The thought of Jamie Devane playing his role at a higher level may bring more fear to his opponents.
Born and raised in Mississauga, Ont., Devane grew up a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and was drafted by the the club in the third round of the 2009 National Hockey League draft.
Now entering his second year with the Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs’ minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League, he understands what role he needs to play.
“I think I need to be a hard player to play against, said Devane after practising at the Ricoh Coliseum. “Being a nuisance to the other team, skate faster, protect pucks and obviously play really well defensively.”
The 22-year-old made his NHL debut Oct. 5 in Toronto’s 5-4 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators.
Listed at six-foot five and 220 pounds, he certainly has the build to play a bruising style of hockey. Part of that style includes dropping the gloves, an aspect of the game that he is willing to do as long as it’s for the right reasons.
“I don’t really like the whole staged fighting thing, but sticking up for my teammates and stuff like that is the kind of fighting I’m for.”
He recalls the first time he gave it a thought.
“It was in the USHL [United States Hockey League] during a tryout. I remember someone asked me [to consider fighting] and it never had even crossed my mind before and the coach looked at me and said, ‘sure try it.’
“I did it pretty well and started trying it in junior and wasn’t too bad at it.”
That might be a bit of an understatement.
Devane had two fights with the Leafs during the pre-season and did quite well. His first came on Sept. 19 against the Ottawa Senators when heavyweight Matt Kassian challenged him after he had stood up Senators forward Derek Grant with a good body check.
Held his own
He held his own and battled Kassian to a draw.
His second fight came three days later against the Buffalo Sabres where he got the best of forward Corey Tropp.
Playing a physical style of hockey and mentally preparing for a potential combatant has to be the most difficult part to play in hockey, but Devane takes it in stride.
“It doesn’t really cross my mind as much as some people might think, and a lot of the time he’s probably thinking the same thing about me over there.
“Coming into the game you’ve got to impose your will on the other team. You don’t always have to go after the other guy, sometimes you have to make him come after you.”
“I think there’s a place for it and there always will be,” he said.” A lot of guys in the room have talked about it and they couldn’t see [the game played] without it.
“I think if you took fighting out of the game you would probably see an increase in dirty plays.”
Devane’s role is invaluable to his team. His presence serves as a deterrent to opposing players looking to take liberties with his teammates, and at the same time, allows them to play a bigger knowing he’s out there.
”If you’re on the ice and you have Brian McGrattan [Calgary Flames enforcer] out there skating on the other team, you’re not going to take a cheap shot at one of their players knowing that he’s out there.”
As his teammate can confirm, Devane brings the same attribute to the Marlies.