Hockey is universally known for being a fast-paced and physical sport. For years and years, teams have always had at least one guy that was the “tough-guy.” This player was not afraid to get in the nitty-gritty zones on the ice. If the situation arose, they wouldn’t hesitate to drop the gloves either. It’s important that a team has at least one guy like this, so do the Pittsburgh Penguins need more grit?
Pittsburgh’s History With Grit
To set the record straight, by no means is a gritty player, or enforcer, a bad player. The level of skill it takes to crack an NHL roster is astronomical. They aren’t known for putting up the points, but these guys are momentum shifters. All it takes is one big hit or a fight to completely change the movement of the game. That being said, Pittsburgh has seen quite a few of these gritty players.
Generally, they are fourth-liners and aren’t permanent. In the Penguins’ case, they’ve had a revolving door of tough guys on the roster. The most recent notable tough guy they’ve had was Ryan Reaves. Acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Blues, Reaves played in only 58 games before he was shipped off to Vegas for Derick Brassard. Everybody knows how the Brassard experiment went, however.
Other than Reeves, Pittsburgh has had nearly too many to count. There were players like Georges Laraque, Arron Asham and Eric Godard to name only a few. Grit is something that any team needs and would love, but these kind of players are being phased out. The game focuses more on skill and fluidity now rather than physically overpowering your opponent. Still, grit is important. Should the Penguins look to add more in their lineup?
It’s A Toss-Up
They certainly could add grit and it wouldn’t hurt them in the slightest. It seems that any time the Penguins play a rival, like the Capitals or the Flyers, there’s nobody that is really willing to fight. Of course, there is the fan-favorite Brandon Tanev. The “wild-man” is beyond fearless, but standing at only 6 feet tall and 180 pounds he can be easily outmatched.
There have been rumblings of the Penguins acquiring Anaheim Ducks forward Nicolas Deslauriers. At this year’s trade deadline, the Penguins seemed to really favor Deslauriers for his gritty style of play. However, this decision was ultimately scrapped and never came to fruition. However, looking at the Penguins’ roster, is it truly necessary?
Well, yes and no. As previously stated, Pittsburgh already has a gritty player in Tanev. However, he is on the smaller side and can be outmatched. Because of this, they don’t really need a second. However, they could use a guy that could drop the gloves and get into a scrap knowing that he will come out on top. Fights are big momentum shifters and could energize the team enough to dominate the opposition.
This could go either way. The Penguins could target a cheaper player in free agency this offseason solely for the purpose of grit. However, they shouldn’t trade for a gritty player. The team is already laden with talent and chemistry, so shaking up that chemistry could lead to some disastrous outcomes.
Go to our NHL page for more updates!