Updated Oct 9, 2011 - 9:56 pm
Off the Ice: Time to embrace Paul Bissonette's talents
The time has come.
The Phoenix Coyotes are a West Coast hockey team who play a West Coast style -- the emphasis is on passing, fluid skating and, well, "pretty" hockey. It has moved away from the grittiness and physicality of the East Coast brand, but there are still players in the Western Conference who embrace hockey's rough past.
Paul Bissonette is one of those players.
Bissonette, better known as Biz Nasty, is the Coyotes primary enforcer and powerhouse. His job, aside from the usual business of a trying to win a hockey game, is to protect his players and bring a physical presence to the ice that disrupts other players because they are worried about where he -- and the hit -- are coming from. Yes, this can include the occasional fight.
However, head coach Dave Tippett does not grant Bissonnette the appropriate amount of ice time. While enforcers are not used as much because of their general ineptitude to goal scoring and their penchant for spending time in the penalty box, it's time for Biz Nasty to see some ice and put some hits on people.
When Daymond Langkow was dumped head first into the boards by Ryan Clowe of the San Jose Sharks late in the third period on Saturday, Bissonnette stayed on the bench, effectively sending a message that Coyotes players will be left unprotected and the team, aside from some pushing and shoving, will not protect its players. Biz should have been allowed to come in to the game and at least put a few crunching hits on some smaller players, if not have a few words with Clowe himself.
I'm not calling for Biz to become a headhunter, looking to cheap shot another player. That mentality results in injuries and unsafe conditions for all involved, not to mention that kind of hockey is reserved for the ECHL, but the Coyotes need to start letting Bissonnette protect his fellow players.
Also, bringing a more physical and intimidating game to the ice would benefit the Coyotes in a conference filled with players who shy away from hits. Biz may not score goals, but he sure could scare off a few guys looking to score one.
I don't want to see Bissonnette get hurt and players like Kyle Chipchura or even Ryan Hollweg could be asked to step in if he needs a night or two off, but Tip needs to embrace that a physical game is an aspect of hockey that the Coyotes need to embrace.
Along with a guy named Biz Nasty.
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