Wild West: Whipping Boys in the West

Grant Campbell


I'm going to assume that every NHL team and city has a whipping boy or two on their rosters. This is the player who rightly or wrongly is singled out most nights, for lack of effort, lack of production, giving the puck away, losing a check, or a crappy game Corsi. Since I live in Vancouver, I only know this particular market intimately and know that even if a chain of errors with two or three players leads to a goal, the whipping boy is the one singled out every time. Is it fair? Probably not, but usually where there is smoke there is fire.

More often than not, these players have had some success in the past, and make more money than the average player which might justify the criticism levelled at them. I assume every city is not as rabid as Vancouver in writing this as post-game breakdowns can be brutal here.

Obviously, this becomes a frenzy when a team is struggling as the Canucks have been, but even on teams that win, there are performances that don't measure up and the player is called into question.

I've tried to research each team by perusing their game day threads online and learn a little. It appears that each city has the same issue where it seems that the refereeing sucks and is biased against their team, star players should be traded at the end of the second period and coaches have no idea who to play and how much ice time each player should get. The last two points only apply when losing, but the referee issue seems to stand win or lose.

Please leave a comment if you follow one of these teams or live in the city to let me know what player or players are roasted on a regular basis if I got it wrong.

Anaheim Ducks

John Klingberg played eight seasons with the Dallas Stars and is in his first season with Anaheim. According to some Duck fans, there is a reason that Dallas moved on from Klingberg and they feel fortunate that Anaheim only signed him for one season. From the outside he appears as a capable offensive-minded defender who can put up 45-50 points a season and run a power play. His arrival in Anaheim has delayed Jamie Drysdale's production reaching another level until at least next season.

Max Comtois led the Ducks with 33 points in 55 games in 2020-21, but since then has seven goals and 10 assists in 58 games. He has battled some injuries since then but the bottom line is that he has struggled to produce. He's a physical player who gets around two hits per game, so the effort might still be there when the production isn't. Unfortunately, he doesn't play defense well enough not to produce. He is an RFA after this season.

Arizona Coyotes