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Enforcer (ice hockey): Wikis

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Enforcer is an unofficial role in ice hockey. The term is sometimes used synonymously with "fighter", "tough guy" or "goon".

An enforcer's job is to deter and respond to dirty or violent play by the opposition. When such play occurs, the enforcer is expected to respond aggressively, by fighting or checking the offender. Enforcers are expected to react particularly harshly to violence against star players or goalies.

Enforcers are different from pests, players who seek to agitate opponents and distract them from the game, without necessarily fighting them. The pest's primary role is to draw penalties from opposing players, thus "getting them off their game," while not actually intending to fight the opposition player (although exceptions to this do occur).

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The enforcer in the NHL

At the NHL level, teams generally do not carry more than one player whose primary role is enforcer. Enforcers can play either forward or defense, although they are most frequently used as wingers on the 4th forward checking line. Prized for their aggression, size, checking ability, and fists, enforcers are typically less gifted at skill areas of the game than their teammates. Enforcers are typically among the lowest scoring players on the team and receive a smaller share of ice time.

Some players combine aspects of the enforcer role with strong play in other areas of the game. Bob Probert and Chris Simon are examples of enforcers who showed an occasional scoring flair. Sometimes enforcers can do their job by virtue of their reputation. Clark Gillies was among the best fighters in the NHL during his prime, but over time he rarely had to fight because opponents respected and feared him enough that they would not go after his teammates.[1] As well, some skilled players, such as legends Gordie Howe and current NHL all-star Jarome Iginla, are also capable fighters and can function effectively as their own enforcer. In fact, a "Gordie Howe hat trick" is the occurrence of a player scoring a goal, assisting on a goal, and being involved in a fight all in the same game.[2]

Changing role of the enforcer in the NHL

The changes in rule enforcement following the 2004–05 NHL season lockout aimed to increase game speed and scoring. Since then, the role of the enforcer has been in flux. With fighting decreased, teams are less inclined to keep a roster spot available for a one-dimensional fighter who is a liability as a scorer and defender.[3] This has led to a decrease in the number of players whose predominant role is enforcer. Instead, other players are expected to contribute aspects of the enforcer role. Even so, intimidation and fighting continues to be utilized as a strategy in the new NHL. In the 2007-08 NHL Season fights occurred in 38.46% of the games, up from 33% the season before, which was just below the pre-lockout fighting level of 41.14% of games in the 2003-04 season[4].

References

See also

Positions on the Hockey Rink
Forwards: HockeyRink.png
Left winger | Centre | Right winger
Defencemen:
Left defenceman | Right defenceman
Goaltender:
Goaltender
Power forward | Enforcer | Captain | Head coach | Referee & linesman
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