It is now Day 2 of the 2014 NHL Free Agent Circus and general managers all over the league are still making hasty, idiotic signings. One of the these most recent signings comes from Pittsburgh Penguins general manager, Jim Rutherford who signed Steve Downie of the Philadelphia Flyers to a one-year $1 million contract.
Downie, like most of his former club, plays with carelessness and violence. Downie, who has a career high of 208 PIMs, has been suspended and fined multiple times for his malicious hits. One of Downie’s most notable ambushes occurred when he checked Dean McAmmon of the Ottawa Senators into the boards. Since Downie delivered the hit off his skates, he received a 20 game suspension.
When a player spends too much time socking other players in the eye, it’s hard to make time to get the puck to the back of the net, which shows through Downie’s career high of 46 points. Downie only scored three goals last season and accumulated 14 assists for a total of 17 points.
In the midst of the Penguins constructing a minor rebuild, it seemed like they were on the path to signing players with a little more toughness than the team is used to possessing. For this reason, Rutherford signed forwards Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.
The Penguins need players with toughness and grit, not homicidal tendencies. If the Penguins wanted a scraper, they should have just re-signed Tanner Glass. It seems like the only purpose Glass served on the team was to start fights for our entertainment.
Even though Downie possess the quality to post higher points than Glass, he hasn’t performed much better than him these past four seasons. Rick Tocchet, assistant coach of the Penguins has worked with Downie before and hopes to bring out the best player in him possible. It would be nice to see Tocchet bring out the better qualities in Downie, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Downie is still going run rampant on the ice and eventually cause a lot of problems.
Rutherford has made some smart moves during free agency, but this is his worst one yet. Hats off to you, Rutherford for virtually replacing Glass with a more chaotic version of himself.