The enforcer is a dying breed in the NHL, but an important one. This gritty player not only eats nails for breakfast, he spits them out at you and then proceeds to ruin your life. They protect their teammates and get under the other team’s skin. Then once they get under their skin, they bloody it. They drop the gloves as if it’s their job, because it is. They may not see eight assists a season or even two goals, but they’re expected to do the dirty work.
It may start as a hit or two, maybe a jab, maybe something is said about the opponent’s mother, but it eventually leads to a fight. The ability to follow through with the fight is unique to the enforcer. Any player, in any role, in any position can be annoying and antagonize, but it’s the enforcer who makes it his duty. This is all beneficial to the team when done right. This boil of emotion from the opponent makes them sloppy and distracted, giving the enforcer’s teammates a chance to make a play. Or, if the enforcer’s team is frustrated, he can choose to release all of that on some kid’s face.
Because of all the physicality, this isn’t a job for the faint of heart and injuries are inevitable. This is the major reason for the decline in the role. The enforcer is not as popular as it was, say, in the 70s. That doesn’t mean, however, they’re undervalued. Oh, They get paid. The enforcer can make big bucks because he can throw a solid punch, even now. In fact, Here are your 15 highest paid enforcers for the 2015-16 NHL season.
*Criteria: These players each fought at least 8 times during the 2014-15 season, as a means to only include relevant enforcers. All fight figures are taken from HockeyFights.com and all salary figures are taken from Spotrac.
15 Mark Borowiecki, Ottawa Senators - $1,100,000
14 Ryan Reaves, St. Louis Blues - $1,125,000
Ryan Reaves is a right winger from Winnipeg. Reaching 6’1” and 224 lbs, he, according to HockeyFights.com, won six of the eight fights he had in the 2014-15 season, eight out of ten for 2013-14, and four of seven in 2012-13. This beast played 81 games for the Blues this past season and tallied 12 points from six goals and six assists. He’s tough on the ice, but off the ice, he’s even stronger. He went through tragic losses of three of his close friends early on in his career and has a tattoo to commemorate them on his forearm.
13 Chris Thorburn, Winnipeg Jets - $1,200,000
12 Cody McLeod, Colorado Avalanche - $1,333,333
11 Tanner Glass, New York Rangers - $1,450,000
10 Kyle Clifford, Los Angeles Kings - $1,600,000
9 Jared Boll, Columbus Blue Jackets - $1,700,000
8 Steve Downie, Arizona Coyotes - $1,750,000
7 Matt Hendricks, Edmonton Oilers - $1,850,000
6 Chris Neil, Ottawa Senators - $1,900,000
5 T4. Patrick Maroon, Anaheim Ducks - $2,000,000
4 T4. Antoine Roussel - Dallas Stars - $2,000,000
3 Brandon Prust, Vancouver Canucks - $2,500,000
2 Derek Dorsett, Vancouver Canucks - $2,650,000
1 Clayton Stoner, Anaheim Ducks - $3,250,000
Mr. Clayton will be the highest paid enforcer in the league next year. He, like Borowiecki, is another defenseman, which is almost definitely the reason he gets paid as much as he does. This 30 year old fought eight times last season, won about three of them and only posted eight points. On paper, he doesn’t look like much, especially because his season ended in a -2 last year. He easily could be considered another overrated and overpaid player, but like everyone on this list, he’ll always rise to the occasion. When starting and finishing a tussle becomes necessary, he’s there and that’s what makes him, and any other enforcer, special.
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