Ryan Garbutt has certainly made an impression in the National Hockey League by now, wouldn't you say? From coming up in 2011-2012 and immediately showing off his speed and truculence to scoring 17 goals last year en-route to a multi-year contract extension, Garbutt has been noticeable. He's made nice plays on breakaways, scored a shorthanded goal here and there, and even been trusted with ice time defending a lead in the final minute of a period. He's come a long way since leaving Brown, but the problem lately has been why we've noticed him so much.
As we wait for Garbutt's suspension to come down from Quintal & Co. Thursday--and make no mistake, there will be one--let's look at Mohammad Bakhach's overview of Garbutt's assets and liabilities in this post on The Hockey Writers (written prior to the Winnipeg game, as its conclusion clearly shows):
Garbutt is no stranger to a physical, gritty style of play. That is part of what won him a spot on the roster and an eventual three-year, $1.8 million contract extension in January. He and Roussel make up two-thirds of a tenacious, relentless and physically punishing line for the Stars over the last couple of seasons. He’s seen his share of trouble having been suspended twice, one as recently as November 25 for kneeing Taylor Hall, but when the trio is focused and plays the right way, there is no doubt they are key to Dallas’ success. They were leaned on heavily as Dallas’ second line last season and have been together for a good part of this season.
Garbutt is sixth on the team in hits this season with 31, and he has done so with at least four fewer games played than four of the five players he trails. He is second on the team in penalties drawn per game behind Vernon Fiddler. Since he broke into the NHL in the 2011-2012 season, he has thrown 287 hits and accumulated 178 penalty minutes in 153 games. Not only can he play the grinding role, but he also has the ability to produce. In those 153 games, he has tallied 27 goals and 55 points, and his ice time has grown each season. He averaged little over eight minutes in his rookie campaign, and he is averaging over 13 minutes so far this season. His speed has led to some highlight-reel goals, including the beauty in the video below against the Phoenix Coyotes earlier this season.
The last two games were perfect examples of Jekyll and Hyde moments resulting from Garbutt’s style of play. Luckily for the Stars, more often than not, Garbutt is able to find the right side of that balance, and the team could definitely use more of it to try to climb back into playoff contention. [The Hockey Writers]
For context, check out SportsNet's collection of Garbutt clips right here. The video says "you be the judge," but I'm pretty sure they are judging him a lot.
The emotional reaction from Starsland to Garbutt's latest buffoonery against the Jets is to scream for the Stars to "waive, trade or lock-out-of-the-rink" him as soon as possible. Will they do that? Not yet, probably, especially after extending the same Ryan Garbutt so recently. While Garbutt wasn't quite this inept in his malpractice last year, he was certainly no Lady Byng candidate by any stretch of the imagination, even before the Penner and Perry incidents. (Not that I will ever really fault him for the Perry incident, except for his too-obvious execution.)
But Garbutt's actions of late combined with the Stars' place in the standings have led to an louder outcry against him than we've seen so far. These sorts of actions, shown on video and replayed for everyone to see, are pretty hard to watch, even as we recognize that the intent behind them (to agitate and frustrate the opposition) is worthy of respect according to accepted hockey dogma. If we're being honest, the big problem we have with all this isn't that Garbutt is the type to trip people or shove a stick where the sun don't shine; our issue (aside from when he's injured people, which is obviously never, never okay) is that he seems to be way too obvious when he attempts these sorts of actions. It reflects poorly on an otherwise-saintly group of players, coaches and employees, we are led to think. At least, that's what probably made me spend twenty minutes "angry texting" with a Ducks fan this morning. It makes us feel dirty when other people can clearly see our player delivering a illegal hit or pile-drive or slew foot or whatever. We want to be able to talk about how terrible Dustin Brown and Corey Perry are with impunity, and Garbutt doing Things Like That jeopardizes that ability. Suddenly the Stars are employing a player "like that," and it becomes a drunk uncle at the family reunion situation. It's not fun to joke about that embarrassing guy when he's from your side of the family.
You know what the real shame of it all is, though? Roussel is getting thrown in with Garbutt. Here Antoine has been playing really well this year and avoiding a lot of the "duncical" penalties, and then his sometimes-linemate goes and causes the rest of the league to look down their nose at the French Fracas as if he's been the one pulling out figure skating moves to trip a goalie right in front of Tim Peel the whole time.
I mean, come on, Ryan Garbutt. Come on.
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Thursday Links are better than getting a cowbell in the old fruitstand.
No matter what happens, we still have John Klingberg. [The Hockey News]
Rick Gosselin wonders if the Stars are being patient in all the right ways. [DMN]
Something resembling good news, from Mark Stepneski: Patrick Eaves did not require surgery on his ankle. He'll be back in 4-8 weeks. [Twitter]
Mike Heika is coming to the conclusion that nobody has the answers this year. Even Ken Jennings couldn't tell you why everything is broken this year, although here's hope ("hope") that Kari's injury was part of his subpar play thus far. [DMN]
The Stars are partnering with a local business franchise to raise awareness during their "Selfie" contest they have each home game. The local franchise is McDonalds. Raising awareness for McDonalds. [Dallas Business Journal]
Would have been nice if the Stars could of got there grammar right during the Winnipeg scoreboard troll Tuesday. [SportsNet]
But never fear: Eva Kovacs is here to defend the great city of Winnipeg from the acerbic wit of the Stars' scoreboard! [Global News]
Best wishes to Keith Ballard, who has been released from the hospital with multiple facial fractures after this hit last night. [CBS Sports]
Suspensions aren't just for Ryan Garbutt anymore. Marco Scandella also found his way back onto the DoPS radar, garnering a two-game suspension for delivering a check to the head. [NHL]
With Adam Larsson and Travis Zajac its latest victims, the Great Mumps appears to be unstoppable in the NHL this year. What can be done? [CBS]
Winnipeg, Minnesota and Colorado are all expected to play outdoor games next year, per Darren Dreger. That's funny, he misspelled Dallas, hahahaah..aw.... [Twitter]
Michael Handzus has signed on to play hockey in Europe. Hockey in Slovakia, Hockey in Slovakia...keep saying it. [Second City Hockey]
Finally, here is a lecture about why Scandella was suspended for clocking Brock Nelson in the head: