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“Dirty” Players Who Could End Up As Golden Knights

The NHL postseason is emotional for players and fans alike. Players are so charged up and are giving everything they have. Off the ice, rabid fans are losing their voices in packed NHL arenas. The intensity is so high players are throwing their bodies around at full speed, which is why you see occasional dangerous and sometimes nasty hits. In the playoffs these incidents get amplified because of the possible impact. Nazem Kadri’s low check on Alex Ovechkin was the perfect example.

Many, including myself thought the hit was strategic and unjust. Watching it over and over left me furious with Kadri’s obvious motive.

So what do we do if players with a tainted reputation end up in Las Vegas? How can we root for dirty players that potentially suit up for the Golden Knights? Some players made mistakes and have cleaned up their acts and others continue to cheapshot. Let’s be glad Matt Cooke is out of the league.

Matt Calvert

Calvert’s name has made multiple mock drafts, including Fox Sports earlier this month.

If you didn’t know Calvert before the playoffs, I’m sure you do now.

His late attack on Tom Kuhnhackl was clearly malicious and deserved the suspension. Emotions got the better of him, but overall he’s not a repeat offender. Calvert is a decent NHL player and Vegas fans shouldn’t find it difficult to root for.

Kevin Bieksa

There are some that think Bieksa will waive his NMC and allow his exposure in Anaheim. I tend to disagree because it’s not the best move for Bieksa’s career and the NHLPA will frown upon players waiving NMCs. To the players union every waived NMC could hurt future player contracts. Nevertheless, Bieksa is on many mock drafts. I called him Mr. Excitement because of his overall personality on and off the ice. He plays right on the line.

Many fans consider Bieksa a cheap shot artist but overall he’s had a productive career. I don’t see Bieksa having any trouble winning over Golden Knight fans.

Matt Hendricks

Again, I have to start by saying I don’t think Hendricks will be selected by Vegas but if he is were could have a real dilemma. The Edmonton Oiler is another player who plays right on the line. His incredibly dangerous hit on Aaron Ekblad last season earned him a fine and suspension.

On top of that, the league was torn apart by the press because the play was never penalized on the ice. Critics argued Hendricks’ hit proved the NHL was still far behind the pack on head injury safety. Hendricks has since learned from that scary boarding check on Ekblad and was neither fined or suspended this season. He’d be cheered in Las Vegas.

Steve Ott

I had to throw one villain in, and Ott is the classic example. If I had to guess, Ott would be the least liked player by NHL fans. His history of complete recklessness on the ice has constantly earned him league punishment. He’s as close to dirty as players in the NHL come.

Although, rough and intimidating Ott has had a surprisingly effective NHL career. Would it be tough to root for his antics on the ice? Sure, but I know he plays a role, and let’s face it, Ott would only average 10-11 minutes of ice-time per game.

There are only a few guys in the league who could make it tough for Vegas fans to root for. Overall, most are players fans would eventually appreciate. Well, other than Ott of course. In reality, The Creator and George McPhee are not looking to bring in goons. They know it’s not good for business on several levels. Mainly, the fear of being labeled a dirty team right from the jump, a label that would be tough to shed. On top of that, the game is changing and players are taking player safety more serious. Kadri’s hit on Ovechkin could’ve been extremely devastating for the Capitals and the league. It’s designed hits like Kadri’s that will make me turn sour on any team. Hopefully, the Golden Knights will never be involved with cheap play. It’s the one thing that can stain a perfect sport.

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7 Comments

  1. PhiSig 150

    In every sport there are certain players that you hate unless they’re on your team then you learn to love them. Bill Romanowski, Bill Laimbeer, and Dennis Rodman immediately come to mind. They may be an asshole but they’re our asshole. While I take exception with a player intentionally trying to injure another player (like the hit in question) I have no problem with devastating borderline legal hits especially come playoff time.

    Hockey is a violent sport. You can’t completely legislate the danger out of the game (unless you bubble wrap players). There are inherent health risks that come with playing that are now readily available public knowledge. It is each modern players responsibility to make an informed personal decision whether or not the benefits of playing outweigh the dangers. I refuse to feel guilty for enjoying the violent aspects of football and hockey. I don’t see much if any hand wringing over boxing (punch drunk is just euphemism for CTE) so why should organized team sports be any different.

    Las Vegas is epicenter of boxing and MMA. We understand sports violence like few other cities Any hard-hitting guy we get is going to be embraced and loved by our city. So I say give us a goon (they’re not dead they’ve just evolved) maybe not a whole team of them but one will do. Ryan Reeves has been suggested. He seems like a guy that even Ken and his delicate sensibilities could grow to love.

  2. Slack

    As far as the Kadri hit (and it hurts me to have to agree with Mike Milbury) but by the rules, it is not a penalty. The hip check was not below the knees, so it wasn’t even Clipping in my opinion. I’m not a fan of either Toronto or Washington. Should hip checking be taken out of the game is up for debate, my personal take is no, but as the rule stands, I don’t think a penalty should have been called.

  3. R.J.

    Dean Lombardi once said, “Every Army needs a couple of criminals.” The Knights should be no exception. Do I approve of cheap shot artists? Of course not. But, I do love players who will play on the edge, if necessary. Bone-crunching hits, feistiness, etc. I’m also a fan of having at least 1 “enforcer” available, if things get out of hand. As the new kid on the block, Las Vegas will need a couple of those type of guys, so that other teams won’t be able to just have their way with us. This is not a league to be “soft” in. Play smart, but, play tough.

    • Phisig150

      Perfectly stated. From what I’ve heard about Gallant he seems to agree with that sentiment as well.

  4. Jason Pothier

    Guys,

    I mainly agree with all of your points. And give me a few enforcers but atleast get a combined 40 goals out of them. I mean just look at Minnesota they can never score enough in the playoffs. Over time they will have to build an offense. Best part about defense is, one top pick can change your whole blue line. LA is perfect example with Doughty. Karlsson is another. Then you add some other decent guys in time and you have both groups ready for deep runs. Adding a goaltender can be all luck, which they’ll need. Sure it’s easier said than done but offense can win Cups.

    I’d be okay with a Bieksa or Calvert but the latter has to put up more points. His 10 or 11 goals a year won’t help enough at first. Bieksa can play an enforcer and leader. He’s the perfect assistant captain.

  5. Canucklehead

    I’d say that Brad Marchand is the least liked among current players really. I agree that you want someone who adds a bit of sandpaper to the team, but always try to get hard but clean player not a cheap shot artist, there’s a difference.

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