No matter the makeup of their squad, every team needs player who steps up for the team. No matter whether such players are on the first or fourth line, it is important to highlight these unsung heroes.
For many of these guys, they are players whose name and number aren’t usually seen on the backs of the fans’ jerseys. Star players are important to the team’s success and the financial success of the franchise, but third and fourth liners who work as hard as possible on every shift deserve equal if not more credit. They have the heart and enthusiasm to work hard even though they aren’t receiving all the glory.
The 2013-14 Bill Masterton winner, Dom Moore, is a heart and soul player. He plays with his heart on his sleeve every night. After returning to the Rangers following the traumatic death of his wife, Moore asserted himself as one of the NHL’s top fourth liners. Throughout the season, thanks to his perseverance, Moore earned minutes with top players like Marty St. Louis. In the Stanley Cup final versus the Los Angeles Kings, Moore’s hard work paid off; he established himself as a solid go-to center for the Rangers.
The Detroit Red Wings’ Darren Helm has been in and out of the lineup for the last few years due to numerous injuries. However, when he has been in, Helm has demonstrated tremendous skill and work ethic. He can often be seen busting his butt to get up the ice on offense or beelining back into his own zone to play defense. A versatile player, Helm can penalty kill, power play, and skate five-on-five. While he has never been a prolific point scorer, Helm averages a respectable one point per every 2.8 games.1 Helm is also a plus three for his entire NHL career.
While only two players have been highlighted here, there are many players around the NHL who are invaluable members of their respective franchises despite not being big name players. To say “every chain is only as strong as their weakest link” may be cliche, but it is true. The line on which you play does not define you as a player.
It takes skill and hard work to be a grinder, and while it is often unrecognized, many superstars in the NHL do not have the skill to play in the style of a grinder. Every player on a team is equally as important. For a fan, it may be easier to only acknowledge players who are viewed as “game-changers”. However, whether or not a player is contributing with goals, blocked shots, or by providing mental support and sticktoitiveness; they are still important to the team.