BLOG: Would Gillies really be what Clan need?

As time ticks along in the Elite League off-season, the rumour mill continues to go crazy, and in the west of Scotland one name has cropped up for the second consecutive year – Trevor Gillies.

The 6’3″ Canadian is nearing the end of his career and is one of the most notorious names in ice hockey due to his multiple NHL suspensions.

The enforcer has featured in 57 NHL games but only managed to tally up three points, playing no more than eight minutes in a single game.

The majority of Gillies’ career has been spent in the minor leagues in North America – or, more specifically, in the penalty box.

The feared fighter boasts an impressive résumé having gone toe-to-toe with just about every tough guy who’s ever laced up a pair of skates, including multiple bouts with Nottingham Panthers’ enforcer Cam Janssen.

Social media has been rife with rumours that Braehead are interested in bringing Gillies across the Atlantic, but is he really the missing piece of Clan’s title contention puzzle?

Travis Hughes, editor of SBNation.com, wrote in an 2014 article: “Trevor Gillies does not belong in professional hockey. He is not an effective hockey player, but he is a danger to his opponents.”

The 2014/15 Elite League season was one where the Clan had arguably their most physical team ever and missed out on a championship by a single point.

Many looked to point fingers and believed that the downfall of this side was they were too aggressive.

Last year saw a much more reserved approach and the team finished in third place – five points off top spot.

Others argued that had the team had a Fitzgerald-esque (Zack Fitzgerald) player, the Clan would’ve been able to clinch the title.

With a guy like Trevor Gillies, teams know exactly what they’re getting – a forward who’s played over 800 professional hockey games and scored less than 20 goals.

He’s made a career out of smashing heads on the ice (quite literally – it earned him a twelve game ban in the AHL) and is a guy that people would pay money to see.

Who wouldn’t want to go and see their team play while their ‘goon’ runs around beating everyone up? You would much rather your team beat everybody up than being on the flip side.

These guys are unique attractions in our sport.

However, in the modern day players need to be more than one dimensional which is largely why enforcers are gradually being shunned.

Players like Fitzgerald or Matt Nickerson get the crowd going, become fan favourites and have opponents shaking in their skates, but at the same time they know how to play the game of hockey.

They’ve adapted their game throughout their careers and have the ability to both play and fight – Trevor Gillies does not appear to have that ability.

Playing for the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL last year, the forward only managed to score two points in 46 games.

Compare that to Kevin Westgarth who ended his career with the Belfast Giants. His final season in the NHL saw him tally seven points in 36 games.

After moving to Belfast Westgarth was mocked by Elite League fans for his career going downhill.

Despite being one of the best enforcers of our generation, he scored almost a point every two games for the Giants.

A warrior on the ice, Westgarth demonstrated that he was able to put up points and play a bit of hockey.

As the Elite League gets tougher and tougher, teams need guys who have the ability to step up to the plate when things get physical.

A fine balance is needed between players who can out-skill and out muscle their opponents, but it leaves a lot to the imagination to think that Trevor Gillies would be the answer to Braehead’s title aspirations.

Attendances are already soaring and bums are already on seats, so it will be interesting to see how the Clan assemble their roster ahead of the 2016/17 season.

Will they look to utilise having an out-and-out goon on their roster, or will they continue to try and have a best of both approach?

So far, Clan have only announced the return of two players – captain Matt Keith and forward Bari McKenzie.

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