I came out hard against Tootoo at several points during the offseason and lockout, and a lot of people disagreed with me. I don't think much has happened since the season started that could be used to justify his $1.9 million AAC. On the other hand, when he's actually been on the ice and playing hockey, it's not like his play has been terrible enough that I can point to that and go: "See!! I won the argument!".
I still think his game is a joke. The Wings have acquired PLENTY of players that I hated as opponents, but quickly respected once they became Wings. Chelios, Brett Hull, and Bertuzzi come to mind. But there's the key difference there - those guys were all skilled hockey players, not one-dimensional cheap shot artists and agitators. I would argue that the Wings haven't employed trash like this since the days of Sean Avery. (A note on that: Avery in the early days was a total a-hole, but this was before "sloppy seconds", fashion internships, and waving the stick in front of goaltender's faces - he was actually a somewhat popular player at the time, but management saw what was coming with him and moved him before he ever had the chance to embarass us).
The big picture here is that we gave a 3-year deal and borderline Top 6 forward money to a guy whose only marketable "skill appears" to be an odious reputation. In other words, any garbage AHL'er making $750,000 a year could just decide tomorrow that they wanted to act like Jordin Tootoo, and they'd have that same reputation within a year or two. He's lucky if he plays 8 minutes a game on the 4th line. And I'm sorry, but you can't be considered an "enforcer" when you're 5'9" and pretty much every known "enforcer" around the league is about two weight classes above you. He scares nobody, but annoys everyone, and therefore, does nothing to enhance the effectiveness of the team, while tarnishing the Red Wings brand.
I've said this time and time again, but the idea that you can improve team toughness by throwing guys on the 4th line who do nothing but fight (or cheap shot) is absurd. "Toughness" is having power forwards like Shanahan, Holmstrom, or Franzen that do the dirty work to keep the puck. It's having skilled forwards like Zetterberg and Datsyuk are aren't huge players, but are willing to throw a shoulder into you in the corner. And it's about having defensemen who stick up for their goaltender and move guys physically when they have to, rather than running guys behind the play and getting caught out of position.
I'm not going keep hating on Tootoo for the duration of his contract because Babcock's use of him shows that he already agrees with me. In terms of playing time and doing things that actually impact the scoreboard, he's already less important than guys like Tatar, Andersson, and Emmerton. He just happens to make more than those guys.
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