Jay Leach Is Growing On Me

Much to the detriment of my social standing throughout the years, I'm a big fan of now-defunct glam metal band The Darkness (and consequently, lead-singer Justin Hawkins' follow up project Hot Leg).

While some cite Hawkins' overzealous vocals as a dark reminder of the oversaturated and shameless fatuity that plagued the Sunset Strip throughout the 80's, it's hard to debate the honesty of his craft. Critics see him as nothing but a puppet in spandex, pandering to a crowd of aging and obviously inebriated has-beens hell bent on desperately clinging on the washed out memories of yesteryear, and yet it seems that this is nothing but an elaborate ruse, a commentary if you will, on the current state of society as a whole.

There's no need to develop a "revolutionary" image that changes the face of what is inherently a business, a business that will eventually box and package that very image into manageable portions until they are ready to be served at the dinner table after your hands are washed. Instead, the leopard leotards and shoulder length hair have become a buffer, not a selling point; those who don't desire to explore what, at face value, is a dying (dead?) breed of rock showmanship aren't invited to the party, a party that is, if one were to make egregiously bold comparisons, filled with such greats as Freddy Mercury and Eddie Van Halen.

It's a party that happened thirty years ago, but it's a party that never really died. And it's a party that never really will, even as it fritters away from the mainstream's consciousness into the warm arms of brothels and bars in Boondocks, USA.

The Darkness and Hot Leg may be shit or they may be gold; if nothing else, they're honest. It's cheap, it's crude, it's crass, it's carefree. But once you get past the price tag, you realize Hawkins is just here to play. And that's about as honest as it gets.

[Insert awkward transition into how Jay Leach exhibits the same characteristics as Hawkins in that once you look past the price tag he's honest and just here to play. The cleverly veiled song titles that aren't really about a woman he's in love with probably don't apply, but what are you going to do.]

As was briefly mentioned during the in-game thread yesterday, Jay Leach has slowly found his niche amongst a San Jose Sharks defensive unit that most have labeled a weak point for this team (don't forgot about the secondary scoring! Hello? Anybody?). While he's not going to go up against opposing team's top lines on a nightly basis like Marc-Edouard Vlasic, or bring the puck up on the rush like Dan Boyle, you'd be hard pressed to find another $243,750 defenseman in the league that, well who are we kidding, you just flat out would be hard pressed to find another $243,750 defenseman in the league period.

Along with the cheap price tag however, are assets Leach brings to the table-- he'll pressure the puck carrier at the blueline and force him to make a play (a trait the Sharks have had issues with over recent years); in the case of a forward who has some speed, he'll compensate by pressuring the forward a little less and steer the play towards the sideboards, trusting the likes of Nichol, Malhotra, Pavelski, and Marleau to pick up any trailers on the backcheck. When faced with a low cycle he won't futilely chase the puck behind the net, instead clearing the crease of any bodies and/or pucks that manage to find their way into the area surrounding the blue paint. Leach has got some reach too (being 6'4 definitely doesn't hurt), which means that those cross ice feeds that have backdoored Rob Blake this season aren't going to be an issue. Toss in a willingness to drop the gloves when a teammate has been accosted (see Mitchell, Torrey against the Oilers early this month) or when he feels like someone has taken a shot at him (see Simmonds, Wayne last night against LA), along with an ability to lay on the body without ever taking himself out of position, and you end up with a guy who is well worth the low price of admission.

Although the current cap climate makes this next wish akin to lighting a candle in the wind, it would be benificial to see Leach paired with Jason Demers for an extended period of time. He might be a better fit on that bottom pairing for all of the above reasons; his stay at home presence would allow Jason Demers to figure out how to dispell the demons of being a riverboat gambler with a tendency to make some ugly turnovers, because the potential to become a potent offensive force from the backend is already there.

If management doesn't find a way to upgrade the defensive unit by the time Trade Deadline 2010 toils it's final bell, causing the Worcester Salary Cap Shuttle to be finally rendered irrelevant, it will be interesting to see if a) Demers gets the call up for good and b) if Jay Leach manages to cement himself on that bottom pairing. He's made a case, thus far at least, that leaving him in the lineup as currently constructed isn't as far-fetched as it once seemed.

Just don't let DW near a checkbook in July-- next thing you know another middle-aged defenseman with less than 150 NHL games played will be inked to a two year $1.7 M deal, and we'll have to start the whole song and dance all over again.

Caution: Low-flying zingers!

Go Sharks.