Darcy Hordichuk spent 12 NHL seasons dropping his gloves, using his fists to remind opponents of the cost for cheap shots at his teammates.
“I bring a physical presence,” Hordichuk said. “I've been known to throw my body around. I've had 285 career fights. I'm obviously not known for my goal scoring.”
That's an understatement.
Hordichuk, assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons two weeks ago by Edmonton, has 1,140 penalty minutes in 542 NHL games.
The left winger has scored only 41 career points. To put that in perspective Oilers' young star Jordan Eberle scored 51 points his three months with the Barons.
Now back in the American Hockey League for the first time in 10 years, Hordichuk wants to expand his game.
“At this level it's nice to see if you can chip in a couple (of goals) and hold onto the puck and be a little more patient,” Hordichuk said. “I can work on different things so I can help not only this team but when you get called up you're ready to go.”
Hordichuk, 32, frequently has been a healthy scratch his past NHL two seasons. He logged just eight minutes in four games this season with Edmonton. Most of his ice time went to younger players like former Barons Teemu Hartikainen, Magnus Paajarvi and Chris VandeVelde.
“He's been used mostly for that physical role but there's more to his game,” said general manager Bill Scott. “That's the benefit of coming down here. He can get more ice time and work on his all-around game rather than have one focus. This will help him become more of a complete player.”
Though scoreless in three games with the Barons, Hordichuk has helped the No. 4 line produce more scoring chances.
“With his reputation, he's made a name for himself so he gets more room to do things,” said coach Todd Nelson. “He's working his tail off here to improve his game.”
Hordichuk hasn't been to the penalty box with the Barons. Despite that, and recent rule changes minimizing the need for physical players, he said there will always be a place for hockey tough guys.
“Sometimes guys are getting picked on a little bit so you go over and let the other guy know they'll have to deal with me,” Hordichuk said. “I'm one of the guys who does the dirty work.
“I'll always play physical. If need be, and it's the right situation, I'm sure there will be a few of us that are looking to fight down here, too. But I'm here to help the young guys and work on my game.”
Hordichuk said he and several other veterans, including Josh Green, Brett Clark and Randy Jones, can provide leadership for a young team that has 14 players in their first three years of professional hockey. Clark and Hordichuk were Orlando teammates when the Solar Bears won the 2001 International Hockey League title.
“Veteran leadership is important,” Hordichuk said. “If you can get to the playoffs it definitely plays a factor to have guys that have been there, done that. It's still all about trying to win here.”
Scott said those traits are invaluable.
“For an NHL veteran like that to come down at this point in his career and have the attitude that he has says a lot about his character, the type of guy he is,” Scott said.
Hordichuk embraces the opportunity.
“I've proved I can fight. Now it's an opportunity to prove I can play a little bit, too. There are other ways I can get on the stat sheet.”
TEXAS STARS vs. BARONS
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Where: Cox Convention Center.
Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1, Jim Byers play-by-play.
Scouting report: Oklahoma City is in 12th place in the Western Conference but only four points out of eighth, the final playoff berth. The Stars lead the Western Conference and are the hottest team in the AHL. Texas is riding a five-game winning streak and is 11-1-3 over its last 14 games. ... Veteran forward Jonathan Cheechoo has scored 15 points in 11 games since signing with the Barons. Mark Arcobello (44 points) is the leading scorer on the Barons' roster. ... Matt Fraser leads Texas in scoring, and has 24 goals, but was called up to the Dallas Stars last week.