Penguins Need Some Nasty – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Need Some Nasty

I give new Penguins GM Jim Rutherford high marks for his off-season moves. Faced with dire cap constraints, he refused to overpay the team’s free agents, signed skilled defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to a bargain contact, and inked key RFAs such as Brandon Sutter and Nick Spaling to new deals. Along the way JR significantly upgraded the team’s bottom six.

pp0498The rebuild is 99 percent complete. All the Penguins need now is a little Nasty…free-agent enforcer Paul Bissonnette.

It’s true that Rutherford signed aggressive winger Steve Downie in July. And rugged defenseman Robert Bortuzzo backs down from no one. Still, it’s hard to imagine either of them neutralizing a Chris Neil or a Milan Lucic.

That’s where Bissonnette can help. “Bizz Nasty” isn’t the NHL’s reigning heavyweight champ, but he’s a capable and respected fighter. He has no qualms about dropping the mitts to defend a teammate.

Along with a knack for keeping foes honest, Bissonnette possesses decent speed for a tough guy. Plus, he’s a popular presence, both in the locker room and on social media.

“Right now he’s just looking for a good organization where he can contribute more than he’s been able to, to date, in the last couple years in Phoenix,” his agent Mark Guy said. “He wants to be in a position where he can compete for a solid fourth-line position and be a great team guy.”

Bissonnette has black-and-gold pedigree. A fourth-round pick of the Penguins back in 2003, he nearly made the team as an 18-year-old defenseman. After switching to left wing, Paul skated in 15 games for the Pens in 2008-09 (and won four fights) before being claimed on waivers by Phoenix. In 202 career NHL games he’s scored seven goals and racked up 340 penalty minutes.

Finding room under the cap for the 6’2” 216-pounder—who earned $750,000 with the Coyotes last year—might be a challenge. But it’s a relatively small price to pay for a touch of Nasty.

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  1. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    August 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    “And rugged defenseman Robert Bortuzzo backs down from no one. ”

    Uh. Yes he does. I have seen it quite a few times. He is not a top tier fighter and knows it. He has backed down on several occaissions. Need someone a bit better pugilist. He is tougher than pretty much any of the other current penguins, but that surely is not saying much.

  2. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    August 24, 2014 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    They better come up with something, this team was patheticly soft last year, and are even much worse so far this year. The roster is gag reflex inducing its so extremely soft! Need someone tougher that will play regularly. Downie is small and cant fight a lick. Bortuzzo was there last year, and overall the team was still soft. He also doesn’t play a lot of the time. And doesn’t fight the top eschelon fighters ever. THe direction of soft and fluffy that this team has taken to the extreme progressively over the course of the last 3 or 4 years is downright pathetic.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      August 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Hey Anonymous. Just saw your comments and thought I’d chime in.

      I agree wholeheartedly. The Penguins have softened up way too much. Nor do I think, when push comes to shove, that Bortuzzo and Downie are enough to shield Crosby and Co. from undue abuse.

      We do have a very capable fighter, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, under contract. The chances of PL3 making the team are about as remote as his full name fitting on the back of his jersey.

      Hindsight is 20/20, but I think the Pens’ attitude toward physical play took a dramatic (and unfortunate) U-turn following the huge brawl with the Islanders in February 2011.

      Prior to that, Ray Shero assembled teams that played with a Philly-like edge. The night of the Islanders donnybrook the Pens dressed Eric Godard, Mike Rupp and Deryk Engelland, not to mention second-tier scrappers like Craig Adams, Ryan Craig, Tyler Kennedy, Max Talbot and Joe Vitale. Arron Asham and Matt Cooke were on the team, too, but didn’t suit up. Heck, even backup goalie Brent Johnson was tough.

      Then Mario complained about the officiating. The league, rightfully so, pointed a finger back at Lemieux and said, “You’re not exactly a bunch of choir boys.” Instead of letting it go at that, Mario came out and said, “Okay, we’re not going to play that way anymore.”

      Shero got the message. Almost immediately he began to strip away layers of muscle.

      I understand we’ve entered an enlightened age. With the recent plethora of concussion-related injuries and deaths, hockey’s heavyweights are going the way of the dodo bird. Maybe that’s a good thing. But there’s still a physical element to the sport that’s never going to go away.

      The Kings understand that. The two-time Stanley Cup champs had no fewer than five guys on their roster who tipped the scales at 220-plus pounds. Contrast that with the Pens, who seem almost allergic to drafting or promoting players with size.

      I just don’t get it.

  3. Johnny's Gravatar Johnny
    August 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    100% agree with you here! After that ALS video though everyone wants him.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      August 12, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      According to reports the Pens, Caps and Wild are interested in signing him.

  4. Frank's Gravatar Frank
    August 12, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Good call.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      August 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Frank.

      With Engelland, Glass, Orpik and Vitale all leaving town, I’m afraid the Pens won’t be physical enough. Downie’s a tough kid and so is Bortuzzo. But I think we’re still a little vulnerable unless we sign an honest-to-goodness enforcer.

      • Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
        August 24, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        Agree.. A lot vulnerable. The team overall was tougher last year, and other physical teams still took advantage of the situation. Even some middle of the road, not “bullyish” teams put it on the penguins physically. The bad part is, even though they were soft last year, they lost more toughness this offseason than they gained. So instead of improving their situation in that regard it has worsened even more, due to a nonfighting advocate gm trying to inpart his beliefs on this roster, much to their detriment.

  5. Joseph's Gravatar Joseph
    August 12, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Love BizNasty … but yeah i think he could be needed especially with the only thing the Jackets know how to do is hit people.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      August 12, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Hey Joseph,

      I wish the Pens had total team toughness like Columbus. Then they wouldn’t really need an enforcer.

      Unfortunately, the Pens have softened up quite a bit over the past couple of seasons.


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