Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Flyers Disposable Goons

Historically, the Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the roughest teams in the NHL. This year appears no different. The two lengthy suspensions so far this season have been Steve Downie's 20 game suspension for his dirty hit on Dean McAmmond of the Ottawa Senators and Jesse Boulerice's 25 game suspension for a vicious cross-check against Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks. The Flyers have reacted in both cases by essentially getting rid of the suspended player. And why not? They have other goons who can take their place.

Steve Downie was sent to the minors after receiving his suspension. He is suspended for one month in the AHL and for 20 games whenever he is on the Flyers NHL roster. Since Downie is a good prospect (they picked him in the first round of the 2005 draft), I expect that sooner or later he will be placed in the Flyers lineup (likely during homestands etc. when the lack of a roster space is less important) in order to serve the suspension. He can be shuttled back and forth between the AHL and NHL to get some playing time during the suspension. At any rate, in the short term, Downie got suspended and as far as the Flyers are concerned he is gone.

Jesse Boulerice is not a prospect. The Flyers signed him after he came to their training camp without a contract. He is 29 years old and likely will not become a better NHL player. If he is suspended for 25 games he has little value, so the Flyers waived him yesterday. Boulerice is disposable. He did his job, but with the suspension he is no longer worth it.

The Flyers have other goons on their roster Ben Eager and Riley Cote are both ready to step up. They can play the rough and tough game and if they step over the line and get a long suspension they can be disposed of and another goon can be found. There is no shortage of potential goons floating around in the minor pro leagues. Why bother with loyalty to the current one you have if he gets a lengthy suspension, when the next goon is equally good at his job?

Also, it allows you to distance yourself from the players who are doing exactly what you want them to do. For example, Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren says:

I think we're in agreement that there's no place in the game for this anymore. I do think it was an isolated incident. Jesse lost his composure, lost his cool. It's something that's not the right thing to do, at any time

About the Jesse Boulerice incident. And yet, he carries on with Ben Eager and Riley Cote to play the same game Boulerice played.

If you think Boulerice was instructed to go out and cross-check someone in the face, you're daft.

Please tell me what match penalties have been assessed to Cote and Eager. You can't compare them with what Boulerice did and pretend you have a shred of credibility.
I don't think Boulerice was instructed ot go out and cross-check somebody.

What was expected of Boulerice was that he would play a rough, tough physical game. While all players are supposed to play physical games at full intensity and deliver punishment to their opposition, even more is expected of goons in that department. There is a line players are expected to not cross (or else they will be suspended), but a goon is supposed to play right on the edge of that line. He is supposed to play outside the rules of what is written in the NHL rulebook (a successful year for Boulerice would have been 70 plus games and 200 or more penalty minutes - a lot of rulebreaking is required to acheive that).

Its very hard to say we expect you to play on the edge of illegal behaviour where you pile up a lot of penalty minutes but never cross the line in the heat of play and get a suspension. Once in a while, suspensions will happen. If you expect somebody to play right at a given limit and not corss that limit, its only a matter of time before some do cross that limit in a fast moving high intensity game like hockey.

Philadelphia does employ more goon-type players than most franchises in the NHL. They have had both lengthy suspensions so far this year. Its very reasonable to conclude that they expect their goons to play a rougher more illegal style of game than most franchises. As soon as the goon crosses the line and gets suspended he is disposable. There are more where he came from.
1) Sorry Puck, but what Boulerice was hardly within his job description as a resident tough guy/goon, etc. He may be expendable, but he should be for NOT doing his job
2) We at FAUXRUMORS always advocate high emotion with lots of good hitting and fighting but there is no place for what he did. It gives alltough/goons a bad name and ammunition for the anti-fighting pansies!
No Boulerice wasn't quite doing his job. His job was to play on the edge of illegal (with lots of penalty minutes) without crossing over to the realm of long suspension. That's a tough balancing act to do. It is expected that people placed in that position will cross the line in the heat of the moment and enter the long suspension realm with some frequency.

When he does that, Philly just throws him away and disavows any responsibility for the situation, when they put him into the situation where there was a reasonable probability an event like that may occur.
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