So I've been seeing a handful of comments here and there about the purpose of having Francis Lessard on the bench or on the roster. I would like to briefly and concisely state my opinion on his role as well as the roles of other brute enforcers in the league. It's no secret that Frank is not the most skilled hockey player out there -- in fact he looks leagues removed from being an impactful player in almost any facet in the NHL. His job, pure and simple, is to "enforce". He's an enforcer. What does an enforcer do? He makes sure people don't take liberties with the light guys on your team. Now I've seen it justified that since he doesn't play with the softies (i.e. Spezza), how can he protect them? I'll tell you -- with his threatening presence. You say: "well any player can just decline a fight"... I say, "can any player decline an intentional hit to the head or intentional boarding?"... in most cases, no. Frank is the type of player, one of many in the league, who are basically given a 750k salary with the expectation to do something stupid in retaliation and get suspended in the process... making it more like 500k. BUT! If they weren't willing to act like idiots, they'd be getting 75k in the minors... Look at Trevor Gillies on the Islanders. Now I know he's not retaliating, but what is his purpose, really? Two back to back 10 game suspensions for intentional boarding. When he comes back and he's on the ice, don't you think that every single damned person on the opposing bench is going to be thinking "Jesus Christ there's that dickhead who's been wrecklessly ruining people's careers... don't piss him off"? I'm not saying it's a good thing one way or the other, but this is their role, such as it is, and it seems to be very important for every team to have at least one.
Afterthought -- Also, Chris Neil does NOT fit that mold as he is relied upon much more for actually playing hockey as well. He throws big hits, screens the goalie well, works well along the boards, decent on the forecheck... He's a true grinder/fighter, not just a goon. I should not even have to mention Carkner's worth (I hope not anyways, as I'm a huge fan of Big Country) in defending him from pure goon-ism as well.