Last summer, the Chicago Blackhawks signed several players to free agent contracts in the hopes of adding some veteran leadership and sandpaper to their lineup. The hope was that the moves would put them over the top as a Stanley Cup contender. That didn’t really happen.
A couple of those moves worked, others didn’t. But none of the players signed to deals in the last off-season filled their roles to perfection more than Jamal Mayers did, even if it was a small one within the lineup.
The veteran forward was brought in to achieve a very short list of goals. He was expected to come in and be a veteran guy in the locker room, be physical, and kill penalties. He did all of those as well as you could have asked from anyone, in the limited ice time that he did see as a fourth liner.
Mayers was a versatile guy, playing both center and on the wing, actually performing very well in the faceoff circle. He dropped the gloves when necessary too, proving an effective enforcer while contributing in other areas.
Somehow, Mayers worked himself into the Joel Quenneville doghouse, which seems to be a popular hangout these days, during the postseason, but he returns on a one-year deal signed earlier this summer.
His role with the Hawks, however, is a little unclear. Given the return of Dan Carcillo to the lineup, as well as the emergence of Andrew Shaw, there were questions about why the Blackhawks chose to bring back Mayers. There are plenty of bodies up on the forward lines, so his presence is puzzling.
I expect Mayers to be in and out of the lineup some. He won’t appear in 81 games like he did last season, but he’s still a valuable guy to have around. I like his leadership and presence that he adds to the locker room, and he’s very valuable in the few areas he is expected to perform in.
Jamal Mayers is something of a forgotten man on this roster, but an important one nonetheless.