Energy Players: Why We Need Them

pitlick hit

How did you feel the last time you saw one of the guys on your team just line up a player and smoke him? How about if that hit lead to a turnover and a goal? Or how did you feel watching Canada’s world junior teams in the late 90s go out and destroy their opponents through huge body checks and intense forechecking pressure? I know how I felt… Effin’ great!

I was watching the Habs/Oilers game the other night and it was the 2nd period and the game just wasn’t going anywhere. I commented upon Twitter that I’d wished the Oilers had some energy players to go out and mix it up a bit. Well this tweet was soon replied upon by some of my followers, some of which have unfollowed me due to my stance.

Now in my unfollower’s defence, perhaps he thought I meant that I wanted someone to go out there and fight, which was not my meaning and to @woodguy55’s fault, he never bothered to clarify. I suspect he/she was just looking for an excuse to unfollow. Which is fine. My brand of tea isn’t to everyone’s liking.

If you’d like more clarification on what @woodguy55’s definition of an energy player is, you can read it here at his blog. It’s an excellent article! But I reckon we’ve got different definitions of what an “energy” player is to say the least.

What I meant was I wanted to see a few guys go out there and muck it up a bit, throw some hits, and try to create some energy in the crowd and the team. I thought that might spur the team onto a goal. Fighting at that point in the game would’ve accomplished nothing and it does beg the question, when did an energy player’s definition go from hard working mucker/grinder to goon?

@crazycoach21 was right. A goal did create energy which spurned an amazing three-goal comeback for the Oilers. Kudos to him as he was right.

Now I’d like to comment on the tweet preceding that of McCrazyCoach’s. This Oilers fan is of the opinion that role players or “energy” players are shitty. Wonder if he’d say that to their face? I disagree with that sentiment and I love role players. They do the jobs that skilled players won’t, don’t, or can’t do because if they did do them their careers would be over before they knew it. Of course the numbers can’t support that theory but the day that Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, and Tyler Seguin start leading the league in blocked shots and hits is the day they’re no longer NHL superstars. Thus the reason you cannot have a team without energy players.

People, like myself, respect what bottom 6ers sacrifice for their teams. Every hockey player worth their salt will say that these players are the glue that holds the team together and I’d say the likes of Dave Hunter, Lee Fogolin and Dave Lumley were plenty important to the Oilers Stanley Cup winning teams of the early 80s; as important as say the Bruins 4th line of Campbell, Paille, and Thornton to their Stanley Cup or Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw to the Blackhawks’ Cup in 2012/13.

The point is energy players bring an element to the rink that skilled players cannot unless their name is Doug Gilmour, Peter Forsberg, Eric Lindros, Wendel Clark, or Alexander Ovechkin. There are plenty more but you get the gist. Some players are paid to score, some are paid to hit or block or do whatever else it takes. Rob Klinkhammer racked up nearly 30 hits in that time before his injury but I don’t see anybody complaining about that. Why? Because he was doing an effective job in a lineup spot he’s got no right to be in. Matt Hendricks had 10 hits and 10 blocks and was an ace on the faceoff dot. But to hell with them because their shitty hockey players. Well Maybe it’s to hell with you if that’s your opinion.

Hockey is a physical game, if you don’t like it go watch figure skating.

I think the team is really missing the element that Rob Klinkhammer and Matt Hendricks bring to the table. When I seen that Tyler Pitlick was getting recalled I thought that he was coming up to fill-in for the injured veterans… Not the case but the real replacement did okay.

Today will be the second installment of the Battle of Alberta! I’m only hoping it goes as well as the first one did. Historically role players have played an important… role… in these games. So I’m looking forward to watching but I think we all know who will be running the show… Connor McDavid!

Anyways, that’s all I wanted to say. I just had to get that off my chest. What’s your definition of the energy player? Do you think they’re required or are surplus and will soon go the way of the goon? Let me know in the comments below!


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Beer League Hero Written by:

I'm the Beer League Hero! I am from Camrose, Alberta but I make my home in Taipei City, Taiwan. I've been through the ups and downs and the highs and the Lowes, the Bonsignores and the McDavids, the Sathers and the Eakins but I'll never leave my Oilers, no matter what! They're with me until the end and then some. GO OILERS GO!

  • Dylan

    Great higher energy photo at beginning!

  • StonedToDeath61

    Well stated, I could not agree more and when the play-offs begin, “the energy player” is even more effective and needed. As long as our beloved game continues to allow checking and players to battle for position in front, players with toughness and grit are much needed. I am a Sens fan and all the stats guys in the world in this city would drool over 6 Karlssons but as I have asked them before, Who the hell goes in to the corner and gets the puck back or have you ever seen EK try to work the PK, pretty ugly. Thanks for sticking up for the players that don’t play a pretty and slick game.

  • Russ

    I have read many articles by yourself and wood guy. I believe you are both correct to some extent. Role players have not gone the way of the dinosaur. There roles have become more defined and require more skill than previous generations of players. All players now require more skill and the players that are successful as energy players require the ability to take a hit, give a hit and play seamlessly with skilled players. Players like a Lucic, Smith-Pelly, Simmonds all use “energy” and body position to breakup/maintain the cycle and get into scoring position. Matt Hendricks is a great example of this on the oilers. Skill, size and body position are replacing the one dimensional “energy player” successful teams mix these player types throughout the lineup . “Energy lines” aren’t needed the way the they used to be and Energy players are still needed in different roles.

  • Walter Foddis

    I agree with Russ. Depth wins Stanley Cups. When the top-2 lines cancel each other out, the scoring has to come from the bottom-2. As MacT said after he was hired as Oilers GM (of all people) said, you need all your players to play a 200-foot game. In other words, energy players need to be skilled enough to push the play into the o-zone and contribute offensively. If they cannot, they are liability. Klinkhammer is a perfect example of this. He hits like no one else on the Oilers, but has hands of stone. Yet, he has great speed, solid puck-handling skills–noticeable on the cycle–, and passing ability.

    Col. Klink’s ability is seen in his relative-to-team shot attempt (SAT RelTM) metrics. Although the team’s offensive generation dips when he’s on the ice, his SAT Against RelTM is 2nd best on the team. That is, the Oilers are allowing much fewer shots when he’s on the ice.