By Ruthi Dubilo
Since Monday when Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced the resident tough-guy Shawn Thornton would not be resigned, there has been talk about "who will be the enforcer?" and "where will the Bruins get one in the off season market?" The truth is, the Bruins don't need to search the market. They already have what they need on the roster.
Adam McQuaid demonstrated in the 2013-2014 season that his toughest opponent is himself. The blueliner missed the majority of the season with various injuries and for that reason people have (temporarily) forgotten what a bruiser he is. In the 30 games he played, McQuaid fought nine times.
In his NHL career, McQuaid has had 41 fights and has been victorious 61 percent of the time. While he has a long way to go to catch up to Thornton, who logged 110 fights in seven years as a Bruin, if he can stay healthy, McQuaid could take on the role of designated enforcer.
The Bruins were gifted another "tough guy" when Kevan Miller was pulled up from Providence. Miller dropped the gloves four times in 58 games and was declared the winner three times.
Like McQuaid, Miller is a blueliner that does not hesitate to take one for the team when it is necessary. But he also tends to choose his fights carefully. Perhaps he would have fought more if Thornton had been absent from the lineup, something to look forward to next season.
Up front, the Bruins have Milan Lucic. No one wants to tangle with Lucic when he is in Incredible Hulk mode. Last season Lucic had seven fights with a 3-2-1 record. While he can be seen as another hard-hitter, he will not be the primary enforcer.
One reason Lucic won't get the position is his history of going overboard when he goes from aggressive forward to "enormous [black and gold] rage monster."* Recently, there were spearing incidents involving Alexei Emelin (Montreal Canadiens) during the regular season and Danny DeKeyser (Detroit Red Wings) in the first round of the playoffs. Lucic was fined $5000 for the incident with DeKeyser.
It was also noted that Lucic took a stab at Emelin's nether regions again during the second round of the playoffs but was not punished for it.
Following the Canadien's victory over the Bruins in game seven, Dale Weise told reporters that Lucic had threatened him in the handshake line. It was a tough series and emotions run high in the playoffs but it means Lucic will be under careful observation come the start of next season.
The second reason Lucic will not take on the role is his value on the first line. During the regular season Lucic had 24 goals and 35 assists. Together, Lucic, David Krejci, and Jarome Iginla combined for 189 points. The Bruins need number 17 on the ice.
If you're still not satisfied, the Bruins have the tallest player in the league to throw into the mix. Captain Zdeno Chara is no slouch. While he is as skilled on skates as a ballerina is on her toes, Chara can throw down with the best of them. Of course, as the number one defenseman he won't be relied on as the enforcer but it's nice to know he's there to put troublemakers in their place.
But there's more... guys like Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, and Gregory Campbell are no strangers to black and blue hockey. Even Dougie Hamilton had some big hits towards the end of the season. There's a good reason the Bruins are known as "Big and Bad"
Thornton will be missed as the man who "brings the pain" but the Bruins have always had a backup plan if number 22 wasn't in the lineup. Management will likely not search for an enforcer. Either someone on the roster will transition into the position or several guys will share the honor. The Bruins are likely to strive to add a forward to the club that can really attack the net.
*Quote in reference to Marvel's "The Avengers" if you are unfamiliar with the movie.
Ruthi Dubilo can be reached via http://www.hockeyhaunt.com/