Photos courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved. I’m a big fan of math but have always listened to the words of men who played the game. The hockey players I’ve talked to over the years value the job of enforcer or policeman highly; it sets a tone and sends a message. Hockey has no “brush back” pitch but the messages are sent all the same. Colten Teubert’s reaction to Justin Schultz’s treatment by Houston the other night is one of the main reasons they got him. When he can play at pace in the NHL, there’s little doubt the Oilers will call him up.
I’m not a fan of fighting in hockey–not at this point. There’s too much evidence now showing these men are doing long term damage to each other and the idea of me enjoying a sport that shortens someone’s life span does not appeal to me. That said, the NHL sees fit to allow the practice, and the players themselves value the role.
Colten Teubert’s show on Friday night is a good arrow. A very good arrow for his future.
Lots of talk about Teemu Hartikainen being a “power forward” now, and this article even has Teemu himself talking about his style of play.
- Hartikainen: “I don’t have to be a 100-point player. Of course, I have to score goals. I’m on the power play. But that’s not the biggest thing. It’s to stand in front (of the net) and try and get the goalie’s eyes off the puck, drive to the net, hit hard.”
I think that’s what we’ve seen from the beginning–certainly his draft day information reflects those words–and in my opinion we’ve seen Hartikainen as being a possible solution to an ongoing problem from the start. In the draft summary that year, I wrote the following:
- This is the type of player who can get somewhere from this point in the draft. Good size and strength combination, he has feet of clay but some pluck and desire. Finns seem to be genetically predisposed to playing well in the North American style and based on his resume this fellow would seem like a worthy candidate.
The article I linked to above implies the player himself wasn’t sure of what he was supposed to do:
- Hartikainen: “I’ve been playing that way all my life. But when I came over here, I didn’t know how I should play. Do I need to score a lot of points and be a really good player in the stats? Now I know.”
If we made a list of prospects over the years who got lost along the way because of a misunderstanding in role it would be endless. I remember Paul Coffey tell an ITV audience as a rookie that he now understood his role was to be a defensive defenseman (!!!!) and last night’s HNIC broadcast of the March 29, 1980 Oilers-Leafs game showed several youngsters finding their way. Lowe was chasing the puck on the first goal, Messier roared down the wing but nothing really happened, Dave Hunter was on the wrong side of the puck a lot.
I think Hartikainen’s early season OKC success (he’s the leading scorer among forwards) has a lot to do with the guys he’s playing with, but if there was a disconnect in there and he feels more comfortable now that’s all good news for Oiler fans. For me, the only issue has been foot speed and he’s improved that since arriving in North America. Good arrows for Teemu too.
YEAR OVER YEAR, BY DISCIPLINE
- Hartikainen 11-12 6, 3-2-5 E
- Evens 6, 2-1-3
- On powerplay 6, 1-1-2
- Hartikainen 12-13 6, 2-5-7 E
- Evens 6, 1-4-5
- On powerplay 6, 1-1-2
Six games into the season, I think Hartikainen looks like the same player as last year–albeit one playing in better company. I believe he’s ready for his 650 NHL at-bats.