When push came to shove, Jordin Tootoo was the odd man out.
The Detroit Red Wings’ enforcer was placed on waivers after the Red Wings lost to the Winnipeg Jets, 4-2. However, the defeat certainly wasn’t the reason why Tootoo had to be let go.
“It’s just a numbers game, (too many forwards on the roster), that’s the reality…but I think Toots is a good man, a good teammate, and a good player.” – Mike Babcock
Jordin Tootoo played in 8 games this season with the Wings and racked up a massive total of zero points. But getting points wasn’t what he was getting paid do. So, perhaps a better statistic is that he only had one fight this season; the fight that started the game in Winnipeg.
Tootoo put up a good fight to stay with the Red Wings but his physical presence just never caught on as a valuable role in Detroit. It’s rather baffling considering the Detroit Red Wings used to relish their fighters. Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe, Darren McCarty, Joey Kocur, and Bob Probert all come to mind.
The Red Wings went 5-3-0 when Tootoo dropped the gloves. He certainly wasn’t hurting the team by picking up the 5 minute majors for fighting. So, why did he fall out of favor with the Red Wings? The best answer is, he only had 9 fights in the 50 games he was a Red Wing. Not good enough.
But is that really his fault?
The NHL is now speed and skill focused. Two attributes tough guys like Tootoo don’t possess.
The enforcer role is slowly disappearing from the NHL and Tootoo struggled to find other players to fight. It’s the classic snowball effect. As teams continued to get rid of their enforcers for more skilled players, it leaves Tootoo with fewer dancing partners. He can no longer do his job properly and is placed on waivers.
The snowball continues rolling down the hill.
I wouldn’t be surprised if 5-10 years from now fighting is no longer a part of hockey. I’m not saying fighting will be banned it’s just that players won’t have the motivation to do it any more. Five minutes in the penalty box for a skill player is a long time. They are supposed to be out on the ice getting as many goals as possible.
As Babcock said, Jordin Tootoo lost his roster spot with the Wings because of the “numbers game.” Well, it’s a game that no longer sees fighting as a valuable skill.
The new era of hockey has officially reached Detroit.
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