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A Brief Wander, Followed By A Serious Rant On Agitators




Ahem.  Sorry.  I finger-puked on the keyboard.

He shoots, he scores!

Tiger Woods has confirmed the speculation.  He’s making his return to professional golf at Augusta.

You may have noticed by now that I kinda sorta enjoy that golf tournament.  When he wrapped his Escalade around… well, pretty much everything (animated graphic here), I became immediately panicked about the undisputed best weekend in sports.

But today, proper order has been restored to the world.

What’s that you say?  The Masters, NHL playoffs, NBA playoffs, college hockey playoffs, March Madness finals and the start of the baseball season?  Hmm.  Thank youuu, April. 

I’ll be live blogging the weekend on one of those “Cover It Live” things, and anybody who wants to watch “with” me and entertain each other (that guy spends more time in the sand than David Hasselhoff), I welcome your company.


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Basically, they were explaining to simpletons like me how the reader is becoming the distributor.  Good writing, entertaining stories and all things viral are passed about by people like you recommending stuff through Digg, Twitter, and any of the million other options you have for sharing.

So, on those days I write something of significance (not that OMG TIGER WOODS IS COMING BACK isn’t), please share share share!  You can also grab my RSS thinger, follow me on Twitter, or just come to my site and read stuff the old fashioned way.  Whatever tickles your pickle.

{Also, thanks to Kyle and Fiona for their recent donations to the blog.}


Alright, I’m on to hockey, calm down.


We’ve all accepted that agitators are a part of hockey.  They always have been.  But let’s call a spade a spade today, because frankly, it’s fun to do.

They’re phonies.

A legit NHLer that doesn't need to play so douchey.

Their style of play is a cop out for effective hockey.  When they aren’t performing well, they always have the fail-safe option of flapping their gums in the direction of their opponent, and suddenly everyone thinks they’re “in the game”. 

Even their coach might say “Look at that guy, he’s the only one who cares tonight.”


O-VER  RATE-ED clap-clap-clapclapclap. 

For some reason, the fans love them, yet they have zero positive effect on their teams chances of winning, unless they’re actually playing the quality hockey that so many of them are capable of.  Zero percent, because for every time their antics help a team win, it’s balanced by them costing their team a game.

In this sport, what does “rattling” your opponent do?  Fire him up?  — It’s hockey, not golf.  I understand head games when you’re playing a guy who has to stand over a four foot million dollar putt, but getting someone more involved and revved up in a physical game?  All these idiots do is wake sleeping beasts.

There are times when they draw penalties, sure.  But to do that, you need to sneak in a few spears and trips, which means they end up taking a few along the way themselves.  These guys hear “poser” and “clown” and “phony” on repeat, because their peers know what they are.  They’re doing whatever they need to do to draw a paycheck, but it’s not in a respectable way.  It’s indecent proposal on skates – would you intentionally injure people for a million dollars?  Apparently, yes.

Name me a completely clean agitator that’s get devoid of a “questionable” play in their career.  Cooke?  Burrows? Hartnell?  Downie?  Carcillo?  Avery?  Somewhere along the line they all take it too far. (Honest question: I rarely see the Wild play, but Clutterbuck is getting a bit of a reputation for being effective.  Is he both an “agitator” and still without incident?  Maybe he’s the rule’s exception.)

Thanks for the pixels, person I stole this from.

In playing that role, you know that’s the case.  You know at some point you “might” hurt someone.   Your coach knows that’s probably going to happen too, so he lives with his fingers crossed that it just doesn’t cost the team a penalty.

How many times can you watch a forward make a just-a-split-second-later-than-necessary attempted hit, miss the guy and make a ruckus on the glass, and still rise to your feet and applaud?

The difference between those worthy of our respect is just so unmistakable: If Jerome Iginla feels someone did something that needs answering, he drops the gloves from his Hall-of-Fame 50-goal scoring hands and fights.  If Vincent Lecavalier needs to get his team going, he’ll do the same.

But when Sean Avery goes to fill his role, he skates by the opposing bench, taunts someone, hacks someones laces, agrees to fight then leaves his gloves on to draw a penalty.  There’s no honor there.  But enjoy your celebrity, dude.

