge of the rules without going over’?

      There’d be about 400 “rats” in the NHL by that standard.

      • drewsylvania - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        Yeah, but most players don’t make a career out of going for that on every play.

  7. buffalomafia - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    How can you call Kaleta a “RAT” when he cant fight?

    He doesnt even belong in the nhl?

    • drewsylvania - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      I don’t think “fighter” is in the definition of “rat”. In fact, a lot of “rats” don’t fight.

  8. mydadyourmom - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Ask Dorsett if Kaleta knows how to fight.

  9. tmjm621 - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Not a single boston player??!! Are you kidding me. Theyre whole team are cheapshot artists and they always get away with it. Fnally that f****t marchand got something. Nw maybe it will take lucic to murder someone before he gets a substantial punishment.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:53 PM

      Uh, Marchand is in the very first line of the article.

      Stop whining.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      And props on the homophobia. Really.

    • gallyhatch - Jan 11, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      Yeah, maybe not everyone else in the world believes “Theyre (sic) whole team are (sic) cheapshot artists and they always get away with it.”

      It’s kind of hard to mask your bitterness when you are putting ‘sentences’ like that out there.

      Yeah, and just to hammer home your point you throw the gay slur out there. Good work bro, you’re a credit to your fanbase. (whichever one that is, I don’tknow for sure, but I have an idea)

  10. redrew - Jan 11, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    According to the list:
    Vancouver 2 Rats
    Boston 0 Rats

    • drewsylvania - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:13 AM

      Marchand is in the first line.

  11. nuckss - Jan 11, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    I really don’t think that guys like burrows and lapierre should be on this list. There are yappy but not particularly dirty. Downie, carcillo, marchand, ruutu in his day, cooke and kaleta definitely belong. I don’t recall either burrows or lapierre seriously injuring anyone with a rat play. The finger biting last year was deserved by bergeron. If you put your fingers in my mouth I will bite them!

    • soupy19 - Jan 11, 2012 at 7:59 PM

      Sorry nuckss. I hate to post another Youtube clip in the comments of this article, but this is about as dirty as it gets with Lappy. Ray Ferraro agrees.

      • nuckss - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        Ok that’s dirty. I was thinking more of his time with the Canucks. Never really saw him play before his time in Vancouver. Anyway, that’s in the past and I haven’t seen any of that since he got to Van.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:14 AM

      Burrows isn’t dirty?

      /me collapses in laughter.

      • nuckss - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:11 PM

        I don’t think he has seriously hurt anyone which is an important part of my definition of dirty. Little pokes and yappiness classify him as an agitator in my book.

      • drewsylvania - Jan 12, 2012 at 8:37 PM

        Yeah, he didn’t break the skin.

  12. buffalomafia - Jan 11, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    The Broad Street Bullies!

  13. deweygroup - Jan 11, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    I believe the statement above about Vancouver having no rats is correct……the only have a bunch of pu**ies,

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