Islanders sign goon Eric Boulton, now in his 20th pro season

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Islanders sign goon Eric Boulton, now in his 20th pro season
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  • Eric Boulton
    Eric Boulton
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  • Garth Snow
    American ice hockey goaltender

Think about all the good things GM Garth Snow has done for the New York Islanders. The Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy deals. The Jaroslav Halak signing. The way he secured the young core of his team for a decent price. These are all good things. 

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But there’s this other thing that Garth does that’s inexplicable in 2015 for an NHL team, which is signing bloody knuckled war horses like Eric Boulton to a one-year contract, as he did on Tuesday.

Boulton played the last three seasons for the Islanders, totaling 48 games and 154 penalty minutes. He skated 7:11 per game last season in 10 games. (Yet he scored two goals, which is really a hell of a goals-per-minute ratio.)

According to General Fanager, Boulton will make $575,000 this season with a $25,000 performance clause for each playoff round the Islanders win while he’s a healthy scratch.

Obviously, Snow believes the Islanders need Boulton around, lest someone take a run at his star offensive players like John Tavares. Like, for example, when Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals steamrolled Lubomir Visnovsky in the playoffs last season, and Boulton sought revenge by attempting to fight Wilson in the 2015-16 preseason.

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When Wilson refused, Boulton called him “scared to death” to fight him.

But in reality, Wilson is 21 years old, and isn’t playing in the same league that Boulton used to attempt to play in. No one answers the bell anymore. One of the reasons enforcers have been in decline for years is because they lack dance partners, and Wilson wasn’t going to offer his hand to Boulton. From the Washington Post:

“I just don’t think there’s any point in me fighting those guys,” Wilson said. “He didn’t play at all last year. He’s probably not going to play at all this year. I’m trying to use these preseason games to get ready for the year. I know there’s always going to be that physical part of my game. But there’s just no need for me to take that guy. Unless he’s running around taking advantage of our guys, there’s just no reason for me to pay any attention to a guy like that.”

Tell that to Garth Snow.

So Boulton is back for his 20th(!) season in pro hockey, going back to 1996 and the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL. He’s played for the Buffalo Sabres, the Atlanta Thrashers, the New Jersey Devils and the Islanders. Fourteen NHL seasons. Say what you will about his role, but damn that’s impressive for a player that does what he’s paid to do.

Even if, at 39, one wonders what exactly he offers the Islanders beyond a snarl and an occasional pummeling.

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