The New Age of the NHL

The NHL is not quite the league it was the last time the Dallas Stars found themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the year 2000, fighting and enforcing were works of art. Darien Hatcher was the captain, standing 6 feet 5 inches and 245 lbs. Ding ding goes the heavyweight fighter bell. A young Brendan Morrow was the contrast to Hatcher only standing at 5 feet 11 inches but a solid 212 lbs. Morrow would lead the Stars that year in penalty minutes with 81. (He only skated in 64 regular-season games. He was a scrappy young lad.)

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Since then the NHL has seen fighting come under fire for well-documented reasons, mainly the long-term effects of concussions. Which in all fairness, makes absolute sense. At 33 years of age, just over half of my life knew the hockey from the ’80s-’90s. The gritty, violent, fast-paced, and unforgiving style of hockey that just isn’t around anymore.

So what’s an enforcer like these days? Well, for argument’s sake I give you the Dallas Stars’ newest and badest enforcer: John Klingberg.

If you identify as a Stars fan there is an enormous chance you have taken in the masterpiece from Jeff Toates, “We’re Not Going Home.” The documentary followed the Stars’ journey throughout the bubble on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. (If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and check it out.) One guy stood out to many, Klinger.

Klinger wreaked of charisma throughout the documentary, but it wasn’t his off ice personality that stood out to me. Rather his physicality and ability to live in the heads of his opponents. This led me to take a brief look into the history of Klingbergs ability to stir the pot.

Klingberg the Enforcer: A Case Study

Exhibit A: Klingberg takes exception to a questionable hit on goalie Ben Bishop. Has no issue with displaying his emotions through the art of a cross-check.

Exhibit B: Just have a listen. Warning: NSFW.

Exhibit C: Mike Mckenna is a 14 year veteran in professional hockey spending a handful of seasons with the Stars organization. If there is one person who’s opinion I trust? It’s McKenna’s.

As you can see and hear, Klingberg has the tendencies of an enforcer of the days of old.

In the current NHL, I guess Klinger would be more classified under the mantra of being an agitator. (Antoine Roussel we miss you.)

When the next season finally gets a start date and we are able to enjoy the NHL again, keep an eye on Klinger.
Guys like him don’t come around often, and with the expansion draft looming one has to think that he would be a prized possession for the Seatle Kraken franchise. (Cue foreboding music.)

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