by PuckStopsHere on 12/15/11 at 08:03 PM ET
One thing I try to figure out as I follow an NHL season is which player, who is earning a regular shift, has been the worst player so far this season. In the early parts of this season it has been a goalie; most recently Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets has this dishoner. He has had over a month to improve his case. He suffered a head injury in practise and went almost a month between starts. Curtis Sanford took over in goal for the Blue Jackets and did a pretty solid job. Eventually Mason would return. He played a strong game winning against Vancouver on Monday night. I think he has played well enough to remove himself from worst player in the league status, though he has not been having a strong season.
My current pick for worst regular so far this season is a depth player who regularly dresses and has not done anything positive in his playing time. By season’s end, this is usually the kind of player who is the worst regular in the season. My current pick is Chris Thorburn of the Winnipeg Jets.
Thorburn has played in all 30 Jets games so far. He averages slightly over ten minutes of fourth line time. He has produced no goals and one assist in that time. He has a -10 +/- rating to show for that time. The most memorable thing Thorburn has done this season is get into a couple of fights.
Over his career he has been more than the goon his numbers suggest this season. He has never been a big scorer but he scored 19 points (a career best) last season. Thorburn has been in the NHL since 2006. He has 72 points in his 384 career games, which shows a lack of any significant scoring ability, but it has been better than this in the past.
Thorburn is a hard working popular player. He is exactly the kind of player who becomes the worst regular in the league. He is the kind of player who coaches love to play because of how hard they work. The problem is he is not producing. He is hard to pull from the lineup because his hard work makes him a role model, but he isn’t helping his team. Winnipeg would be better served getting Chris Thorburn out of the lineup and getting somebody more productive in his spot.
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