These guys have always been in the game, from my Dad’s day to mine.  They aren’t going anywhere, and I’m not proposing they do.  I’m just proposing we open our eyes and stop cheering for them.


39 Responses to “A Brief Wander, Followed By A Serious Rant On Agitators”
  1. Jarick says:

    Wild fan here, so here’s your bias.

    Clutterbuck is a farily clean pest. He keeps his elbows and stick down and hustles to make plenty of shoulder hits. The big gray area is that he really pushes out those late hits. Not 2-3 seconds after the play, but he cuts it close. He’s a very good PK’er and defensive player and has a hell of a shot (hardest slapper on the team, great wrister), but his hockey sense is not so good. And he uses a stick up to his eyebrows IN SKATES.

  2. Goody says:

    Another Wild fan weighing in (probably all got here via that reader distributing you thing…).

    Player – Pts season to date – PIMs season to date
    Clutterbuck – 18 – 34!
    Cooke – 27 – 85
    Burrows – 58 – 135
    Hartnell – 39 – 129
    Downie – 40 – 194
    Carcillo – 18 – 175
    Avery – 27 – 137

  3. While I agree with some of your points, I’d much rather see Carcillo, Avery etc in the game than Boogard, Laraque etc – no doubt I will be flamed for that point of view, but my logic is somehow similar: when these guys decide to actually play the game, they can actually play!

  4. Mike P. says:

    Totally agree with you Bourne! I don’t have much respect for the pure goon. Tough guys like Lecavalier are a different story. It always annoys me to hear the commentators talking about how two 4th line goons get in a fight to “inspire the teams”. I don’t see how pro players could need that to get into the game. I think their competitive spirit is a little higher than that.

  5. jtbourne says:

    Not much “flaming” goes on in the comments section of Bourne’s Blog, Duff, you’re all good. Those types are probably equally useless.

    And thanks for the numbers, Goody, that disparity is incredible!

  6. Sherry says:

    Agree with Duff, and it kind of speaks to my point from yesterday – maybe even the yappers and agitators will change what they bring to the ice as the game changes, because some of them can play and contribute when they focus on the execution aspects of the game instead of yapping.

  7. kitten fister says:

    Clutterbuck does not drop the gloves like the rest of the guys on that list. I think that is why there is such a desparity.

  8. MikeB says:

    Steve Downie is fantasy hockey gold if you count PIMS.

    Playing with Stamkos and St. Louis helps a lot.

  9. jtbourne says:

    Yeah. The main reason I don’t count PIMS in my league is so that guys like Steve f**king Downie aren’t “fantasy hockey gold”.

  10. AiH says:

    And yet another well placed boot to the hairy danglers by jtbourne. It isn’t enough that the Healthy Scratches are hard at work cleaning up the basement of the Bourne’s Blog Fantasy league you have to chirp them in your comments section (e.g. Downie, Steve).

    You, yes you Bourne are being an agitator! That is two drive by low blows and some beak time to go with it. I wonder what your points and PIMs look like for the year.

  11. ms.conduct says:

    Clutter will drop ‘em, just not much. He’s not dirty enough to need to much. Jarick? Lack of hockey sense? Really? I don’t agree with that, but I know you know your hockey, so I respect your opinion.

    Kid is just strategic out the wazoo and is, IMO a different breed from those other guys.

    Speaking of which, was watching OTF last night and they did a little compilation of Ovechkin “dirty” hits… turned my stomach almost as much as the Cooke one on HNIC. All that knee on knee. Ish. Stop that.

  12. bchip says:

    Clutterbuck doesn’t have to fight (nor does he). He simply gets Boogaard and Scott to go. Though, that doesn’t mean he isn’t dirty. In his defence, he is by no means a Cacilloesque villan.

  13. jtbourne says:

    Clutterbuck gets more verbal handjobs from his teams fan base then anyone else in the league. I just check the stats on

  14. MikeB says:

    my team is built on points/pims guys. downie, perry, burrows, simmonds.

    Keep in mind both Gino Malkin and Ovie have over 80 min in PIMS as well. It balances out.

