Suddenly, those Caps-Pens games will be a bit more interesting. According to reports from Russian publications, Washington Capitals goal-machine Alex Ovechkin got into an argument at a nightclub with some dude named Gennady Ushakov. Ovechkin allegedly punched Ushakov and broke/damaged/rearranged his jaw.
Normally the reaction would range all the way from Im impressed with Ovechkins toughness/drunken brawling ability to Gennady Whoshakov? Ushakov, in addition to whatever (now completely shot) street cred he might have had in Moscow, also happens to be the agent for the Penguins Evgeni Malkin.
I will suddenly be much more interested in Caps-Pens matchupswill Malkin take a run at Ovechkin? What does two Russian hockey players fighting look like? Will Ovechkin find out the hard way that Ushakov has some friends in Brighton Beach and disappear forever during the Caps first road trip to NYC?
None of the St. Louis Blues actual hockey players would probably rank among the games most feared enforcers. Long gone are the days when opponents would have to stare down both Tony Twist and Kelly Chase if they wanted to take a cheap shot at a skill player. These days, D.J. King is probably the de facto enforcer. King has heart, but was thoroughly manhandled by MYFOs designated enforcer, Derek Boogaard, in this fight last season:
But cheer up, Blues fans. The team has made some key off-season moves that will ensure that if a fight breaks out in the luxury suites, the opposition is going to take a beating.
The Blues heretofore had a limited physical presence in the skyboxes. Special assistant to the president Al MacInnis was not a big fighter during his NHL career, although you do have to respect a man nicknamed Chopper. Team executive Bruce Affleck and GM Larry Pleau were not known for their physical prowess. John Davidson, in addition to being a former goalie, is also just a big ol teddy bear.
Thats not enough muscle to stand up to the Bobby Clarkes and various Sutters scattered about the league. So the Blues got their goon on, and signed on ex-Blue (and North Star, and Lightning, and Blackhawk, etc.) tough guy Basil McRae as a scout. Since McRae is part-owner of the OHLs London Knights, we imagine most of his scouting duties will consist of sitting in his owners box. But Basil knows how to throw em:
Basil, however, needed a wing man. The Blues went with a relative unknown, bringing on Mark Toffolo as VP of sponsorships. Toffolo was a career minor-league tough guy, who once picked up a mind-boggling 557 PIMs for the 1978-79 Saginaw Gears. Just think about that for a second. Five Hundred and Fifty Seven penalty minutes. In 78 games. (Plus 37 more PIMS in 4 playoff games.)
That boils down to roughly a cross-check and a fighting major every single game. He literally spent more time in the penalty box than on the ice. Opposing players resorted to taking out restraining orders, forbidding Toffolo from skating within 50 feet of them. (Despite all the extra room on the ice, he managed only 2 goals that season. His hands were made for just one thing, my friends.)
With Toffolo and McRae watching their backs, Larry Pleau and John Davidson are now free to persuade opposing teams in trade talks. Perhaps they could acquire an on-ice tough guy.