Craig Berube was an enforcer in the National Hockey League. He understands better than most what he brought to the ice each night throughout his 17 year NHL career, and he also understands the pressures and hardships of life as an enforcer in hockey. He finished his career with 3,149 penalty minutes in 1,054 games, or almost three PIM per game.
He's not soft. He's not wimpy. He's not trying to take fighting or hitting or physicality or toughness out of hockey.
But even he -- now an NHL coach in charge of whether or not his team puts an enforcer on the ice each night -- realizes that players like him are basically irrelevant in today's game.
Berube pretty adamant that Giroux and Voracek getting pounded does not reignite enforcer debate. "Those days are over, boys." Thank god.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 23, 2014
Berube said he was ticked at Byfuglien for high elbow on Giroux. Says team doesn't need enforcer but needs to stay physical. #Flyers— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) December 23, 2014
Enforcers do not protect star players. If you want to protect a guy like Claude Giroux or Jakub Voracek, you can have toughness throughout your lineup. Guys like Wayne Simmonds come to mind. You can be a scary team to play against without having a goon on the roster. Or, you can simply put together a team so skilled that the other team will be afraid to waste a roster spot on an enforcer when they play against you.
Craig Berube -- 7th in the NHL all-time in total penalty minutes -- seems to agree with that.