When the Carolina Hurricanes traded Anthony Stewart to the Los Angeles Kings for Kevin Westgarth after the lockout ended, it was a deal that went largely unnoticed. In a loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, Westgarth showed exactly why the Hurricanes picked him up. With the Panthers streaking to a comfortable lead, rookie Eric Selleck came off the bench and immediately engaged Westgarth. Despite being at the end of his shift, Westgarth stood tall, and landed some convincing blows. Selleck earned a two-game suspension for his actions, while Westgarth showed that he’s still a pretty tough customer.
It was Westgarth’s third fight of the season, and he has played in 18 games. Valued for his toughness and leadership, he is not known for his offensive skills and has not registered a point. It is crucial for the Hurricanes to have a player like Westgarth around to protect Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin and others. Injuries continue to threaten the Hurricanes’ chances of reaching the postseason.
In three NHL seasons Westgarth has one goal and four points, and had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup after appearing in 25 regular-season games for the Kings. The Hurricanes have lost five straight games and lost the division lead to the Winnipeg Jets. They will now face those Jets in two of their next three games, which are all sure to be spirited affairs. With the potential for things to get a little chippy, look for Westgarth to make sure nothing happens to the remaining healthy Hurricanes.