  15. Goody says:

    Coming through with more stats…

    Player – Fights season to date

    Clutterbuck – 2
    Cooke – 4
    Burrows – 1
    Hartnell – 5
    Downie – 8
    Carcillo – 15
    Avery – 7

    So, extrapolating a bit by subtracting fighting PIM’s (5 per) from above since fighting really racks up the PIM’s…

    Player – non-fighting PIM’s season to date

    Clutterbuck – 24
    Cooke – 65
    Burrows – 130
    Hartnell – 109
    Downie – 154
    Carcillo – 100
    Avery – 102


    Player – Hits year to date

    Clutterbuck – 263
    Cooke – 158
    Burrows – 80
    Hartnell – 113
    Downie – 117
    Carcillo – 159
    Avery – 130

  16. jtbourne says:

    MikeB, it just makes no sense. People know PIMS are bad right? Detrimental to the team?

    I can’t wrap my head around competing against other fantasy teams, rooting for goals, assists, plus/minus, game winners, then you beat your opponent in a close head-to-head match cause your guy hauls a guy down for two in the third, on which they score and win.

    That’s a good thing? I dunno, just my take man.


    Goody – how brutal is Burrows ratio of minor penalties to hits? Good thing he has the pts to justify it.

  17. Blake says:

    Justin…From a Wild fan’s standpoint, Clutterbuck (who, incidentally, has the best name in hockey bar none) getting the verbal handjobs is well deserved. First of all, he’s an effective pest and agitator without ever taking it into the dirty range (yes, he occasionally hits late, yes he occasionally hits high…Odds are you have someone on your team that does it too…Get over it). Second, he has some offensive upside. Last season, both Mario Tremblay and Jacques Lemaire went on record saying that he had the best shot on the team…This is on a team with Marian “Papergroin” Gaborik. His stats may not have shown it yet, but he’s still a young player and still growing in his game. Give him a few years and I think you could have a guy that’s a consistent 20 goal scorer without compromising from the physical aspect.

    As far as the PIMs thing…I’ve never really understood it. People judge players on how physical they are etc by their PIMs? So it’s a good thing that they skate like they have cinder blocks for skates and had to haul down that player to prevent an odd man rush?

  18. I motion that Cooke and Carcillo should have 1 fight each removed from that list – I don’t count fighting Rob Niedermayer, or more to the point, Marian Gaborik as a ‘fight’!

  19. ms.conduct says:

    Isn’t a verbal handjob just a blowjob?

  20. ms.conduct says:

    Oh wait, that would be an oral handjob.

    Nevermind. Carry on.

  21. Am I the only one slightly depressed that the most exciting thing about tonight’s Leafs v Sens game is the ‘prospect’ of ANOTHER round of Orr versus Carkner…..

  22. MikeB says:

    I didn’t set up the league I just pay to win it.

    I don’t see the point either. I’d rather sit on pts, pp, sh, +/-, gwg, but this league counts PIMs instead of pp. PIMs are only worth 1/4 point but if you do the math downie has more PIM pts then actual points.

    And the Sens-Leafs game will probably suck, but we might get great quotes like “i thought that was him telling us how many shifts per game he gets” in reference to Orr holding up 3 fingers after winning the last carkner-orr tilt. And yes it will be another boring fight.

  23. Neil says:

    Case and point re: Clutterbuck. In only 60 games played (compared to 65+ for most), he leads the league in hits, has 18 points on the year, and only dropped the gloves twice because Steve Ott manhandled him twice in the same game. I’m not going to dispute that he’s a good player with a lot of sandpaper but it certainly looks like somebody else on his team is doing the fighting for him, even though he’s not exactly what you’d call an offensive (or guilt-free) asset. Campbell made it clear that Clutterbuck’s style of play was a big reason Gonchar didn’t get suspended for clubbing him (illogical, yes, but it seems Cal has a reputation in the league and it’s not for sportsmanship).

    I can appreciate the first point brought up re: Clutterbuck, he seems to play with an edge, throw a ton of hits, and take less penalties than the average agitator. I’m not a big fan but he plays hard and I’m sure his style of play helps his team win games, I can see why fans love him. Plus, many of the other names topping the hits list aren’t dropping the gloves too much either (Ryan Callahan!?). But then again, lots of them are guys like Chris Neil and Steve Ott (11 fights each), who hit a lot but answer the bell too. Or guys like Getzlaf, Iggy, Bogosian, Phaneuf, and Mike Richards, who hit a lot, have more fights than Clutterbuck, and are far more important to their teams . If these guys score, hit, AND fight, why can’t Cal hit and fight?

