Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The truculence era is officially over

It's enough to make Don Cherry cry.  When the Toronto Maple Leafs put Colton Orr on waivers it signalled the end of the NHL tough guy whose roll was exclusively to fight.  Despite a steady stream of injuries Orr only got into 5 games this season.  The other Leafs enforcer, Jay Rosehill, has only played in 15 games.

The significance of this move is quite striking.  Brian Burke is an old school GM who arrived in Toronto just three years ago promising proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence. That's how Burke teams play.  He went our the following summer and signed Orr as a free agent for four years.  It's not from lack of interest that put Orr on the waiver wire, he is more than willing to fight if given the chance.  When injuries shortened Orr's season last year he wasn't the least bit missed.  This season he was the forgotten man.  His set of skills are virtually obsolete.

Fights have not disappeared from NHL games.  This season there are .42 fights per game which is done from .6 fights per game in the 2008-09 season.  However, as the game has opened up and skating speed becomes a priority, fighters need to be able to skate too. That's just not Orr's strength so his days in the NHL are likely over. 

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