There's been a lot of talk about the Oilers since Georges Laraque blew town - and even before that. The talk is that a team without a player like BG is risking injury, particularly to its stars, since it can't retaliate. I'm sure that will get hauled out again since Lapointe stuck his knee out on Hemsky last night, and Stortini didn't exactly make him pay afterwards - although he did do more than his usual hug him to death, at least.
I'm wondering if it's really true - do teams lacking a "deterrent" in a big fighter like Laraque or Derek Boogard really lose more man-games to injury? There's always going to be plays like Reasoner going into the boards feet-first and hurting his knee, but with Laraque in the lineup, does Lapointe knee Hemsky? Many hockey fans will say "no", or perhaps say "maybe, but at least then Lapointe will pay" or even "Laraque could have gone after Kane or Toews".
A few years ago I would have been in one of those camps, but now I'm not so sure. The Detroit Red Wings, famously, don't have any designated tough guy in their lineup, although they've got plenty of toughness and have in the past iced guys like Darren McCarty. Tough guys are infamous for skating poorly - does the risk of having a guy who plays 3-7 minutes a game and is good for a quality chance against at least once a game outweigh the reward of having somebody who may or may not deter cheapshots on your star players?
It's a very interesting topic to me, but one that would be difficult to approach. Any of you four willing to lend a hand?