There are a lot of phrases used to describe different kinds of hockey players. There is the “can’t miss prospect,” “offensively gifted forward” or “stay-at-home defenceman.”
To me, the word that means the most is “character.” And that’s where forward Connor Crisp fits in.
Last Saturday night, Crisp was like a player possessed. For a stretch of five minutes in the second period, it seemed he was on the ice the whole time.
He scored two goals and assisted on the game winner, as the Wolves beat the Mississauga Steelheads 6-5 in overtime.
It’s that kind of performance that prompted the Wolves to go out and make the deal to bring Crisp and Jimmy McDowell to Sudbury from the Erie Otters. While the Pack has plenty of players who can put the puck in the net, at the time they were lacking that “character” type player who isn’t afraid to mix it up to make things happen.
Wolves fans got used to watching Michael Kantor and his never-say-die attitude of going after the puck.
Crisp brings that mentality to the rink every day with his 6-4, 225-pound frame and maybe adds even a little more offence.
With six goals and seven assists for 13 points with a plus-seven rating after just 11 games, he is on pace for a career year. Add in 37 penalty minutes and there is isn’t any part of Crisp’s game that doesn’t seem to be in mid-season form.
It’s numbers like those that led the Montreal Canadiens to draft Crisp in the third round this year. Passed over in 2012 after a shoulder injury limited him to just six games, Crisp put up some decent numbers last season on a bad Erie Otters team.
The Canadiens invited Crisp to stick around for the main camp. Word out of Montreal is that his physical game impressed many, but almost as important was his defensive ability and his understanding that he has to be responsible in his own zone to be an all-round contributor.
He doesn’t like to talk about it much anymore, but there is another example of what kind of player Crisp is.
It was March 2012 and Crisp was working his way back from that shoulder injury. He was with the Otters on a trip into Niagara, listed as the back-up goalie. Starter Ramis Sadikov was injured early in the game, so the call went out to Crisp who was in the stands watching the game.
Next thing he knew, he was in the dressing room strapping on the pads and getting direction from the team’s goalie coach.
He gave up 13 goals on 45 shots, but that wasn’t the story. Here was a kid coming off a pretty bad shoulder injury, but was still willing to go into a very difficult situation to help out his team.
Just another example of the type of character Crisp brings to the Wolves, day-in and day-out.
Stew Kernan is the radio and television voice of the Sudbury Wolves, and the News Director at KiSS 105.3 and Q92. This column appears every other week in Northern Life.