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NHL.com article helps shed light on player roles

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01-20-2012, 12:51 PM
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NHL.com article helps shed light on player roles


Although the article is mostly about Kovalchuk, near the end, Button and Hedberg have some interesting comments.

"They may have been the knocks, but you have to keep in mind that in Atlanta he was asked to be the guy," Button said. "He was asked to score goals, help the team win, fill the building. That's what he had to do.

"I remember Scotty Bowman talking about Steve Yzerman in the same light," Button continued. "Scotty said, 'They didn't ask Steve Yzerman to check or play defense. He was a prolific offensive player and he was doing exactly what they asked him to do.' So, you can't criticize players when they're doing what they're asked to do. You have to accept that.
Hedberg said emphatically that any opinion of Kovalchuk being lazy before he was valued for his defensive play is way off base. He added that the only reason we're talking about Kovalchuk being a complete two-way threat now is because the Devils have other guys (Parise, Elias, Henrique, Petr Sykora and David Clarkson) that have lifted some of the scoring burden off his shoulders.

"Sometimes these guys get the reputation that they don't care. He has always been the hardest-working guy in practices and in games," Hedberg said of Kovalchuk. "He played big minutes in Atlanta and he was there to score goals. He needed help, support with more defensive guys with him so he could save his energy for offense. I hope people realize he is a complete player. He's certainly showing that."
Moral of the story: Just because a player doesn't play defense, doesn't mean he can't play defense

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01-20-2012, 12:57 PM
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Another good example is Phil Kessel, who may actually have had some attitude and work-ethic issues, but who was certainly not the terrible defensive player he was made out to be.

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01-20-2012, 01:28 PM
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Agree 100%.
Tim 'Juke' Jackman on the Flames is a great example. He has great hands and deking ability, but since he is a big guy he is asked to fight instead of putting up 50+ pts in a first or second line scoring role.

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01-20-2012, 02:46 PM
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01-20-2012, 02:54 PM
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Agreed. In fact, a lot of the PP specialists and offensive players are actually pretty great at defense, but they are forced to eat up offensive minutes and produce offensively because their team has limited options in that area.

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