Look beyond the numbers before you slander

I understand that The Hockey News doesn’t hold much regard for fighting in hockey (in it’s current state at least), but for the top hockey publication to summarily dismiss the contributions of one of the top pugilists – even in a column – is irresponsible.

In the Anti-Awards piece of the May 11th issue, Sam McCaig said New York Ranger Colton Orr “might actually have been the worst full-time NHLer in the league this year.”

He followed up the claim with some statistics, all of the offensive variety (points, ice time and plus-mins). Mr. McCaig neglected to point out that New York was among the league leaders in fewest games lost to injury, something that has a lot to do with luck and a lot to do with Orr’s presence.

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Having one of the top enforcers in the game helped dissuade opposing teams from borderline or outright illicit actions against its players.

Case in point: Orr was taken out of the lineup for two playoff games and one of the opposition players felt he had the license to take out a Ranger. Would Orr’s presence have stopped Donald Brashear from breaking Blair Betts’ face? Not necessarily. But would Brashear have had other things to concern himself with while out on the ice had Orr been there? Certainly.

Just because a player couldn’t positively contribute to Mr. McCaig’s fantasy hockey team shouldn’t give him the right to slur one of the unsung heroes of the game.

Scott Olivenbaum, Commack, N.Y.