Years ago when he was subjected to game after game of Douglas Murray, Olivier Bouchard coined the term “big and hitty” to describe defencemen who are big and hit people. They might be able to direct the puck towards the net sometimes and they might sometimes surprise you with a great breakout pass or maybe even a spin-o-rama, but for the most part, they hit guys and handle the puck like a grenade.
This is the category that Ben Chiarot falls into. He is not as bad as Mark Stuart was or Douglas Murray, but he is far from good and is a detriment to the Jets. It is easy to see why people think he is playing well though. He uses his size to hit players and from early on players who are big and hitty are seen as assets to a team.
Not all players who are big and hit guys are big and hitty. A player like Dustin Byfuglien is not a big and hitty guy because he brings so much more to a team then his hitting. In fact, when Byfuglien hits guys too much, he because a detriment to the team because he is not focused on those other things. On the same hand, a player can struggle and not be big and hitty. Take Joe Morrow for example. Morrow is fine as a 7/8 defenceman. He tends to struggle when he has to repeatedly play a role that is more than this. It is what led to his difficulties with the Montreal Canadiens. Not being played in the correct role is not the player’s fault, but they will struggle because of it.
Ben Chiarot should probably come out of the lineup. Not because he had one bad game, but because he is not the best style of defenceman for the modern NHL. He is big and hitty. He is not a “bad” defenceman like Morrow who can bring some offence, but is just terribly inconsistent defensively nor is he a multifaceted like Byfuglien.
In the end, big and hitty defencemen are on the way out in the NHL, just like enforcers. It is fine for a player like Chiarot to be a 7/8 defenceman, but when there is a long-term injury the Jets should probably start using other players as regulars. Hopefully Toby Enstrom is healthy enough to play tonight and possibly Tucker Poolman or even, gasp, Sami Niku. Whatever happens with the Jets lineup take solace in the fact that if the Jets had a healthy defence Chiarot and Morrow would not be playing and the Jets would not have any players playing who are simply big and can hit people.