There’s this idea that doesn’t really apply anymore, that teams that are rebuilding and full of kids need a bodyguard. That if you don’t have some hulking/drooling goober on your team, the players that will eventually comprise what you hope is your next winning team are going to be assaulted and mugged all over the ice, ruining their innocence and perception of the world and then they’ll dye their hair purple and write poetry while listening to A Place To Bury Strangers all damn day.
That’s just about the only reason we can figure Cody McLeod, who has struggle to spell “cat” his entire career, is here. Of course, these days the only players who would “run” at the Filip Chytils, Brett Howdens, and the future kids who will come up for air later this season or next are the Cody McLeods of the world. The game moves too fast for anyone who actually has a job to do to worry about making some statement on a kid’s face. Also, the league is getting younger, so really any kid in the lineup is going to be on the ice against players that are merely a couple years older than him.
The only idiots that these kids have to fear are fourth-line/third-pairing veterans who are barely hanging onto their careers by their fingernails and will do anything to get their coach to not notice they can’t move and they treat the puck like ebola. And there are just enough coaches that are impressed by putting a stick in someone’s ribs when they’re not looking, but they’re fading in numbers as well.
In fact, the NHL might even be a safer place for young players than the AHL, due to the speed the game keeps reaching at the top level. Meanwhile, the “A” is still kind of filled with dunderheads who not only could be out of the league, but soon Beer League might be their only hockey outlet. That’s a high level of desperation to do anything to continue to not have to go work in the real world. A good portion of the guys yelling at you at Johnny’s were these guys.
We can’t blame McLeod. He gets to keep earning an NHL salary, and there’s really nothing else he can do on the ice. He’s not turning into Esa Tikkanen anytime soon. Sort of a weird lesson for the kids, though.
Game #10 Preview Suite