The enforcer role in the NHL is slowly falling by the wayside. With only 12 forwards to dress on a given night, teams have opted to utilize every spot with players that have definable hockey skill, not guys who simply throw their fists around in an attempt to intimidate opponents.
Brian Burke doesn't like that. The Leafs general manager sent his enforcer, Colton Orr, to the AHL on Thursday, and he opined about that reality in a sit down with the Toronto media, saying among other things that he fears the "rats" are taking over the sport.
"I know the Greenpeace folks will be happy with this," Burke said. "But I wonder where we're going, where Brendan Shanahan's getting six hearings every two days ... I wonder, the accountability in our game and the notion that players can stick up for themselves and each other, I wonder where we're going with that."
Burke's fear is that pests don't have to be held accountable -- guys who hit players and take runs at players and never drop the gloves when challenged. But the problem with Burke's logic is that even when there's an enforcer in the lineup, their challenges mean nothing to these so-called rats.
Enforcers are no longer a deterrent. If they were, guys like Orr wouldn't have to be placed on waivers.