The Arizona Republic’s Jim Gintonio deserves a special prize for introducing the word “warily” into the following item, where it appears no fewer than 3 times.
During a shift, Derek Boogaard might not throw a punch or even deliver a hard body check. Sometimes, a glare works just as well.
Boogaard, the Minnesota Wild’s 6-foot-7, 258-pound enforcer, can rule through intimidation. It’s one reason that penalty minutes for players of his type usually decrease in the NHL from the staggering figures they compiled in the minors while trying to make names for themselves.
“The role is important,” said Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins. “I think it keeps people a little more honest. It’s just our job, and we know that, and it has to be done. It’s not that we have any disdain for each other.”
It can be a cat-and-mouse – make that a lion-and-rhino – game when two enforcers are on the ice.
Asked if he and Boogaard warily eye each other on the ice, Thornton laughed.
“I don’t know if he warily watches me as much as I warily do him,” he said. “I know when other guys are on the ice, I know who everyone is, but to tell the truth, I try to put that as a secondary thing. I try to focus on playing first. If it happens, it happens. It’s not hard to find if you go looking for it, so I never put much thought into it. If I do it, it’s going to screw me up mentally.”
The beauty of intimidation is throwing an opponent off his game.
“I don’t know how the other team feels,” said Boogaard, who ran a hockey-fighting camp this summer, “but I’m just out there doing my thing.”