Some players have a calling card, a trademark or a brand, if you will, that defines their game. From the first day Dustin Brown came into the league, his was bone crushing hits. He looked for them, sometimes went out of his way to deliver them and, when he connected, he knocked the holy puck out of the recipient. Enjoy this video for a moment. We’ll pick up the discussion immediately thereafter.
Here is what I am asking – with Brendan Shanahan playing Wyatt Earp, what’s a hard-hitting cowboy like Dustin supposed to do and, conscious of the new rules and their enforcement, will our captain start backing off on the big hits?
Notice the emphasis. We are not writing about Dustin Brown ceasing to hit. That won’t happen. He will likely still be at or near the top of the league in hits (in general). We are addressing the body flailing, momentum changing, fight inducing, and/or getting you out of your seat type of physical contact – his trademark.
I looked carefully at the hits on that video. Dustin Brown hits hard. He keeps the elbows down. None of those are dirty by any reasonable standard. However, about 5 of those hits on that video may get Brownie a suspension this season and, once you get one, you have a rap sheet which makes the likelihood of longer suspensions on subsequent hits more likely.
Right now, everyone is on notice that Sheriff Shanahan means business and he is making wallets lighter and rosters thinner. He will likely keep doing that until the message sinks in, as is evident on the ice. That’s all fine and great and, some may argue, long overdue but what will that change mean for our captain and an integral part of his game? When you are done answering that question, supplement it with the same one for Mike Richards.