Radio, print and Twitter was abuzz the day after this hit by Marc Methot of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Canucks captain Henrik Sedin:
So cue the debate: are the Canucks tough enough? This debate is of course in response to the fact that the Canucks did not engage Marc Methot in a fight and were roughed up in the Stanley Cup final last June. So are the Canucks tough enough? The answer is: sort of.
The Response to Methot
The Canucks didn’t lose their minds after Henrik was hit, which I think is a good thing. Methot was challenged to fight by Kevin Bieksa and Aaron Volpatti, but declined. I didn’t think that Methot’s hit was malicious enough for the Canucks to risk taking an instigator penalty, but they did need to get in Methot’s face and give him a few shoves and maybe a face wash. That’s exactly what Alex Burrows attempted to do immediately after the hit.
Some will argue that the Canucks needed to fight Methot, instigator penalty or not, but I disagree. That kind of mentality simply doesn’t mesh with the way the Canucks are built. I would also argue that it doesn’t make their star players much safer (if at all). The Pittsburgh Penguins were second in fighting majors last year and still had their star player run at. The Canucks are emulating the Detroit Red Wings model, which I suggest is a pretty effective model. Pavel Datsyuk was on the receiving end of a big Andrew Alberts bodycheck last season and the Red Wings didn’t feel it necessary to pummel Alberts.
Do the Canucks Need an Enforcer?
The answer to this question is simple: absolutely not. Enforcers rarely have much of an effect on the game in my opinion, unless they can play a regular shift. The Bruins’ Shawn Thornton is an example of a useful enforcer, and the exception to the rule.
The Canucks don’t need fighters, rather they need team toughness. Do they have enough of this? At this moment, I don’t believe so. I don’t think that is a major problem, but it should be fixed before the playoffs begin in April. Mike Gillis would be well advised to add some muscle on his second or third line, or else the team will be vulnerable to tougher/bigger teams in a seven game series.
So for the moment, relax everybody. The Canucks are fine and their response to Marc Methot was appropriate.