Ever since Steve Yzerman said that former Lightning forward Zenon Konopka "wasn't apart of the Lightnings plans" there has been a lot of talk lately about the Lightning needing to sign a free agent forward who plays a "tough guy" role. Arron Asham's name has been thrown around a little bit mostly because he fits the role but also has an offensive upside. Other names have been named but that's not my point.
My point is that I'd rather see the team we have play their skill game, but learn to stick up for themselves a little more as a whole. I know what you're going to say. Certain people(ex: Marty St.Louis) aren't meant to be out there throwing fists. And it raises the risk for injury with your star players. And the other teams in the league have got to know that they can't bully the Lightning around.
During last season there were many complaints from the great "Bobby the Chief Taylor" that the defense was not physical enough. From not clearing the front of their net to not standing up the opposing offenders at the blue line. Learning team toughness was an attempt of ex coach Rick Tocchet but it only stuck with a certain few people. Other times the Lightning forwards appear to try to be "too fancy with the puck" and make one too many passes. If they all had a tougher side to their game being "too fancy" wouldn't be an issue.
Steve Yzerman comes from a long tenure with Detroit. Now Detroit is not known for being a bunch of tough guys. Last season Detroit had the least amount of fighting majors in the league with 19 and they usually are around this figure on a year to year basis. But the Redwings success of the past 10-15 years suggests they know what they're doing. The Washington Capitals had 20 fights last season and they won the presidents trophy. Tampa bay had 74 fighting majors and finished 26th. This isn't a direct reason of course but there has got to be something behind having an all skill roster and not being put in the box for a 5 minute breather.
So if there isn't anyone playing that "tough guy" role taking on all the fights and retaliating to all the problems of his teammates then the teammates themselves would have no choice than to stick up for one another because if its not set in stone who is going to do it then somebody has got to do it. In other words it would get kind of personal. This would obviously create more frustration towards the other team. With discipline and right direction would create that drive, and passion that sometimes gets lost in an 82 game schedule.
Remember Steven Stamkos's first NHL fight from his rookie season when he fought Nikolai Zherdev. The comments made by New York's MSG t.v. broadcasters after were that Stamkos was sending a message that he doesn't want to be pushed around. This happened Nov 26, 2008 about 20 or so games into his rookie season right about the time after Barry Melrose was fired and had said that Stamkos was too small for the NHL. And there once was a time where team captain Vinny Lecavalier was a every now and again fighter and we remember that game 6 fight between him and Iginla in 2004.
Of course there is entertainment in having a fight or two each game but the more entertaining thing is seeing the team win and I believe that if the players have the heart to stand up for themselves and one another then they should be better off and more motivated to do the more important thing and that is to win.
This post was written by a member of the Raw Charge community and doesn't necessarily express the views or opinions of Raw Charge staff.