    My theory for why Clutterbuck doesn’t fight can be found by watching these youtube clips of both of his fights, which were during the same game and occurred because Steve Ott didn’t give him a choice.

    I love that you took PIMs out of the BBHL Bourne, excellent choice.

  24. Char says:

    It’s certainly possible to be a pest or an agitator without being dirty/jerky about it, but that’s a fairly rare talent. The dirty agitators are obviously in the majority. And I’m glad you said what you did, because I’ve been thinking it for a long time. As much as a guy like Avery can drive an opponent into a stupid rage now and then, much more often he’ll cost his team rather than help it.

    And I just hope the Leafs keep on losing. Tyler Sequin is looking pretty damn good. ;-)

  25. Char says:

    And oh, BTW, Justin, I have your site linked on my blog. Only about 20 people read it, but it’s something, right? ;-)

  26. Best ‘agitator’ moment for me involved no physical contact with an opposing player – Avery distracting Brodeur! Stroke of genius! Boy did that pee Brodeur off, but no physical contact was made, no one got hurt and so forth

    For all the stupid stuff Avery has done, that was a moment of ‘alternative’ hockey genius!

  27. Neil says:

    That was awesome when they asked players around the league what they thought of Avery doing that, Joe Thornton smiled and basically agreed with you Duff, saying he thought it was a great and creative way of distracting a goalie and that players should be allowed to do it if they think it’s going to help (it certainly got Brodeur’s blood boiling).

  28. Will says:


    I disagree with you here. While many-a-pest do hurt their teams, I know many who are/were effective (if I’d only played against Vernon more often, you probably would have had Vandy barking at you in the room between periods for somebody to take my head off). I understand your point that hockey isn’t golf, but you’re comparing apples to oranges. When a pest pisses off not just a single individual, but a team, you create the slightest chance that somebody on the team will do something stupid to retaliate. I think this is a phenomenon that’s slowly dying out as players are plain being smarter and blocking it out of their heads, but I guarantee you some people still go ahead and do “something” they wouldn’t do otherwise. This reaction doesn’t always result in a penalty; sometimes a guy thinks about doing something, takes a slightly different route to run the “pest,” and puts himself out of position. I had guys who were easily the other team’s best player (Michel Leveille with the Clippers comes to mind), where I was shadowing/matched up against them, and they ended up fighting me to “prove” themselves. Granted, the BCHL is different from the NHL, but it goes to show that you can easily produce a great trade-off with coincidental penalties between “pest” and “star.”

    As much as I hate a guy like Avery, I think you have to respect the fact he does a pretty good job at throwing off the other team (even if he sacrifices all personal honour in doing so). He’ll do stupid things like waving his arms in front of a goalie, cracking jokes of a personal nature to reporters, or keeping his gloves glued on until he decides to fight, but he gets in the other team’s head like it’s nobody’s business. Sometimes he goes too far–I acknowledge that–but many times, after he’s scored a big goal and packages it with an over-the-top celebration, it pisses off his opposition that much more. The moment you change what you do as a team in reaction to a single player, you’re behind the eight-ball.

    Of course, it’s hard to appreciate any pest if he doesn’t shed his gloves once in a while. But, to be honest, I think the time where fighting has a legitimate role in hockey is coming to an end (this coming from a guy who fought far too often in his own junior career). That debate is a whole separate issue, so I won’t get into it… However, I will end this long-winded response on this note–a pest is only as effective as what he brings to his team’s play, as well as how his play changes the behaviour of his opposition. In many cases, he’s hurting his own team more than he helps, but many of the names you mention above are the names of those who have shown they help their own team more than they hurt it (Avery and the Dallas Stars notwithstanding).

  29. Agitators are entertaining and great when they’re on your team. The problem with them is that they often back down when someone else challenges them. The NHL just seems like a confused place these days with the heavyweights being phased out, the agitators afraid to fight, and no one knowing how to make a great clean big hit without boarding the other person or taking them out with a shoulder or elbow.

