Whistles are blowing in the crowd at Bridgestone Arena as Jordin Tootoo hits the ice and seemingly takes a run at every Red Wings player in his path during one of his many infamous, irritating, frenzied, and hard hitting shifts. As Central Division rivals with Tootoo since the 2003-2004 season, Hockeytown is quite familiar with his infuriating on ice antics. Standing at 5’9 and 199lbs Tootoo is a stocky bona fide tough guy whose primary duties will include keeping the flies off all-stars Datsyuk and Zetterberg, while simultaneously provoking all opponents.
Yet, unlike some other NHL enforcers, Tootoo is an agile skater who can contribute at both ends of the rink. His most productive NHL season came in 2007-2008 with the Predators when he notched 11 goals, 8 assists, and 100 penalty minutes in 62 games. As an 18-year-old with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League Tootoo was a gifted offensive talent who scored 35 goals in a single season. However, in order to stick it out in the big league Tootoo was forced to carve out his own niche. He has earned the reputation as a super pest willing to throw hands with all comers, but also as a player who can chip in with the odd timely goal. Nevertheless, similar to former Red Wings enforcers Bob Probert and Darren McCarty, Tootoo’s off ice struggles are also well documented. In addition, last season Tootoo found himself in the coach’s doghouse when Barry Trotz regularly banished him to a seat high above the ice in the press box. Fortunately for the Red Wings, Tootoo seems to have put all of his demons behind him and appears motivated to reignite his career with a fresh start in Detroit.
Tootoo undoubtedly provides a presence the Wings have been lacking in their line-up. With his addition, the days of teams taking liberties with the Wings’ best players without fear of reprisal have officially come to an end. The “Tootoo Train” has rolled down the tracks to Hockeytown and will provide that grit and tenacity Wings fans have longed for since the departures of Maltby and McCarty. In fact, if Tomas Holmstrom is to return to the Motor City for yet another net crashing season he will have a serious challenger in the category of opposing teams most hated player. Red Wings fans everywhere will certainly look forward to watching this competition unfold.