As the rumours swirl on whether GMMG signs Cam Janssen, or another pugilistic type, we look at what some of the other teams in the West have already done, what the Canucks should do, and do we even need a knuckledragger anyhow?
Me? I am of the opinion that we do, if only because the other guys are going to try that style of game. It is hardly surprising, given that every year the NHL teams try to mimic what the Cup winners did. This year, that is pretty silly though. I mean, most everyone agrees that the Finals had some "relaxed" parameters on the officiating side. Teams are going to be unhappy with the referees a lot this coming year, if they expect that, particularly in the regular season.
So, we'll see how that works out, but lets take a look at what the other guys did ;
Chicago - Ahhh, yes, the Hawks. If there is a team that needs an enforcer to back up the talk, its this one. While John Scott returns, they added noted freak Daniel Carcillo, and generally good guy but now obvious asshole Jamal Mayers. Sean O'Donnell can toss em when they have to. Verdict? Tougher, for sure. Not sure how the bunch hired are going to handle speed teams, however. The PK better be really good!
San Jose - Perhaps every team has not blindly bought into the "strategy". The Sharks obviously tried the goon tactic in round 3, and we saw how that worked. Gone are noted idiot Ben Eager, and Mr Mayers. They have not been replaced yet. Well, Jim Vandermeer is tough, right? Verdict? Not tougher yet. Perhaps an incomplete. Their coach is from the Detroit model though, so maybe they have not totally bought into the arms race.
Detroit - Speaking of which, the Wings set standards, they don't follow the copycat strategy. They did hire Garnet Exelby. Tomas Holmstrom is still a bitch, and they have some guys like him that will stir it up. Niklas Kronwall has to answer for his bone rattlers on occasion.Verdict? I don't see the Wings hiring a 4th line goon unless he can play too.
Anaheim - Now, this is a team that believes in the good strategy. They won a Cup in '07 that way. Since then, they have had some of the tougher lineups in the league. This year? Well, George Parros is still around. Sheldon Brookbank is supposed to be tough right? Maybe not, as the Ducks added J.F Jacques and are looking to see if Mike Tyson has learned to skate yet. Verdict? Tougher. Who knows with them, they will probably add another guy still!
Los Angeles - Like most things with this team, they probably think they are tougher than they really are. While they definitely improved in the offseason, and will be better, the Kings have led too many pre season predictions and fallen short to me to believe they are the as good as they hope, at least until they show us. To protect their new toys, the Kings still have Westgarth and Clifford. New guy Colin Fraser does not back down when challenged. Verdict? Meh. Probably tough enough, but if the arms race continues and more pugilists are hired in the West, look for this team to react more than others might.
Nashville - Well, the Predators have Jordin Tootoo of course, and have always stood up for themselves OK. But they look to have bought in a little bit. I mean, they signed noted meathead Zach Stortini, and I hear that even though he is 5'9", Lebda is a BEAST! Verdict? Maybe tougher with Stortini. Certainly not smarter.
Phoenix - As the Coyotes prepare for another possible "last season in the desert", have they followed the crowd yet, and found someone to help BizNasty in the fisticuffs skills competition? Well, Alexandre Bolduc can throw them and is wiling, but he might throw out his shoulder while he is at it. Ryan Hollweg is the definition of "knuckledragger", but only got in three games last year. Raffi Torres always has that crazy look in his eye. Verdict? Tougher, I guess. But only slightly.
Dallas - The Stars saved some money with the loss of Richards, but will they spend it all? Who knows? Like the 'Yotes, they are in ownership limbo. They did add some dickishness to an already dickish lineup though, with the addition of Vernon Fiddler, to go with noted Canuck hater Krystofer ( who the fuck names their kid like that? Its Christopher ) Barch, Adam Burish and Steve Ott. Jake Dowell joined the team, but like the rest of these guys, none of them are much bigger than 6'0". Hey, Adam Pardy is 6'2"! Verdict? Expect lots more talk, and a lot less action from the Dallas team.
Calgary - Everyone's fave team to hate ( well, sorta, maybe if you get good again Calgary ) has always bought into the bully tactics as a part of their team. Its obvious it has not totally helped them lately. But Raitis Ivanans was concussed all last year right? Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos kept up the douche quotient while he was out. Verdict? MEH. What's new? Knowing these guys, they will spend all their remaining cap space on knuckledraggers because NO ONE is tougher than the Flames!
Edmonton - Though the Oilers are certainly going to make sure the Battle of Alberta looks like the final scenes in Slapshot. The Oilers lost some of their old pugilists, like Stortini and Jacques, but they quickly replaced them with Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk ( who immediately decided to announce his presence by threatening the Canucks and Flames...). They then decided to replace a guy with some skill on the blue line in Kurtis Foster with Andy Sutton, who, no offense to the man and his family, has more of a rougher game. Verdict? Tougher? Who cares, its the Oilers. Their PK better get WAAAAAAAAY better this year, or this team will get the 1st pick next year too.
St Louis - The Blues have always had a tough team, and this year will be no different. While they may lose out on Cam Janssen ( he is not even on their website any more ), they have B.J Crombeen still. Jason Arnott does not fight often, but he is 6'5' and plays a physical game. Ryan Reaves has 78 PIMs in 28 games. New guy Kent Huskins can play tough too. Verdict? I don't think they are done. Cam Janssen will be replaced, but this team is always tough, and got more stout so far this offseason.
Colorado - The Avs did not go out and hire one of the hired guns for their young team. Yet. Cody McLeod will probably be joined from the as of now unemployed NHL fist chuckers. I would bet they are one of the other teams in on Janssen. Verdict? Incomplete. At least Av fans hope so!
Minnesota - The Wild seem to be making a bigger push than usual for the team that hates ours more than we even care about them. With only 16 players even listed on the main roster on their website as of today, they are not done yet. Noted asshole Brad Staubitz and premiere pinhead Cal Clutterbuck ( don't expect that guy to drop the mitts! ) have Kyle Brodziak to help out on occasion, but the verdict for the Wild is incomplete.
Columbus - The Blue Jackets are another team that is looking to make a big splash. They already did by getting Carter and Wisniewski, but are they going to depend on Jared Boll as their policeman? Maybe Umberger can fight more. Verdict. incomplete. Another team in the bargain aisle checking out the deals on punchers.
I said at the top I think that we should hire Janssen, as we need a pure pugilist. I should qualify that. I want a 2nd line winger for Kesler more than a knuckledragger. The Canucks have plenty of guys that play physical, and several that can drop the gloves. I just want a pugilist so the physical guys don't risk their hands on guys like Hordichuk's helmet ( or head, lets face it, he has a hard head...) One like Janssen is OK. One that has more than 1 goal and 3 assists in 54 games, like Cam, might be a little better.