Like it or not, in the course of an 82-game season, you need a Colton Orr.
— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) June 13, 2013
Let’s assume for a minute that Lance Hornby’s assertion is correct, and that fighting leads to wins (but it isn’t true).
Why would a team need to re-up an enforcer to a two-year deal, even if fighting mattered (which it doesn’t).
Let’s take a look at a few transactions that happened this season, and keep that in mind when you ponder why the Toronto Maple Leafs just gave Colton Orr a two-year contract, especially when you consider that on Orr’s last contract, he was sent down to the minors in his third year.
- On January 21st, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired Jean François Jacques (166 GP, 197 PIM) from the Florida Panthers for “Future Considerations”
- On January 31st, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Frazer McLaren (40 GP, 85 PIM) off of waivers from the San Jose Sharks.
- On February 28th, the Washington Capitals acquired Aaron Volpatti (54 GP, 81 PIM) off of waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.
- The very next day, the Vancouver Canucks acquired Tom Sestito (34 GP, 159 PIM) off of waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.
- On January 13th, Steve MacIntyre (90 GP, 163 PIM) was waived by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nobody claimed him.
- On February 11, Darcy Hordichuk (542 GP, 1140 PIM) was waived by the Edmonton Oilers. Nobody claimed him.
There’s no long updated list of players on waivers this season that I can remember, but generally, enforcers are a dime-a-dozen players you can find in the bargain bin. The NHL leader in fights this season, B.J. Crombeen, was originally acquired from St. Louis for a 5th round pick.
George Parros, one of the fiercest enforcers on Carlyle’s old Anaheim Ducks squads, was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche for a second round pick. The Avalanche originally claimed him off of waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.
Mark Fraser, one of the toughest Leafs this season, and one who could play a regular shift without getting killed with possession in his own end, was acquired in a minor league deal. Frazer McLaren, Colton Orr’s other winger, came from waivers as I’ve mentioned above.
Cheap or not for Orr, he’s entirely replaceable. Does he protect Nazem Kadri? Well, here is a screenshot I have of Victor Hedman punching Kadri in the face while Orr is trying to start a fight with B.J. Crombeen:
UPDATE: Pension Plan Puppeteer SkinnyPPPhish has compiled a spreadsheet of the Leafs’ record when Orr is or isn’t in the lineup.