He doesn't mesh with Modano. I've gone over this in depth. Modano and Cleary fit well together because of their speed, and because Cleary's natural style is to pick up rebounds, which Modano might produce more of than anyone else on the team. Modano and Hudler don't work because of the speed difference, and because Modano is big on keeping the puck through the neutral zone while Hudler's style is about puck movement. In the offensive zone Modano's style is to put the puck on net any chance he sees, while Hudler's is a much more patient style.
As I have said a hundred times, Hudler and Flip complement each other greatly. Flip is an excellent puckhandler who has a similar, patient mind in the offensive zone and allows Hudler to excel, and Hudler's offensive talents have been shown over and over in the past to bring out the best offensive ability in Flip.
Why you WOULDN'T put them together is the bigger question. It's not a Dats/Z situation where you are questioning whether you have to have them split up...they simply should be together. And that's it.
I'm all for theories on how to make people produce, but the question isn't "Will Hudler Produce more if he is on a line with Flip". The question is, "Who will produce the best on a line with Flip?"
Are you honestly telling me that our highest plus/minus player (Bert), and our leading Goal Scorer (Mule), should go down to the third line so Hudler can play on the second line instead? The second line currently has about 17 goals in 19 games (Based on the three forwards who usually play it, not including defensive contribution). Hudler has 1 goal in 16 games.
To an extent, you juggle people around to see if they will mesh with another player, but you do not break-up a very productive line just to "See" what will happen.
In the real hockey world, here is how it "really" works:
1) You play 3rd or 4th line time. If you excel on those lines (Hudler has not), then you vie for a spot on the 2nd line.
2) In order to qualify for a spot on the second line, you generally have to produce equal to or greater than someone already on the second line. (Hudler has not, not even close).
3) If you have a little freedom, you juggle things a bit (Babcock did). If you find chemistry great, if not, you try it for a few games and then go back to what worked. (Hudler failed when he was juggled, too).
4) If you do not crack the third line, but stay on par for 3rd or 4th line (Hudler currently, is not), you go back to those lines.
5) If you have minor league players schooling you nightly (Hudler does), you go sit on the bench.
6) Twiddle your thumbs, until an injury or a slumping player arises. Get a second chance. (Hudler is here now).
Your bias toward Hudler has you thinking not in terms of what is best for the team, but in what is best for Hudler. It's very simple: If Hudler is not the best for this team, we cannot keep making changes to find what is best for Hudler. If a quarter of a season isn't enough for him to find a working line-mate, juggling him some more is just pissing in the wind.
Who is Hudler currently better than? Abdelkader? Abbey is beating him in points with less games played, can lay out hits, agitate, fight, and works hard every single shift. We will see Abbey on the second line before we see Hudler there.
Modano? When it comes to leadership, Hudler would get schooled by Modano. When it comes to puck possession, Hudler is craftier, but Modano can take a hit and not flop out of the play. He, also, is outscoring Hudler at the age of 40.
Cleary? Our other leading goal scorer?
Hudler doesn't have a spot on the 1st line obviously. He can't really fill Flips spot, and I wouldn't want him on the second line over Bertuzzi or Mule on any night.
What about the fourth line?
Miller-Helm-Eaves Both Miller and Eaves are bringing just as much offensive contribution as Hudler has brought. Unlike Miller, Helm, and eaves, Hudler is not a Penalty Killer. Your fourth line is largely used in penalty kills, so anyone who is on it needs to be good at Penalty killing. Hudler is not. Helm is invaluable for his PK experience, and this fourth line of ours goes toe to toe with any other 4th line in the league, no problem. You simply cannot put Hudler on this line. This line has a purpose, and the additional tasking of providing penalty killers. You can't just squeeze Hudler into a line that is designed to play completely the opposite of Hudler's play style.
So where exactly does Hudler fit in? Who do you bench for Hudler? Who do you juggle? How do you justify taking someone who is producing (See all 12 forwards, except Hudler), and replacing one of them? Why take either our leading goal scorer, or leading +/- guy off a line with Flip, to "test" out Hudler. Sure, if Bert of Franzen were sucking too, I'd be all for it.
But that's the point. Hudler is sucking. They are not.