“Any time you can lace up the skates and you know it’s going to be that type of game, chippy, hard-nosed, guys talking trash, I love it. It gets everybody fired up. Everybody in the stands and on the bench gets fired up when they see that old-school hockey, tempers, fists flying, goals being scored. To me, that’s hockey.” – Steve MacIntyre quote from last night’s post-game.
Big Mac is a guy that the Oilers players love to have on their side. The Edmonton Sun had a quote from Liam Reddox in today’s paper: “He’s a sheriff out there,” said Liam Reddox. “He takes care of us all. Even if he’s not out there he’s yelling from the bench, letting guys know that there’s going to be some retribution. It’s definitely calming to have him around.”
Big Mac also re-arranged Ivanans’ face last night… although to Ivanans’ credit, he landed some good shots on MacIntyre’s mug as well and left him with a couple of noticeable bruises.
But is that enough to deter a guy like Robyn Regehr from hitting one of our players? Possibly not, as quite some time after the fight (in the middle of the third period), he wallpapered Paajarvi, who tried to cut around him and behind the net. Is there a deterrent for that though? I’m not so sure.
I’ll be honest… if Regehr were an Oiler, I would be wearing his jersey with pride (banned from Oilogosphere for life with that comment) because I love how he plays hard and isn’t afraid to hit anyone, no matter what nuclear warhead is sitting on the other team’s bench. Would he continue to do so if he had to face the music with MacIntyre on his own? I’ll tell you, he definitely won’t stop doing it if it’s Ivanans fighting the battle. I’m not even sure that Regehr would stop if MacIntyre went after him. But really, there is no question that guys like Regehr will always continue to bang our stars so long as it’s not them facing the music.
That said, Regehr’s hit on Paajarvi was clean, and good. This is a big difference from the hit we saw him make on Ales Hemsky in 2007, when they both raced after a dump in. So there could be an argument to say that having MacIntyre in the lineup prevents Regehr from laying those dirty hits.
For me, I suspect MacIntyre is going to have to do two things to be effective: a) not be afraid to step down 1, 2 or 3 weight classes and annihilate any player who gets a bit overly aggressive with our stars, much like he did when he speed-bagged now-teammate Jim Vandermeer in a pre-season game in ’08 for beating up non-fighter Marc Pouliot in an earlier shift. b) he’s going to have to get ugly, himself, like his huge hit on Dustin Boyd, or perhaps like his end of the game retaliatory spear on Ian White, who speared Sam Gagner in front of the Flames net in the 3rd period last night. I actually didn’t know what that was for until reviewing the tape, but it all makes sense now. And let me tell you, being up close at the game, I got to see MacIntyre throwing out all sorts of challenges to everyone on the ice, and showing that lunatic-like look he gets when he’s angered (something you couldn’t quite see from the camera angles on the Sportsnet One feed). That’s what we need. Maybe it sends a message for Sunday’s game and every Battle of Alberta after it.
I will say that we do have a guy on our roster in the form of J.F. Jacques who will initiate contact with anyone on the ice, no matter who they are, and whether they see it coming or not. Add to that, he’ll back it up by throwing hands. Of course the big issue with him (other than the Oilers trying to turn him into something he’s not – a power forward) is that he’s been injured a lot and hampered with back problems. He had surgery in the off-season, but the fact that he’s already missed time this pre-season due to his back might be a bit worrisome.
So this is where Big Mac comes in. Take a page from Jacques’ book (and quite frankly, his own book) and hit everything he possibly can. He’s a big guy, so that will likely mean that he’ll need to work on his foot speed as much as possible, in order for that to work. But he should be looking to finish every single check he can if he wants minutes in the lineup, and he’s going to need to work over the most unlikely of opponents if they hit our players dangerously.