Blackhawks News

The Enforcer Role Doesn’t Fit The Blackhawks Needs In 2014-2015

By Keith Schultz
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Mar 28, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks left wing

Brandon Bollig

(52) fights with Ottawa Senators right wing

Chris Neil

(25) in the first period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest rage this offseason in the NHL has to be that bloggers were getting hired to help the analytics departments of NHL teams, yet while this may be huge, the Blackhawks have been doing their statistics for years now.  The question is in this new day and age of statistics, why do the Hawks still turn stone age with the need of an enforcer on the roster which no statistic will ever show helps the team out on a nightly basis.

If you’ve read some of my stuff about my favorite Blackhawks, Al Secord was one of my favorite players and he could do it all from scoring 50 goals to fighting Dino Ciccarelli.  The thing about Secord was he could skate, play, and produce on a line with Denis Savard and Steve Larmer and not just goon it up every night.

Since Joel Quenneville has been the coach with the Hawks he’s needed to have an enforcer on the bottom lines.  John Scott, Daniel Carcillo, Brandon Bollig are among the names that Quenneville has used as is tough guy throughout his tenure as Blackhawks coach.  The craziest thing of all is that Quenneville was planning on using Carcillo with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa in the strike shortened season of 2013 on the top line before a knee injury sidelined Carcillo in the opening game, and Brandon Saad was able to play on the top line.

The season turned out pretty good with Saad instead of Carcillo playing with two of the most talented players in the NHL in 2013, but it never ends with Quenneville because he started using Brandon Bollig more and more, but come the playoffs he only used Bollig 4 times and after two terrible games in two series he pulled out the muscle and put back in the talent even if it was Viktor Stalberg and the rest is history.

Last season Bollig tried to be a hockey player instead of and enforcer and his game after showing some signs early regressed and he struggled especially in the playoffs which didn’t end how we all wanted it to end for the Blackhawks, and in the end he was sent packing to Calgary and most Blackhawks fans rejoiced, but before the cheers could die down the name Brandon Mashinter was brought up and everyone knew that in Quenneville’s 1970’s thought process there is always The NEXT ONE in terms to enforcers.

The problem I have with all of the enforcer notion with the Blackhawks is that it doesn’t fit their identity or style of play and that their analytics has to support this fact.  When asked about the enforcer role Stan Bowman sidestepped the question with he just wants big physical players that can step in when the opposition tries to take LIBERTIES with the Blachawks, but they do not want to carry an enforcer.  Stan said they need guys that can fit their system while playing physical without an enforcer title.

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Looking at the players up for the “Brandon Bollig Role” (a guy who scored 7 goals in three seasons so not really a system guy) is Brandon Mashinter, Cody Bass, and Pierre-Cedric Labrie all of which would be considered enforcers and not hockey players in their limited time in the NHL.  These guys are auditioning for a role the Blackhawks don’t need to be a better team, but a role that keeps Q old school and happy, and certainly not a role that is  needed for a Stanley Cup run.  There’s enough physical play on the team to make sure players don’t take liberties with yucking up the bottom line.

A 4th line with Ben Smith, Marcus Kruger and Jeremy Morin will be a lot more effective, dangerous, and feared 4th line, than a line that is minus Morin and add your choice of three future Blackhawks enforcers.  The Blackhawks win with puck possession and deep talent pool, and this is a Stanley Cup season for the Hawks with that combination and as much fun it is going to the stadium and seeing a fight at a hockey game it’s something unneccessary in 2014-2015 for the Blackhawks and it will never be needed to change the momentum of a game for Chicago.  Bollig slowed the Hawks down why keep repeating the past!!

What do you think? Do the Hawks need and enforcer? I sure don’t think so! More talent less fighters!

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