In light of all this recent talk of fighting and whether or not it has a place in this league, I started to think about our own fighter, Colton Orr.
He'll never be my favorite Ranger, but he's one of the guys I respect the most on this team. That hasn't changed, despite the ups and downs this team has taken over the years. Why do I respect him so? Two reasons really.
One, he knows what his role is. He is a fighter. He is a guy that creates energy through his fists. He's not going to win a Lady Byng. He doesn't want to.
Two, he has accepted the changes of this league and made a personal commitment to improving other aspects of his game, such as skating and puck handling. When a guy off Jaromir Jagr's credentials has said he's noticed a difference in you and worked to help you along in your own efforts, that tells me all I need to know.
While I haven't agreed that he has needed to be in the lineup in every single game - and perhaps I still don't at times - he has been a solid contributor to this team this year.
Yes, you heard me.
No, he didn't score a ton more goals for all the stick handling he's worked on. And, no, he hasn't set up Blair Betts to be the next marquee scoring center either. (Although for the record, Colton Orr's 4 assists and 5 points are both career highs for the winger.)
But at the same time, he has not held his teammates back. He plays on the only Rangers line that was not subject to change after change after change after change after change as the rest of the lines endured this season. That's a measure of compatibility and consistency. They are the Rangers most consistent line, by far. Like that line or not, they have been effective. They don't score, but they aren't expected to. Goodness knows I was on Blair Betts earlier in the season because I wanted a fourth line center that could score and help his teammates score, thinking the fourth line would get a significantly healthier amount of goals this year.
But what we all failed to predict - myself at the top of this list because I predicted the opposite - is that the team itself would not even match last year's pathetic goal totals. (I'm not looking at the stats here, but I know they were down on last year's totals, at least up until Renney's departure). But that's not really the point here.
The point is that the fourth line, our fourth line, is probably one of the better in the league, even if only that they know what their roles are, and they've filled those roles nine times out of 10 this year, I'd say.
Back to Colton Orr for a minute. Want something to turn over in your brain for a minute or two?
I cannot, for the life of me, think of the last time that Colton Orr took a penalty that was NOT a fighting major. Or, a penalty that was not in conjunction with fighting, like roughing, 10 minute misconduct, game misconduct.
When was the last time Orr took a slashing penalty? Or a hooking penalty? Or a holding penalty? Or a cross-checking penalty?
You get where I am going with this. I can't be positive that it hasn't happened. Hell, I'm sure it has. But I am just pointing out that 99.9% of Orr's penalties are of the five minute version. Where he does not put his team down a man and where, at the most, he takes himself out of the game for a 5 or 10 minute stretch.
You may argue, he doesn't get enough ice time to take more penalties.
So, hmm, that's why guys like Naslund and Gomez and Drury and Redden and Rozsival take more penalties? Because they get significantly more ice time.
Umm, sure, okay, alright.
It can't possibly be that certain guys are just more disciplined than others. Or even better at their roles on this team?
Okay, fine. If that's the case, I guess we'll agree to disagree.
Bottom line, I am in Colton's corner. I'd like him to be able to have more ice time and contribute more offensively, but I'd like every single member of the team to do that.
So, as long as Colton does not allow the timing of his fighting to put the team in jeopardy going forward, I'm perfectly happy to let him keep doing what he's doing.
For as long as the league allows him to.