Toronto Star columnist Joseph Hall has compiled an interesting list of hockey rodents.
Yes, rodents. They’re all the rage right now thanks to two incidents — one, Toronto GM Brian Burke’s “the rats will take this game over” rant from last week and two, noted Boston Bruins rat Brad Marchand getting suspended five games for low-bridging Vancouver’s Sami Salo.
Bottom line: It’s a rat’s world out there. Everybody else is just living in it, trying to get by, scraping cheese off the tops of discarded pizza boxes.
In his piece, Hall identified eight top rats — or “agitators,” a label they’d probably prefer — as well as a host of honorable (dishonorable?) mentions. See what you think.
Vancouver: Alex Burrows, Maxim Lapierre
Quotable: “Burrows, an effective scorer, has been accused of performing penalty drawing dives — a signature rat stunt — while Lapierre has a trash-talking reputation and has dished out his share of questionable hits.”
Pittsburgh: Matt Cooke
Quotable: “Cooke has cleaned up his act considerably this year after Penguins management told him the routine would end his career.”
Dallas: Steve Ott
Quotable: “Unlike many in this category, Ott will throw down this gloves. But he’ll take it to the gutter.”
Tampa Bay: Steve Downie
Quotable: “His coup de grace came in 2007 as a Flyer when he launched himself off the ice to take the Senators’ Dean McAmmond into the boards.”
Chicago: Dan Carcillo, Dave Bolland
Quotable: “With his maniacal, gap-toothed grin, Dan Carcillo resembles a young Bobby Clarke, the prototype in this category. Teammate Bolland is know for both his lively stick and mouth.”
Buffalo: Patrick Kaleta
Quotable: “[He] was suspended three games in November for head butting Jakub Voracek — the third time in two years he’s been caught using that technique.”
Hall also tagged Columbus’ Derek Dorsett, Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo, New Jersey’s David Clarkson, Ottawa’s Nick Foligno, Phoenix’s Raffi Torres and Toronto’s Colby Armstrong as “Agitators All”. Even if you disagree with the classification, you have to admit there’s a large number of ratlike agitators in the league right now and, compellingly, a number of quality teams employing them.
Of the current top 10 teams in the league, Vancouver, Boston, Chicago, Ottawa and Nashville have players on this list (also: the first-place Rangers only recently parted ways with Sean Avery; fourth-place St. Louis has Scott Nichol.)
It’s interesting to see more and more teams go this route, and it begs the question: Like they once did with enforcers, will every team soon employ a full-time rat?