TAMPA, Fla. -- Talk about covering your assets.
One day after the Capitals called up AHL enforcer Joel Rechlicz and his 657 career penalty minutes, the Tampa Bay Lightning recalled tough guy Pierre-Cedric Labrie and his 430 career penalty minutes.
Rechlicz is expected to make his Capitals debut tonight in the Tampa Bay Times Forum in place of Jay Beagle. The Lightning are debating whether to start Labrie, a 6-foot-218-pounder who five years ago worked the overnight shift at a convenience store and has been nicknamed Nacho Libre by his teammates.
Either way, Rechlicz, a muscular 6-foot-4, 220-pounder from just outside Milwaukee, will be looking to strike fear into the Tampa bench. And that means you can set your watch on when the gloves will come off.
You know when the right time to do it is, Rechlicz said after Tuesdays morning skate.
You never want to put your team down with a bad penalty. You have to be smart about the choices you make on the ice.
Rechlicz, nicknamed "Wrecker," has gotten in a fight in seven of the 23 NHL games hes played and says he sees the difference in the way the game is played when hes in the lineup compared to when he is not, saying physical intimidation is still very much a part of hockey.
I think its a big part of the game and will always be a big part o the game, said Rechlicz (pronounced RECK-litch). Just having somebody (tough) on the bench keeps guys in check, keeps guys in line and keeps them from maybe taking some liberties on some of the skill guys out there. I think its a huge part of the game.
When tough guys are out of the lineup, guys play a little bigger on opposing teams. Usually, when youve got a tough guy on your side, guys on your team feel more comfortable and play a little bigger.
Thats precisely the reason the Capitals recalled Rechlicz and are willing to put him in the lineup tonight, even if it is for just a handful of shifts.
When you go into another building you need a physical presence, Capitals coach Dale Hunter said, and he definitely has it.