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Merlin401 04-23-2011 04:28 PM

2010-11 Crowder Award: Rookie of the Year
After a solid rookies class the year before, 2010-11 also gave us some excellent choices and what I expect to be a fairly lively debate over the best new fighter in the NHL.


Kyle Clifford - Los Angeles Kings
Clifford took over as the tough guy for the Kings and had a banner first year, collecting 18 fights. Although he suffered a few monster shots to the face (i.e. in a late season fight with Sheldon Brookbank), he had a very successful fighting enforcing record for the Kings, including big wins over Brad Staubitz, Derek Dorsett, Kyle Chipchura and Daniel Carcillo. He also added an excellent fight with Shawn Thornton, probably fighting him to a draw.

Deryk Engelland - Pittsburgh Penguins
Engelland got called up and had his first full year for the surprisingly scrappy Penguins, and the muscle was needed given the rivalries that they would induce during the season. Engelland got off to a brilliant start, beating Colton Orr in a tremendous fight that ended in a TKO win. When the rematch came around, Engelland showed it was no fluke by beating Orr again. The rest of his solid 13 fight performance included big wins over Jody Shelley and a devastating knockout of Taylor Pyatt. He was involved in the big Islanders brawls but got himself ejected for a third-man-in penalty without recording a fight.

Micheal Haley - New York Islanders
Haley, the first of two Islanders on the list, had one of the most memorable season debuts of all time when he was called up for the grudge match with Pittsburgh and fought three times to become a cult hero: first beating up Craig Adams, then jumping Maxime Talbot in a revenge fight that got him suspended, and finally skating the length of the ice to get revenge on goalie Brent Johnson in defense of his injured goalie. He also added big wins over fighters on all the Islanders biggest rivals: Adam Mair in New Jersey, Sean Avery on the Rangers, and Dan Carcillo of the Flyers! Talk about making the most of your opportunities!

Matt Martin - New York Islanders
A scrappy winger called up on the poor Islanders squad who helped to define the rough-and-tumble personality for the team. He collected 13 fights and, although he did not have great success in his decisions (unless he was beating up on Zack Smith). He also got involved in the Pittsburgh madness by jumping Maxime Talbot.

Adam McQuaid - Boston Bruins
Although he played 19 games last year without getting involved physically too much, McQuaid had a fine first full year with the Bruins as a tough defenseman, netting 15 points, 12 fights, and 98 penalty minutes. His highlight was putting a major TKO hurting on Brian Sutherby in a spring game, while beating up Matt Bradley and having a good fight with Arron Asham. He looks to be a solid defenseman in this league.

Kevin Westgarth - Los Angeles Kings
The 6'4" winger finally got a chance to play in the NHL taking over part time fighting duties with the Kings alongside Clifford. He struggled with the better heavyweights and more experienced fighters in the league, losing to John Scott twice and the grizzled Chris Neil, but otherwise he did a nice job, beating Cam Janssen and giving D.J. King a good fight.

My pick

My heart wants to give this to Haley, but he only had fights in 5 games, due to lack of opportunity. Clifford did a very nice job with a consistent starting role and good volume, but the man who made the most noise as a heavyweight was certainly Deryk Engelland in my mind.

Previous winners

2003-04: Andrew Peters
2005-06: Brian McGrattan
2006-07: D.J. King
2007-08: Riley Cote
2008-09: B.J. Crombeen
2009-10: Matt Carkner

Rotorhead 06-03-2011 07:00 PM

You can take Westgarth off that list... The day he lost to Paul Gaustad was the day he showed his abilities...

Clifford fought more times than he should have because of Westgarth and I hope to hell his health doesn't go into the ****ter because of it...

Engelland is very polished and strong as an ox... Clifford, once he gets his chops going and learns to be a little more defensive during a a fight he'll be as good as Engelland if not better... kid is a man...

McQuaid will be a good one too..

kam 06-03-2011 07:16 PM

i like what I saw with Adam McQuaid and Haley.

ocrage 06-03-2011 07:38 PM

my vote goes to clifford. hes 19 and beating out fully developed men.

Killah_punk 06-03-2011 10:12 PM

Gotta go with DE as he was an undersized HW and finished in most peoples Top 10 this past season. None of the other fighters cracked the Top 10.

Wild_KO King 06-04-2011 12:46 AM

Clifford had an amazing year, especially for being so young, but it's hard to go against Engel.

Sapunka16 06-04-2011 12:51 AM

This should be a simple choice; which of these players clearly beat two fighters who had been in this site's official top ten list at the start of this season?

None of the other options come close to doing what Engelland has done.

slashtrey 06-04-2011 12:58 AM

Best lineup of rookie fighters in recent years by far. My vote goes to Haley as I got to witness 4 of his fights live. He's fun to watch.

skacore 06-04-2011 01:31 AM

Engelland is the clear choice here as well.

It's hard to not want to pick Clifford or Martin though. Both of these guys are going to have solid careers in the NHL and put up plenty of PIM along with some decent point totals. Engelland's fight card was just too tough to beat IMO.

29th_Candidate 06-04-2011 04:09 AM


In the few games he played in the show this year, he racked up more fights (7) than many enforcers accumulated over the course of a season (not to mention another 12 fights in the AHL before he was called up), and each one of them was an entertaining, dominating punch-fest.

schlado 06-04-2011 09:31 AM

Clifford. He's game and he's tough. I'd go with Engelland if he hasn't been up for a few cup of coffees already.

Isles4life 06-04-2011 01:43 PM

It's hard to argue that Deryk Engelland had the best season of any first-year NHLer. But when there are other good options, I prefer to vote for a guy that would be considered a rookie by Calder standards as well, which Engelland is not because of his age.

Kyle Clifford had a tremendous start to his rookie season, giving us some entertaining bouts and a solid record. He ran into some trouble later on in the year, eating some big punches, but I thought his full body of work did enough to establish him as the rookie fighter of the year.

diablo 06-04-2011 03:17 PM

Kyle Clifford, very good season:approve:

NJDevils17 06-04-2011 03:20 PM

While everyone on here is a strong candidate, I had to go with Kyle Clifford. The fact that he jumped right from juniors where he was fighting 17-18 year old kids to fighting in the NHL where he's fighting much bigger, more experienced guys in their 20s and 30s makes me vote for him.

Don't get me wrong, everyone on this list had a hell of a rookie campaign, but all those other guys had more preparation for fighting guys in the NHL because they all had played in the AHL.

V12_Bi-Turbo 06-04-2011 06:54 PM

I voted for Engell. That Orr fight was a WOW moment and in several other fights he was mor than impressive.

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