Monday, June 13, 2011
On the Value of a Pest
The pest is the player that hockey fans hate on opposing teams, but tend to love when they skate in the home jersey. There's absolutely nothing more frustrating than seeing an opposing player run around the rink, play chippy, start scrums at the whistle, and skate away from them with their gloves on their hands and an aggravating grin on their face. For the past few years Oilers management has been talking about making this team "harder to play against" and adding a player cut from this mold would be a way to get there. The ability of a pest to agitate an opposing team's top players to get them off their game and goad them into taking penalties has been seen time and time again. Just think back to Round 1 and how the Blackhawks fared against the Canucks with and without Dave Bolland in the lineup.
The Oilers currently have one player that could arguably fill the role of the pest in Theo Peckham. Peckham is a player that loves to mix it up and yap at the opposition. However the man they call Teddy Peckman rarely backs down from a challenge and doesn't quite infuriate the opposition in the same manner. Also his style of play while agitating, usually ends up in more penalties taken than drawn, as evidenced by his 3rd most PIMs in the league this past season. I have no problems with the way Peckham plays the game and the toughness he brings to the lineup, but I wouldn't go as far as calling him a "rat".
However it should be noted that there is a difference between a pest and a villain. That there is a difference between a Dave Bolland and a Matt Cooke, or a Corey Perry and a Sean Avery. The most effective pest is one that can drive the opposition crazy without resorting to diving and taking cheap shots, and can still play the game well. One that can take away the focus of the opposition without themselves becoming the focus of the game. There are different breeds of pests in the NHL and it is a thin line dividing them. Finding one of the right character is certainly not an easy task, but one that Steve Tambellini should consider as they continue to build this franchise into a winner.
UPDATE Jun 15: With the exception of Tim Thomas, Brad Marchand was the difference in the Stanley Cup Final for the Boston Bruins
Follow me on twitter @sportsguy83