In the 2009-2010 regular season, the Canucks were involved in 62 fights. 3 players were responsible for the majority of those fighting majors.
Rick Rypien had 16 fights, Tanner Glass had 15. The nominal enforcer, Darcy Hordichuk, was involved in 14 fights. Kevin Bieksa was involved in 5, and the rest were spread out throughout the roster fairly evenly.
So those 3 forwards, Rypien, Glass and Hordichuk, were involved in 73% (45/62) of the fights.
Lets take a look at how they did in those fights, according to the folks at hockeyfights.com
Hordichuk is supposed to be the enforcer for the team, but he actually has the worst record.
Now you could point out that as the heavyweight for the team, Hordichuk has to take on fights against other heavyweights, so his opposition is tougher than the guys fighting Rypien and Glass.
Which might be true, except when you examine the actual fights (thanks again to hockeyfights.com), you find that the guys he beats are the same sort of guys that Rypien and Glass beat.
And the ones that Hordichuk loses to or draws against?
Losses (4): McGrattan (Calgary), Boogaard (Minnesota), Parros (Anaheim) twice
Draws (3): Parros (Anaheim), Barch (Dallas), Boogaard (Minnesota)
So against the actual heavyweights, Hordichuk doesn’t fare any better than Rypien or Glass.
Lets look at some other relevant stats from last year:
Rypien is 5’11” and 190 pounds. His cap hit is 550k. He can play wing or center. albeit his faceoff percentage was only 43.1%. Played in 69 regular season games, average TOI 7:14. Played in 7 playoff games, average TOI 4:39.
Glass is 6’1” and 210 pounds. His cap hit is 625k. He is a winger who led the Canucks forwards in hits last year with 165. Played in 67 regular season games, average TOI 10:28. Played in 4 playoff games, average TOI 3:08.
Hordichuk is 6’1” and 211 pounds. His cap hit is 775k. He is a winger who was a -7 last year, the worst of any Canuck forward. Played in 56 regular season games, average TOI 6:01. Did not dress for any playoff games.
Now of these 3 forwards, Hordichuk has the highest cap hit, and contributes the least in areas other than fighting. And when it comes to fighting, he comes in tied with Glass for 2nd place behind Rypien.
The Northwest Division was pretty scrappy last year, probably because the teams hate each other.
Calgary was good for 3rd most fighting majors in the league with 74, the Canucks came in 6th with 62 fights. Colorado and Edmonton came in 7th and 8th respectively with 60 and 59. Apparently Minnesota isn’t so wild when it comes to fights, since they came in 24th overall with only 32 fights.
There is probably going to be enough rivalry and rough stuff to justify having 2 fighters on the roster, as long as they can contribute in ways other than fighting.
But there definitely isn’t room for a guy who can only fight, and isn’t even the best fighter on the team.
Rypien and Glass will return to the lineup in 2010-2011, but Hordichuk should be waived at the end of training camp, and either goes quietly to the AHL or is picked up by another team. Either way his 775k is off the salary cap.
*When I went over Hordichuk’s fighting record, I honestly wonder why Gillis didn’t keep Cowan instead. At least Cowan could score the odd goal and was good enough to dress for playoff games. Plus any player that induces women to throw bras on the ice can’t be that bad, right?