Brandon Bollig knows the fighter, the true enforcer, is becoming the NHL’s version of a dinosaur. It’s nearing extinction, and the writing is on the wall: learn to do more in the game, get away from the one-dimensional.
To that end, Bollig has tried to hone his game, add more to it. He’ll never be a point-a-game guy, but his outing in Winnipeg on Saturday showed that Bollig has more than a pair of fists.
Bollig recorded his first multi-point game on Saturday, getting a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks’ 5-1 victory over the Jets. For Bollig, it’s about doing what got him here when he needs to. But with that enforcer-only player becoming a relic more by the day, Bollig knows he needs a multi-dimensional game.
“Obviously, the fighting part is very much a part of my game. But it’s no secret the game is changing and it has to be the right time and place to get the fight,” he said prior to the Blackhawks hosting the Calgary Flames on Sunday night. “If it’s not happening, then obviously it’s a bonus if I get a couple points. Hopefully you just find a way to contribute to a team, whether it’s fighting, getting points, playing defensively or whatever.”
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Coach Joel Quenneville has seen Bollig’s versatility bloom.
“Last year he really improved his overall game. We lot of trust in him defensively,” Quenneville said. “(That fourth line) had a nice role for us. We’re comfortable with them against anyone. Not being a one-dimensional tough guy, he added to his usefulness as a player. That line’s gotten more responsibility. He’s got a nice shot and offensively, his instincts are fine. You’re comfortable with him on the ice.”
It would be easy for a team to relegate Bollig to playing scant minutes, just have him look for a fight. But the Blackhawks like to give players a chance to round out their games, be it more minutes, special teams, whatever. Bollig has benefitted from that opportunity and appreciates it.
“It’s huge to get those minutes and have that responsibility with the coach trusting you,” he said. “My goal was to expand my role and my ice time, and that’s been happening so far. I’m looking to keep that going and not look back.”
Bollig also looked a little sleeker on Saturday. No, he didn’t lose weight; he shaved his mustache and beard to prep for November and, as he said, “not look too grizzly” for the Blackhawks’ visit to the White House on Monday.
“It’s for a good cause,” he said. “Obviously I had a good game last game, but I can’t wait to get the beard back already.”
All facial hair aside, the writing is on the wall in the NHL: the one-dimensional fighter is disappearing fast. Bollig’s got the chance to become more than that, and he’ll take it.
“The enforcer is being ousted from the game, so it’s nice (Quenneville) trusts me enough to get more minutes under my belt and more responsibilities,” Bollig said. “It’s ideal for me, and I’m looking to continue to progress.”