When Does A Team Cross the "We're Too Tough" Line?

The Oilers made a couple of additional depth moves (very depth) today by adding Jason Strudwick and Steve MacIntyre.

While one we saw coming, the other we could have logically figured wasn't a stretch based on two previously failed attempts by the Oilers to land a legit tough guy.

Both Strudwick and Big Mac have been Oilers before and both will be counted on to provide more than offence and defence. In fact, it's the likely reason both were signed -- their intangibles and not their hockey skill.

One will play as a 7th or 8th defenseman and one will play as a 13th or 14th forward, but neither brings much in terms of hockey skill and if either sees 50 games this year it would be a feat. Simply put, both players are here to help move forward in their own ways the kids that are expected to be the faces of the Oilers franchise.

The Hall's, Eberle's, Hemsky's, Gagner's, Svensson's and Cogliano's now have their big brothers. Kudos to the Oilers for looking after securing their superstars.

Strudwick who has been known to let the fists fly was signed mainly for his attitude as a professional, his desire to coach while playing and his leadership skills. He's loved in the dressing room, he's fantastic in the community and he's in many ways like a father-figure to some new NHL rookies. He's just what management wants these new guys to become and Strudwick's job is to help these rookies become professionals. MacIntyre was hired solely to punch people in the face when they looked at those rookies the wrong way.

I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with that. In fact, I'm for the legit heavyweight who makes the opposition slightly second guess taking a run at a star on your team. That person does more than fight. He gives your stars more swagger, he makes your middleweights more aggitators and penalty drawers and he gives everyone a sense of security -- even if by a statistical breakdown it can be proven he changes injuries and hits to stars in no way whatsoever.

I wonder though, when does addressing toughness go too far? Can a team sign too much toughness?

Of the four recent aquisitions (Foster, Vandermeer, MacIntyre and Strudwick) only one of these players -- Foster -- brings any potential for the Oilers to be a more skilled hockey team. There at some point has to be a fine line a team will walk between balancing skill, experience and raw talent vs adding toughness.

If one goes too far on either side that team can't win. Look at last years Oilers to see an example of trying to have too much skill. Look at last years Maple Leafs as a team with no skill and too much toughness. Is it any coincidence that both of those teams landed in the bottom two of thirty NHL teams?

I have no issues with the job Tambellini has done so far. With Vandermeer, MacIntyre, Stortini, Strudwick, Penner, Fraser, Peckham, Jones and Smid, this Oilers team now has plenty of players willing to drop the gloves. They'll be much harder to play against and that's a good thing.

Let's hope the next couple moves involve players that can put the puck in the net or win some faceoffs. Give the team a few more guys that your toughness can protect.


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