How many times last season did we whine that the team was being pushed around, had no fight? That outside of Otter, no one seemed capable of frustrating the other team and providing a spark for the Stars to feed off of? Pretty much every night.
While we all talk about the defense a lot, another real concern for the Stars was their grit. Going into the offseason Joe Nieuwendyk knew that a top priority had to be making the team tougher to play against. No team can expect to make the postseason with a reputation of being easy to push around. He addressed that issue today by signing Burish, who is expected to provide some punch on the lower lines. Burish described his game as that of an antagonizer:
"The way I play the game, I am confrontational, I want to be in your face and I want to be hard to play against," Burish said. "When the game is done I want them to say I hated to play against Burish. I can't stand playing against that guy. Then I'll know I've done my job. I like to have that in my game."
That sounds like the kind of player the Stars are short on. Our defenders, like Nicklas Grossman and Stephane Robidas, go about their game quietly. Loui Eriksson isn't going to get in anyone's face consistently. Neither is Mike Ribeiro, or James Neal, or any forward not named Steve Ott or Krys Barch. Speaking of Otter, Burish had nothing but high praise for him:
"I think I can contribute offensively as well, but you've got to have a balance. You got to play on the edge. I enjoy playing on the edge. I love the way Steve Ott plays. I think he does a great job of it. You have to walk a fine line where you don't put your team in a tough spot."
After the jump: How the Stars will use him, and youtube videos...
So how will the Stars use Burish? Pencil him in on the bottom two lines as a really good energy guy. He'll battle along the boards for pucks and aggressively forecheck. He'll dominate the physical game, using his body and stick to intimidate (and outright annoy) other players. That gets him trouble though, as he has 323 penalty minutes in 169 NHL games. He'll be an upgrade to a horrific penalty kill as well. Burish averaged 1:53 SHTOI last season, and 2:50 SHTOI the year before. Oh, and he likes to talk on the ice. A lot. Usually to the other team.
If you're looking for a scorer, you're out of luck. (Burish only has 21 points in his career). But if you want a high-energy antagonizer who will make the Stars a tough team to play against, you've got your man. It wasn't a flashy signing, but the Stars filled a big need today.
Finally, this awesome quote:
"But I am going to go through a wall for these guys. If that means I've got to go through somebody, I'll go through somebody. I'm the kind of guy where if I have to block a shot with my face, I'll do it. I think that can be contagious on a team.''
Example of Burish agitating: (via wgn)
Oops, wrong one. Here's Burish protecting a teammate:
Burish vs Ballard Jan 3, 2008 (via hockeyfightsdotcom)