It is inevitable that this subject keep coming up. Mostly because I keep bringing it up, but that’s beside the point.
Once again we find that while the team is clearly weak in one or two places, we going back to the brief stint with Brett Hull and Les Jackson at the helm, in which we stack skill sets that we have ample amounts of. Some site the Bruins game where we lost two players to injury and essentially got every face on the team punched in. But you have to wonder if that isn’t the worst reason ever to develop a team for… pride.
That said, it could also be that because Brad Richards is absent, players like Steve Ott, Adam Burish and Brendan Morrow will have to step up their offense and as such they can’t fight. Why? Because, for one they can’t score from the box and two they can’t score from the injured list, right? And we all saw how horrible Dallas played without Burish in the line-up last year. This is a more meritable reason to bring in players like Godard and stack at the enforcer role; but is it good enough?
No, probably not. It can be argued that 1 person who simply fights is a waste of a roster spot, so why do we have 2 now? As I said in a previous post, the contract that Godard has hints that he is intended to replace Barch after this year is up (when Barch’s contract is up). However, where does that leave players in the AHL who fill the role and could possibly even do more, such as Wathier, Gazdic and others? It seems like for a team who is partially rebuilding, leaving room for player development would be key, especially at a largely unecessary position like enforcer/4th liner since you can go most games without them even in the line-up.
So, I guess the question we are left with is, who is the enforcer or rather how does management decide who is the best fit at the limited position? Is it Krys Barch, the rusty fighter who is mediocre, but known and adored around Dallas. Is it the new guy Godard who is a great team guy who also wins more fights? Or is it time for someone like Francis Wathier to finally solidify his position in the roster as the teams tough guy?
Well, I came up with a solution. Battle to the death. Well, maybe not the death. Maybe just to the marginally injured mark, to save money. It’s brilliant really. While the death match idea is cliche, it couldn’t be more perfect for guys who get their paycheck for taking meaty poundings on a nightly basis. While Fistric is probably the most effective guy on the team in my opinion (he beats you with your helmet if all else fails), someone has to lay it on the line and save a key player some ice time. So who is it going to be gentlemen? Let’s get this started!
Here are the stats at the official weigh-in; we will use Luke Gazdic on behalf of the prospect group because he is a fighter through-in-through with 18 fights in the AHL last season for the Texas Stars. All statistics are brought from NHL.com, there are some discrepancies on weight throughout the internet, so make note of that.
Weight: 209 lbs
Weight: 214 lbs
LET THE ANALYTICAL BATTLE BEGIN!
So, lets take into account size first: Clearly as far as pure mass goes, the prospect Gazdic has the one-up. While Godard is a close second, if we are to believe the NHL.com statistics (226 pounds) versus the HockeyFights.com statistics (210 pounds) then he is a hulking ball of anger. Krys Barch is left in the dust as he is both shorter and lighter than his two opponents.
Winner: Gazdic on behalf of the Prospects
EXPERIENCE MATTERS TOO, RIGHT?
Next on the list of pointless analysis comes experience. Regardless of what anyone says, experience can be a huge benefit for an individual player as well as for the team around said individual. Time and time again we hear coaches, analysts and media talk about balancing the locker room with both youthful exuberance and veteran experience/leadership. Some of that has to transfer over to even the enforcer/toughguy/4th line grinder, in theory. While players like Jamie Benn may not take time out from undressing defensemen and scoring shorties to look to Krys Barch or Eric Godard for tips on how to throw the proper haymaker, there are others that could learn from not just the fighting but how to lead a team with passion. Not to mention experience generally means more victories in the rounded rectangle. So who wins this match up?
Well, you can certainly count the 21 year old Gazdic out for this one. While he is large and fueled by potential, he is only just now making his way to the AHL and bounds away from making it to the NHL as a call-up. The same can be said for other prospects such as Wathier who has been called up only a handful of times. On the other hand you have Barch and Godard… both 31 years of age, both have seen an ample amount of time; for an enforcer anyhow. While both have played pro hockey for as long as anyone can remember, Godard has more time in the NHL on a per-season basis. While Barch is more well known to Stars fans, Godard has seen time as an Islander as early as the 02-03 and 03-04 seasons. In addition, Godard has seen time in the playoffs where Barch’s post-season experience is essentially non-existent. Sorry Barchy but it looks like the new guy gets this one.
FIGHTERS ARE FOR THE FANS.
While it can be said that the fighters on a team server as inspiration for their bench more than anything. They can turn the tide of a game with a well-timed punch in a well-timed fight as easily as a timely goal can at times. But at the same time, fights are kept in the game with only loose stipulations and punishments for punching another players skull in because the fans expect it from the game and many only go to the games in hopes of a fight breaking out, much like one might attend a NASCAR race in hopes for a fiery wreck. We can get into what that says about us as human beings at a later date, but I think on a Dallas Stars fan basis, there is no arguing that Krys Barch has earned his stripes over the last 4 or 5 years with the organizations. While he isn’t as popular as Otter or Morrow, everyone knows that when he’s on the ice it is likely he is going to start a hand to hand skirmish.
This could change at any given moment, sure – but for now, Barch has the Dallas fans behind him. At least the ones who aren’t drowning in cynicism after a distinct lack of playoff births as of late.
I suppose this all makes it clear that at the end of the day each of the options has a fair amount of pros and cons. It could endlessly be argued as to which is more important in this field. Is the future powered by youth and size? Or is experience and locker room presence what will make the enforcer role effective? Or perhaps Krys Barch is just the familiar face that the team and the fans need right now in a time of transition? At the end of the day only time will tell, as it seems to be with just about everything in the off-season.
One thing is clear, however: All of this speculation could be avoided if they’d just have a death match…