The expression, “taking the bull by the horns” is one that young Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Simon Despres is living by right now. With the recent slew of injuries to the Pens’ blue line, the team was forced to call up the young defenseman to play some critical minutes for the Penguins.
Despres was the 30th pick overall in the 2009 NHL Draft. The Penguins selected him because he was a player with good size, and had the talent to be able to move the puck from the defensive position.
Since Despres was drafted, things have not exactly gone as planned; he has spent most of his time with the Penguins’ organization playing for their AHL affiliate. He has had some great moments there and has been called up in the past, however, a lack of solid, consistent defensive play has caused the current coaching staff to lose faith in the 22-year-old defenseman from Quebec.
With the recent injuries to Penguins’ defensemen like Rob Scuderi and Paul Martin, Despres is getting his third, and more than likely, final chance to prove to the Penguins that he was the right player to draft in 2009. This time around, however, things just seem to be very different for Despres; he looks to have focused more on his defensive skill and just seems to have better positioning on his man since his most recent call up.
Going into the Penguins’ game Tuesday night against the New York Islanders, Despres has played three games thus far and is a plus two; he also has six hits and seven blocked shots. Despres is showing the Pens’ coaches that he can play at this level, and is trying to make it very difficult for the team to send him back to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
What will happen to Despres while he is up with them team? No one really knows. The one thing everyone does know, including Despres, is that this is his best, and probably last, chance to show the organization that he is committed to playing the way the Penguins want him to play and that he will be an important piece of the puzzle moving forward.
Hopefully Despres can hold onto that bull, for his own sake!