"Courageous, untroubled, mocking and violent-that is what Wisdom wants us to be. Wisdom is a woman, and loves only a warrior." -- Friedrich Nietzsche quotes
Season stats: 45gp, 1g, 2a 3p, +2, 76 PIMs
Playoff stats: none
Month-by-month Pensburgh grades:
March: Check mark (kindergarten style)
Contract status: Signed for 2010-11 season ($750,000 cap hit)....Unrestricted free agent after 2010-11 season.
Interesting stat: Eric Godard got in 8 fights in the 2009-10 season and according to hockeyfights.com had a record of 6 wins 1 loss and 1 draw against such heavyweight competition as Donald Brashear, Colton Orr, Jody Shelley and Brian McGrattan.
The Good: There's no such thing as a "company man" in the NHL, but if there was, Godard might just fit the bill. He dressed in just 45 of the 93 total games, and played just 188 minutes in the games (4:11 per game) of he did get into. For comparison: Sidney Crosby played almost 10 times as many minutes in the course of the regular season alone.
Godard (who was voted "Player's Player" by his teammates in 2008-09) has never complained, never makes a fuss, just buckles down and does his best when he gets the chance. Which is fight and protect his boys. Perfect example would be Godard's third to last game of the season was March 18th in Boston. The significance? It was about two weeks after Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard and Godard wasn't at 100% coming back from a high-ankle sprain, tough on any hockey player. But with retribution in the air and almost literally a lynch mob calling for Cooke or Crosby's head. Godard was there. No hijinks ensued after Cooke fought, but when you need a deterrent, what better than having one of the best enforcers in the league sitting on the bench?
The Not-so-good: The point of using a part-time player in a part-time role is of debatable worth for a roster spot and drain on the salary cap, no matter how nominal the salary. To be blunt, Godard doesn't really contribute that much in the actual aspects of a hockey player. The days of the true "enforcer", a tough guy who fights and doesn't do much else appears to be ending in the NHL, for now anyways. There are still fights, to be sure, but very few guys who will fight a legit tough guy like Godard, a big reason why he "only" had 8 fights in 45 games. There's just not that many people who're willing to engage him, too many of Godard's kind -- the bruising fist-slinging tough guy have died off NHL rosters.
Then there's the issue of taking penalties that aren't fighting majors. Godard took 13 minor penalties this season. Perhaps that doesn't sound a lot, but that's about one minor penalty for every 14:30 that he played this season. Compare that to fellow 4th liners like Craig Adams (11 total minors, or one every 82:40 minutes played) or Mike Rupp (25 minors or one for every 29:25) and it's obvious that Godard's rate of minors was far too high, especially considering his negligible offensive contributions.
Final verdict: Godard didn't contribute much, and wasn't asked to contribute too much. It wasn't for a lack of effort or good intentions, but Godard just isn't a real NHL hockey player. He's a deterrent, spending 55 minutes on the bench, skating a few shifts and engaging in what's usually a stagefight against one of his fellow enforcers in the few times he bumps into one. He's good at what he does, however what Godard does isn't really something that directly helps a team win the Stanley Cup.
Question and Discussion: What role should the enforcer have next season? Godard figures to be about the 13th forward next season, and play some games, but going forward in the "new" NHL is there a place for a hockey player in the Eric Godard/Bob Probert/Stu Grimson/Donald Brashear mold that isn't too good at playing hockey?