Penalty Minutes are a somewhat controversial category in fantasy hockey, but I love it. In fact I won’t ever play in a league that doesn’t count it. Fighters (tough guys) are the gladiators of the NHL. It’s up to them to protect the franchise player and it’s up to them to light a spark in lopsided games. But unfortunately it can take a toll on their body (and mind). In the last 14 months, 4 of the best fighters in recent memory have passed on. Last July it was one of the all time great heavyweights Bob Probert. This year it was Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and most recently Wade Belak. As a tribute, go watch some of Belak’s best work. If I were an NHL tough guy I might consider a different profession. Shouldn’t the NHL be looking into this? It’s not like there are thousands of former NHL tough guys out there. We’re talking about just a handful of guys. Unless you’re Vince McMahon, don’t you think such a high mortality rate linked to a single profession should at least be investigated? Gary Bettman your thoughts? “I got more money from NBC and Versus than we would have from ESPN.” No Gary, we’re talking about the recent deaths of NHL tough guys here. “NHL revenues continue to increase and attentance has been at an all time high.”… Okay we’re getting nowhere with Ro-Bottman, he’s been stuck on “Defend the NHL” mode for half a decade now. The point is these guys are awesome and we need to ensure they stay breathing or else risk losing fighting from the game forever. So in honor of these fallen warriors (“You must have the warrior mindset!”) come on VTB, now is not the time. In honor of these guys I’m gonna take a look at some NHL tough guys who can not only fight, but also give you something to chew on in the other categories.
Steve Ott – C/LW (Dal): Supposedly the Stars are going to move Ott out to the wing alongside Jamie Benn and newly acquired Michael Ryder (which actually doesn’t sound too good for Jamie Benn). Ott has a reputation as being a real prick and a trash talker, but at least he tries to back it up with his fists. He had 183 Penalty Minutes last year, which is just awesome. But what makes it even more awesome is that he also had 12 Goals, 20 Assists, 120 Shots and an incredible 10 Power Play Points. He ott to be in my Center rankings, which are coming next week.
Steve Downie – RW (TB): Prior to last year’s draft, I was on this guy like Bruce Boudreau on a hoagie. He was coming off his first full season in which he had 22 Goals, 24 Assists, 11PPP’s and 208 minutes in the sin-bin. Just looking over that line again makes me druel… But last season he couldn’t stay healthy and eventually lost his spot on the Power Play, and I don’t think he’ll get another shot unless some injuries happen (specifically to Purcell and/or Malone). But I still have high hopes for him on the scoring side, and the PIM’s will definately be there.
Sean Avery – LW (NYR): I can’t do a post about fighters who put points on the board without mentioning Sean Avery. Scoring wise he had something of a down year in 2010-2011 so I wouldn’t expect more than a point a week. I also wouldn’t ever date any girl after he dumps them.
P.K. Subban – D (Mon): My love for P.K. has already been documented, but I’m worried his bandwagon is getting a little too crowded. His ADP keeps inching up and I worry come draft time he’ll be going in the 5th round or something crazy like that. And if thats the case he won’t be on any of my teams this year.
Scott Hartnell – LW (Phi): Scotty has been the undisputed king of these players for a while now. Last year was a typical Scott Hartnell season with 24 Goals, 25 Assists, plus 14, 10PPP’s, 177 Shots and a tasty 142 PIM’s. I would expect at least that kind of production this year, maybe more.
Ryan Clowe – LW (SJ): Why are most of these guys Left Wingers you ask? I have no idea, usually it’s the right-wingers who are angry and want to fight (bad attempt at a political joke – sorry it won’t happen again!). Anyway Clowe had a monster breakout last year and with Heatley now out of the picture in San Jose his role could increase.
Milan Lucic – LW (Bos): The new undisputed king of the scoring tough guys surpassed Hartnell last year and now is primed to stay on top for the next 5+ years. 30 Goals, 32 Assists, a plus 28 (really?!), 121PIM’s and a ton of shots was his line in 2010-2011.. Yeah that has me drueling even more than Steve Downie did last year.
Honorable Mentions: Brandon Prust – LW (NYR), Matt Cooke – LW (Pit). And for those of you who are about to comment “What no Corey Perry???” I say yes I know, I didn’t forget him. But I just never think of him in the “tough guy” sense. He’s just a pest who pisses people off and does stupid things that get him those awesome 10 Minute Game misconduct. That’s it for now. Have a good holiday weekend!