Turns out there's still a place for the one-dimensional tough guy in hockey.
It just happens to be in Sweden.
Saying he was looking to “add a little spice” to his lineup, MODO assistant GM Peter Forsberg struck a blow for old-time hockey by signing 42-year-old enforcer Donald Brashear to a one-year deal with his Swedish Hockey League club.
Yes, Sweden. The last bastion for the goon. Wait'll Don Cherry hears about this.
With several younger NHL brawlers cut loose during the off-season, Brashear might seem like an odd choice. The veteran skated in more than 1,000 NHL games, including several alongside Forsberg in Philadelphia, but hasn't played in the league since finishing a 36-game stint with the New York Rangers back in 2009-10. He's kept busy since then by playing in the semi-pro LNAH and training as an MMA fighter.
Not exactly the resume of a modern possession-focused player, but Forsberg says his expectations for Brashear are realistic.
“We don't need him to score 50 goals,” Forsberg told Malin Wahlberg of Aftonbladet. “But he is a player that we lack. A guy who goes out and takes control. We haven't had an aggressive player like him, so it'll be fun to see what he can do.”
Admittedly, an enforcer might not be a top priority if his club were in a different position. MODO is one of the legendary franchises in Swedish hockey, a two-time league champion that developed several future superstars through the years, including Forsberg, Markus Naslund and the Sedin twins. But the club has fallen on tough times of late, and relegation is looking like a real possibility. MODO has won just seven of 24 games so far this season and sits 11th in the 12-team SHL.
Forsberg, who serves as the team's assistant GM under Naslund, notes that MODO ices a comparatively young roster, including 2014 first rounders William Nylander (Toronto) and Adrian Kempe (Los Angeles) along with a pair of 16-year-olds, so the results aren't entirely unexpected.
Still, he feels the kids could contribute more if they felt a little more ... comfortable. Having a 6'-2", 225-pound veteran of more than 200 NHL fights on his roster might help.
“We've had a lot of injuries and challenges because we are a very young team,” Forsberg said. “Now with Donald, it is safe to [play our game]. He knows why he's here. He can't just go out and fight, but he'll keep teams honest. It should be a little harder to beat us. It may be a bit feisty, and Donald will hopefully pay the price and help us to win."
Forsberg says Brashear is in "incredibly good shape" and is very excited to join the club. "He has never played in Europe and wanted to try it."
It won't be his first time protecting Swedes, either. Before clearing the track for Forsberg in Philly, Brashear played bodyguard for Naslund and the Sedins in Vancouver.
There's no date set yet for Brashear's MODO debut, but Forsberg said he was unlikely to be in the lineup for the team's game on Friday.