Enforcer brings camp roster of forwards to 37
By LOU KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues' roster was chalk full of forwards that received an unexpected addition on Tuesday.
Call it an addition of muscle.
Enforcer Paul Bissonnette, known during his NHL career as one of the guys that is on the ice to throw down the gloves when things get chippy, has been invited by the Blues to join training camp on a tryout basis.
The 29-year-old Bissonnette, who spent the past five seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, gives the Blues 37 forwards as they head towards the opening of training camp on Friday.
Once adversaries, Ryan Reaves (left) and Paul Bissonnette could be
teammates for the Blues in 2014-15. Bissonnette will come to Blues
camp on a tryout basis.
"They've got a pretty heavy team up front and a lot of skill," Bissonnette said. "I know 'Hitch' (Blues coach Ken Hitchcock) plays a pretty defensive system. I'd say it's pretty similar to the way (Arizona coach Dave) Tippett coaches. And I guess they're probably the only team that had me come to camp. That kind of worked out that way. I'm excited to be here. It's a really, really good group of guys and it's exciting.
"Doug Armstrong reached out to my agent. He said to come in and try out, 'we think this would be a good fit for you.' In saying that, I know I have to come in and make the team. I don't know if there's even spots available, but nonetheless, showcase and try to make the team."
Bissonnette, who gas 22 points in 202 regular season games, has 340 penalty minutes. He doesn't play the bigger minutes some forwards do but they are mostly used for protection of a team's players with a big role.
He could potentially join Ryan Reaves on a team that now has plenty of beef to offer protection.
"Yeah, he's a big boy, he's tough," Bissonnette said of Reaves. "He got the best of me last year. He's really established himself as a good power forward in this league. I think the stigma of just being a goon has kind of gone in this game. He can throw them with the best of them and get around out there and put up some points and just kind of wear down clocks. He's a good player.
"It's tough because they've got a really established enforcer in Reaves. In saying that, they've (also) got a lot of skill up front. You can never have enough guys to protect them. I'll just come in and do my thing. If it fits, then I'll stick around. If not, nonetheless, thank you for the opportunity."
Reaves, who fought Bissonnette twice (once in 2011 and again in 2013), doesn't mind having another tough guy around.
"It never hurts having another guy like that here," Reaves said. "It's always fun to have that little bit of competition. He's another tough guy, so I'm sure we can work on some stuff together."
Bissonnette, who goes by @BizNasty2point0 on Twitter with 570,000-plus followers, could net himself a one- or two-way contract if he impresses. He comes in with no commitment in tow.
"As far as comfort's concerned, it would have been nice to go into a team and know that's going to be your home," Bissonnette said. "That's part of our job, part of what comes with it. I'll take the opportunity and try to make the best of it.