Pest, sandpaper, gnat or instigator, call bruising Inuit Jordin Tootoo what you will. But when Tootoo pulls the old red and white over his head and takes the ice for the Detroit Red Wings for the first time this fall, Detroit will come to love this menace.
Tootoo is a solid checking forward who had a career-high 30 points in 77 games with Nashville this past season along with 92 penalty minutes. Expect him to find a steady role on Detroit's checking line.
Of course, this is putting things nicely. Beneath this nicety is this simple fact—in time Tootoo will become the Red Wings' version of Detroit Pistons instigator Bill Laimbeer.
Chicagoans cringe. Where is Kevin Duckworth?
Now I know since Tootoo signed on the dotted line, some Wings fans have griped that this guy was not the monster splash player fans had wanted.
And I know some fans do not consider Tootoo an upgrade over other available options.
To this I say, so what?
No. 22 is just the type of guy the Red Wings need to bring the word “grind” back to the grind line.
Red Wings fans love players like this. They love those blue-collar, Chris Chelios-like skaters who are not afraid to put their nose to the grindstone and lay some lumber on opposing hockey players.
Put another way, Detroiters love bruisers like chicks dig the long ball.
And Tootoo, at 5’9”, 200 lbs., is most certainly a bruiser.
I can hear the announcer now. ”Just over two minutes left in the second period. Detroit leading Minnesota 2-1. Parise goes into the corner, snatches the puck and OHHHHH! Parise just got TATTOOED by Tootoo!”
Red Wings fans go crazy and pound glass: "That's what you get for not signing with Detroit!"
That said, is Tootoo the second coming of Nicklas Lidstrom? Absolutely not. To say this would mark my self-imposed cue to check into the nearest psych ward.
But with Lidstrom staying with the Red Wings as a scout, per NHL.com, Tootoo will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with this hockey great.
Frankly, I could not think of a better mentor for the player with a new lease on life who—oh, by the way—just became part of a successful Original Six hockey club.
Of course, some naysayers out there will say “curb your enthusiasm, Morisette.”
To this I respectfully say, “no way!”
I say this because sometimes in hockey, like with other sports, it is those under-the-radar signings that end up helping a team excel (and save money for much larger splashes down the road).
Will Tootoo be the next Bob Probert? Probably not. What about the next Stu Grimson? Haha, I cannot help but laugh at myself for even writing this.
What about Joey Kocur? Hmmm, it is best to let Red Wings fans debate this one.
However, what is not debatable is the Wings just got tougher with Tootoo sharking the ice at the Joe.
This fact alone should excite Detroit for the upcoming NHL season.
James is normally a MLB Featured Writer for B/R. But as a Metro Detroiter it is impossible not to love writing on the Red Wings. You can follow James on Twitter.
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