Leave the kids alone: say hello to my little friend

ST. PAUL, MN - DECEMBER 31:  Jody Shelley #45 of the San Jose Sharks and Derek Boogaard #24 of the Minnesota Wild square off to fight December 31, 2008 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)

"If you even think of harming one hair on Taylor Hall’s precious head, I’m going to beat you until you look like Jeff Odgers. Then, I’m going to do a couple of your sissy buddies, too. Got it?"

With free agency upon us, high, very high, on the list of things to do for Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is to acquire a tough guy. For me, the sentiment above — along with the fistic prowess to back it up — is the mission statement for whoever fills that role.

Yes, I want somebody who can play some. Yes, I want a guy who can put his skates on the right feet and who doesn’t sit, slack-jawed, when Tom Renney draws up the forecheck on the white board.

More than that, though, I want a bully. I want a mal-adjusted jerk who’s been stealing lunch money on the playground since Grade 3 and won’t think twice about rearranging the face of anybody who doesn’t like it.

F*ck with Hall? F*ck with me. If you run at Ales Hemsky or facewash Jordan Eberle or even fart in the general direction of anybody wearing this jersey, you’ll pay. To steal from the move, Diner: "I’ll hit you so hard, I’ll kill your whole family."

If Tambellini and the Oilers are headed down the road of enlisting an enforcer to caddie for Hall and the rest of the kids in 2010-11, and I believe they are, then go all the way.

What? Using a spot on the roster for a resident tough guy is going to cost the Oilers a playoff spot? Maybe you should consider becoming a "senior advisor" with the Oilers. Or take up ringette.

Here’s a look at who Tambellini will consider…



Status: UFA (Minnesota Wild)

Tale of the Tape

  • HEIGHT: 6′ 8"
  • WEIGHT: 257
  • Shoots: Left
  • BIRTHDATE: Jun 23, 1982  (AGE 28)
  • BIRTHPLACE: Saskatoon
  • DRAFTED: MIN / 2001 NHL Entry Draft ROUND: 7th  (202nd overall)


The lumbering Boogaard is marginal, at best, as a player. He’s a jerk. He decimated the Oilers all by himself three seasons ago and there wasn’t a damn thing they could do about it. The Boogeyman is the biggest and baddest heavyweight in the NHL. In other words, what’s not to like?

Boogaard wouldn’t necessarily top my list because I think the enforcer’s role is best suited to players in their 20s, but Tambellini likely has him at the top of his list, which is all that matters. He’s probably priced himself out of Minnesota — he wants a raise on the $1.25 million he made last season. He’ll be testing the market.


Status: UFA

Tale of the Tape

  • HEIGHT: 6′ 8"
  • WEIGHT: 258
  • Shoots: Left
  • BIRTHDATE: Sep 26, 1982  (AGE 27)
  • BIRTHPLACE: St. Catharine’s, Ont.
  • DRAFTED: Undrafted. Signed as a free agent by Houston (AHL), September 26, 2006. Signed as a free agent by Minnesota, December 31, 2006.


The other member of Minnesota’s Twin Towers Act isn’t ever going to be mistaken for Scott Niedermayer when his gloves are on, but Scott could work because he’s a defenceman and Tambellini needs to land at least one more of those. He can kill two birds with one stone here.

Former Oiler Kyle Brodziak tells me Scott works hard at his game, knows his role and is liked and respected in the dressing room. He’s also an affordable option, coming off a 2009-10 salary of $550,000. The bad news is that if the Wild let Boogaard walk, and they probably will, they’ll likely re-sign Scott.


Status: UFA

Tale of the Tape

  • HEIGHT: 6′ 4"
  • WEIGHT: 240
  • Shoots: Left
  • BIRTHDATE: Jan 3, 1979  (AGE 31)
  • BIRTHPLACE: Riga, Latvia
  • DRAFTED: Undrafted. Signed as a free agent by Montreal, July 16, 2004. Signed as a free agent by Los Angeles, July 13, 2006.


During the lockout season, I had a bit of a run-in with Ivanans while covering the Edmonton Road Runners of the AHL. Visiting teams at Rexall Place had a habit of sending their guys to the writing room adjacent to the dressing room, using it as a workout room for stretching and the like.

I walked in one night and there was a player, doing sit-ups on a mat, with his gear all over the place, meaning I couldn’t set up my laptop and get to work. I said (in an unmistakeably dickish tone, "Hey, pal, you’re not supposed to be in here."

That player was Ivanans. He stood up, walked over to me, looked down with sweat dripping off the tip of his bent nose, stared me in the eyes and said, "Sorry." I wanted to say, "Damn right you’re sorry," but I was too busy worrying if anybody would notice I’d sh*t myself.

Ivanans is a top-5 heavyweight in the NHL and he made $600,000 last season. "And get the hell out of my writing room…"


Status: RFA

Tale of the Tape

  • HEIGHT: 6′ 3"
  • WEIGHT: 230
  • Shoots: Left
  • BIRTHDATE: Jun 27, 1984  (AGE 26)
  • BIRTHPLACE: Meadow Lake, SK.
  • DRAFTED: STL / 2002 NHL Entry Draft ROUND: 6th  (190th overall)


King is the youngest and maybe most accomplished player on this list and I’m wondering if Tambellini might be talking to John Davidson about this RFA while he’s pitching a Sheldon Souray swap for Eric Brewer.

What makes me nervous about King is he’s been injury prone the past couple of seasons. On the positive side, he can be had relatively cheap as he’s coming off a season in which he made $550,000. On the flip side, that might be what keeps him in St. Louis.


Status: UFA

Tale of the Tape

  • HEIGHT: 6′ 4"
  • WEIGHT: 245
  • Shoots: Right
  • BIRTHDATE: Dec 7, 1976  (AGE 33)
  • BIRTHPLACE: Montreal, Que.
  • DRAFTED: EDM / 1995 NHL Entry Draft ROUND: 2nd  (31st overall)


I wouldn’t even have Georges on this list because I don’t think he fits the job description, but there’s no getting around his relationship with owner Daryl Katz, and that makes him a possibility.

After being run-off by coach Craig MacTavish, the Oilers were willing to take Laraque back (at Katz’s urging) and offer him a four-year deal at $1.5 million a season before he signed for one year less with Montreal.

Having been bought out by the Habs on a salary of $1.5 million, Laraque would come cheap and he says he’s got something to prove, but I’d be giving this one the thumbs-down. Then again, Katz isn’t signing my pay cheques, so keep on eye on this one.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.