The role of the NHL enforcer is a dark, albeit successful, one in which physical health is often sacrificed for a gladiator type glory. But in today’s NHL, with on-ice justice often being the main point of discussion alongside concussions, the role of enforcer has been diminished with the bruisers of the fourth line being forced to evolve or disappear.
In comes Brandon Bollig of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks’ puck-possession style of offense doesn’t necessarily need a true enforcer, but a physical forward is a necessity. After a 2010-11 season in which the Blackhawks were too much of a finesse team to move on in the playoffs, Bollig became a fixture on the team.
In 2013, Bollig is living the dream of every hockey player who believed he could only make it to the NHL on fighting. No longer the last man on the bench, Bollig has perfected the role of enforcer going forward. Bollig has only dropped the gloves twice this season while ranking second on the team in hits with 64. That number should only increase going forward as Bollig is averaging a career best 9:48 ice time.
Yesterday against the Phoenix Coyotes, Bollig faced off against one of the traditional enforcers, Paul Bissonnette. Bissonnette only sees the ice to mix things up, and one of his three shifts last night was purely an attempt to fight Bollig.
For comparison’s sake, Bissonnette has only seen more than five minutes of ice once in his last five games and has no goals to go along with four assists.
When Bollig said he was looking to make himself a more complete player it was met with skepticism considering he had no points in his two year career. However, the change of role has been good to Bollig as he makes a name for himself on a potent offense.
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