Heading into next season the Florida Panthers appear to have everything locked down position wise on the ice. GM Dale Tallon made sure to sign all the key pieces he needs next year to put a winning team on the ice, signing everything from their new top line forwards to the new goaltenders. But, one thing which stands out that the team is still lacking is their toughness.
To every good and successful team there is always a scrapper or a big guy skating around one the ice. A big hit or a great fight is always an excellent way to turn the game if things aren’t going you way. If you don’t believe me, the Pittsburgh Penguins had 71 fights as a club last season, that number is tied with the Stanley Cup champions Boston Bruins. Florida ranked 26th on the list with only 24 fights, 10 of which were caused by Darcy Hordichuk, who is now a part of the Edmonton Oilers organization.
Again, when you look at Penalty minutes, the Pittsburgh Penguins finished second on the list with 1388 penalty minutes. Boston placed 8th on the list with a totally of 1115 penalty minutes. Florida, finished dead last as the least penalized team last season as they were only tagged with 716 penalty minutes.
As I mentioned earlier with Hordichuk now a part of the Oilers, the Panthers are once again lacking physicality from their lineup, physicality which is capable of totally changing the outlook of the team altogether.
Heading into the season one of the most penalized players we have on our team is winger Matt Bradley, and honestly he isn’t exactly a guy which will have teams shaking in their boots when it comes to getting in altercations.
Growing up as a Leaf fan, there was nobody I loved to see on the ice more than Tie Domi. Whenever he was on the ice, you only had to wait moments as you knew he was on there to lay a hit, or to let the blows fly. He was a tough guy which stuck up for his team, and wasn’t afraid to chirp somebody or speak his mind. He wasn’t the greatest offensively, but he played his role fantastically and never backed down from anyone. Whenever Ottawa was in town, Leaf fans could always witness the luxury of having Senators’ Chris Neil fight Domi to set tempers flying.
So, as I see it, all Tallon has left to do is add a big player who can add some color and flare into our lineup. A guy who can alter the outlook on the team, as he will force players like Mike Richards to think twice about laying a outright cowardly hit to the head of the likes of David Booth anymore.