  30. Justin says:

    Spot on, Will.

    There’s a ton of unspoken rules in hockey, things every player understands as being right or wrong by the code of the game. Some people are willing to cross the line (this very thin, grey line) a little more than others. Does this make them scumbags? Generally it does, but some guys that who choose to straddle that line can do it pretty effectively; as long as they’re willing to pay the piper once in a while, there’s a place in the game for them.
    A bunch of other guys choose to completely ignore the unstated but understood mores of the game and should be beaten with shovels.

  31. jtbourne says:

    Will – or rather, Harv: Look at you, even an agitator online. Haha…. I understand the concept man, I just think the perfect agitating situation you just created doesn’t exist. (Although, you getting Leville to fight you is good. Props on that)

    If a guy is a great player who happens to be agitating, that’s the best case scenario to me. Big celly’s, run’s his mouth, and infuriates the other team by being a guy they desperately want to stop, then yeah, he’s effective.

    But if he’s a guy who, like the names I mentioned, is agitating by taking little shots at guys, he’s taking HIMSELF out of the game. He’s thinking about the wrong thing, instead of helping his linemates out. For some reason, those guys take too much pleasure in having the attention from everyone, fans, players, whoever. Avery is an agitator because he loves the spotlight, not because he wants to help his team. The often seen Narcgitator.

    There may be some value to it, but to me, it was never worth playing like that to find out (With all due respect to you dude, you were fighting to back up your style of play)

  32. jtbourne says:

    Great point Keith

    ” The NHL just seems like a confused place these days with the heavyweights being phased out, the agitators afraid to fight, and no one knowing how to make a great clean big hit without boarding the other person or taking them out with a shoulder or elbow.”

  33. Madeleine says:

    Sometimes it’s like you’re reading my mind. This is exactly how I feel about agitators.
    Oh, and I link your blog to my facebook, so perhaps someone is reading?

  34. Goody says:

    One last stat for this…

    Minnesota has 30 fights so far this season. That puts them in a tie for 21st place in the league for number of fights. It sure doesn’t look like someone else is fighting for Clutterbuck.

    BTW, Clutterbuck racked up 4 more PIMs last night – all for interference – a result of ill timed hits.

  35. MWL says:

    One of clutters (we’ve got a good vibe after taking bear fights at the bar) penalties was due to anticipating the puck being rung but the puck jumped out, he still hit the guy…kind of a weird play.

    I think clutterbuck is solid, he plays hard and hits. Sets the tempo for the game, gets the fans involved and obviously rubs the other team the wrong way. He’s an ok player too, as had been mentioned above. There was an article written a year or so ago that talked about his JR experience. He played on a line with Tavares and “protected” him with only fighting a few times a year. He’s never been a fighter, it’s not like he’s scared of getting his ass kicked like he did by ott…i don’t think just because you hit you need to fight…

  36. Blake says:


    Clutterbuck has fought seven times in his less than two-season NHL career. The reason that he doesn’t fight is because he understands that his role isn’t to fight. His role is to get under players’ skins and get them to take stupid penalties to benefit the Wild. When a fight is sprung upon him, he doesn’t run or hide…He fights. Because of the fact that he is beneficial to the Wild’s team and to their offense (both an indictment of the Wild’s offense and a compliment to Clutter’s offensive skills), he knows that the team is better served having him on the ice than in the penalty box.

  37. Deirdre says:

    I don’t remember who said it – but one of the up front point scorers in the league. The comment was made shortly after Theo Fleury went to the Rangers that everyone loved having a really effective agitator on *your* team, but when you have to play against them it bites. Theo was an amazing agitator – riled up the other team, and put the puck in the back of the net.

    I played in a fantasy league that had fighting penalties as a separate category, and I kinda loved that. Of course this was in the early 90′s so…

  38. matt says:

    agitators- perfectly put by ozzie guillen on aj, something to the effect of “when he’s on another team, you hate him. when he’s on your team, you hate him a little less.”

  39. WWPKD says:

    counting “PIM’s” in fantasy hockey is the equivalent to counting “Double plays grounded into” for fantasy baseball

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