Well, Lucic is four inches taller and 30 pounds heavier. He was also a bona fide boxer, a Stanley Cup winner, and a 30 goal scorer. Lucic is the prototypical power forward, fitting in to the Boston Bruins’ system of “big, bad, and can score” so well that it’s almost like Cam Neely never left. He’s a definite steal with just a smidge over $4 million cap hit, and to top it all off he’s a Restricted Free Agent after next season. He’s the kind of player a GM builds a franchise around.
Patrick Kaleta, meanwhile, is a douche.
Oh, and he makes an opposing team’s best players leave the ice for 2 minutes, 5 minutes, or more.
I fully realize that some people that read Sabre Noise don’t like profanity. But really, can you think of a word that better describes the way Kaleta plays?
- He hits everything he sees. For a long time this season, officials were calling him for any contact he made and it didn’t allow him to play what game he has. I thought for certain he’d played his way out of the NHL due to the fear of concussions across the league, but for whatever reason the zebras let him hit often last night in the 6-0 route of Boston.
- A lot of hockey fans downright hate Patrick Kaleta. He was rated the “2nd Most Hated Player” among NHL players, and that was before the former #1, Matt Cooke, cleaned up his game. He makes fans and players nervous because even when he keeps his game clean, he is one screw up from ending a career. I won’t deny that. If he doesn’t intend to hit someone from behind, but he hits them as hard as he can and times it wrong, that’s a big injury that can happen.
- He has head-butted someone on the ice. Just sayin’.
- Watch this goal celebration. Oh my God, it drives me nuts and I’m a freakin’ Sabres fan! No wonder Max Pacioretty and the Montreal Canadiens tried to start a post-game skirmish after Kaleta potted the empty netter. It might be the single most obnoxious goal celebration in history, and he knows it!
I dare you to describe that goal celebration and not use the word “douchy.” Don’t judge me.
- Oh, and he loves to emulate Tom & Jerry during games.
- To top everything off, the guy’s not a top line forward. He doesn’t back up all that with 30 goal seasons, or clutch scoring, or even fighting. You can see in most games that when someone chirps at Kaleta, he takes little interest in throwing down with them. Around the league this is known as “being a coward.” When it’s your guy, it’s called “drawing a penalty.”
I really don’t have a problem when fans on message boards say they hate him. In fact, I don’t even mind when commentators complain and moan that he wears a face shield during a fight, mostly because it results in them bumbling their way into a horribly delivered joke that can easily be misconstrued. No, Mike Milbury, I don’t know what you mean. You could mean anything!
Because here’s the catch, kids. Pat Kaleta serves the Buffalo Sabres a very specific purpose. Yeah, he kills some penalties. Yeah, he “opens up the ice” or whatever you want to call it when someone gets knocked down. But what he does best is keep players like Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara off the ice for minutes at a time. I mean, those are two of Boston’s best players. Chara damn near plays half the game, and he had to sit down for two minutes because he retaliated for a questionable hit. Lucic, as I pointed out above, is probably Boston’s best forward, and they had to play without him for 5 minutes because of a fight.
Meanwhile, the Sabres lost the services of who? A guy with 5 points who played a total of 13:23. Think about it…Kaleta was responsible for those 7 Boston penalty minutes, not to mention the moronic two minute penalty and ten minute misconduct Lucic took after the game was already a wash. Plus the misconduct Adam McQuaid took. Seriously…the guy is responsible for 29 penalty minutes given to Boston, or more than double his own time on ice.
Every single moment of his game is based around angering the other team, their fans, their coaches, their commentators, and the hockey gods. And it works. It’s called opportunity cost. It’s not what he brings to the ice in tangible form, but what does he make other teams give up due to taking out frustration. What are opponents willing to sacrifice just to punch his jerky mug?
Yes, he got manhandled in a fight. I’m sure every Boston fan loves to watch him get dominated in fisticuffs. However that is one mediocre fourth line player willing to take a beating so that the opponent’s best forward doesn’t get to play for 5 full minutes. If Patty’s willing to take that trade-off, I’m willing to recognize how great of a trade it is.
If he’s willing to pay the price, it makes for damn fine strategy.
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