NHL 2011: Ultimate Tough Guy Team

Todd WhittomContributor IAugust 19, 2010

NHL 2011: Ultimate Tough Guy Team

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    The NHL has been trying to crack down on both fighting and tough guys in general the last few years.  I personally have always found that fighting adds a little bit of excitement to the game.  Imagine if one day the NHL decides to totally "outlaw" fighting?  If that ever happens, I think I would give Vince McMahon a call and tell him to create an XHL. Here's a list of guys playing in the NHL this year that I would definitely try to recruit!

The Puck Stops Here or I'll Take You Out

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    Goalies are usually the last players on a team that you want getting involved in a fight.  Get too close to them and you're asking for trouble.  There are goalies, however, that can handle themselves when it starts getting hot in the kitchen.  Past goalies who would fit this bill include Billy Smith, Ron Hextall, Olaf Kolzig, and Mike Vernon. 

    Two guys that I would have to recruit would be Chris Osgood and Ray Emery

    On April 1, 1998, during a Colorado/Detroit brawl, Osgood didn't back down from Patrick Roy's challenge.  Even though Osgood got beaten up badly, he managed to keep on swinging and landed a few good punches of his own.  Every team has to have an experienced goalie to mentor and Osgood fits that role nicely.

    Emery's classic fight with Martin Biron had Senators fans buzzing for weeks.  I followed Emery while he was playing junior hockey for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and he was a constant target of jeers whenever he would play in opposing rinks.  I think the reason for that was he was so easily rattled by fans and, on one occasion in Kitchener, he actually invited a fan behind his net to fight him.  While in the AHL, he also danced with Josh Gratton during a Phantoms versus Senators game.

Andy Sutton and Matt Carkner: Tough Defensive Duo

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    Defensemen over the years have always been in the shadow of the superstars up front who score all the goals.  Guys like Mark Tinordi and Marty McSorley, who took over the role of Wayne Gretzky's bodyguard from Dave Semenko, were always present and ready when a fight broke out.

    Tough guys Andy Sutton and Matt Carkner would be my "blueline" of choice.

    Most famous for his dirty hit on Jordan Leopold, Sutton is probably more of an instigator than a fighter. When called upon though, he's not afraid to drop the gloves. Besides, if there isn't a reason to fight, a fight usually never happens. Over his career his fight card resume includes tilts with Gary Roberts, Gino Odjick, and Wade Belak.

    Ottawa Senator Carkner delivers bone-breaking hits and likes to mix it up when called upon.  He's fought the likes of Colton Orr, Steve Downie, and Donald Brashear on October 3rd, 2009.

    Rounding out the defense would be Dion Phaneuf, Zdeno Chara, Sheldon Brookbank, and Brent Seabrook.

Forwards "Fighting" for a Spot

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    Is there any point in using your hands to score a goal when using them to scrap it out is more exciting?  Tie Domi used everything but his stick to score during his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, so I guess what's good for the goon is good for the gander!

    Who needs Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, and Esa Tikkanen when you can have Zenon Konopka, Colton Orr, and Dan Carcillo.

    Konopka accumulated a league-leading 265 penalty minutes in his first full term in the NHL. The "Shift Disturber" proved to be a tough customer to handle in his bouts with Eric Boulton, Aaron Voros, and Chris Phillips.

    Orr and  Carcillo have never fought each other, but came close on March 7, 2010 after Orr hit, but Carcillo wouldn't hit him. Did he refrain from dropping the gloves out of respect, fear, or a combination of both?  Could make for some possible chemistry if you ask me.

    If you like my first line, how would you feel about these combinations:

    Brandon Prust, Rick Rypien, Steve Downie

    Ian Laperriere, Chris Neil, Cam Janssen

    Sean Avery, Scott Hartnell, Zack Stortini

    Jody Shelley, Chris Thorburn, David Clarkson

    I realize in order to make these lines work I'd need to move some guys into positions that they may not be familiar with, but who cares about positioning when it's an all-out war on the ice? 

Every Goon Squad Needs a Leader or Two

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    I think with the lineup that I've assembled here that Don Cherry would be more than willing to come out of the broadcast booth and coach.  If I couldn't steal him from Coaches Corner, my next choice would be Dale Hunter.

    I'm pretty sure though that we'd be seeing the best dressed man in the NHL guiding my team to its first XHL Championship.