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Blackhawks Thu Mar 15 2012

Hawks' Rookie Enforcer is All Smiles

One of the beautiful things about hockey is the fighting. In just about any other sport, aside from boxing, it's considered petty, rude, immature, and ungentlemanly. But in hockey, it is strategic, aggressive, and, if you're Brandon Bollig, it might just be good old-fashioned fun.

The rookie left-winger was recalled from the IceHogs in February. He made his NHL debut on Feb. 29 against Toronto and threw his first NHL punch against Luke Schenn. The Hawks seized a win that night, and Bollig established himself as a fearless victor.

Bollig fights with ferocity and lands some solid blows, but his most entertaining fighting feature isn't in his fists. He smiles through most every battle, like a brother wrestling with his siblings, not a hockey player drawing blood. The 25-year-old fought in five of his first seven NHL games, grinning through them all.

The St. Louis-area native pulled out all the stops in his first game against the Blues on March 6 and earned his first instigator penalty. He and Blues right-winger Ryan Reaves decided to fight mid play. Bollig politely offered Reaves an invitation to go for it with a tap of his stick, he accepted and the gloves came off as the puck headed toward Chicago's blue line.

An entertainingly clever fighter, at one point Bollig began punching Reaves with the same hand that held Reaves' collar. He dealt vicious blows with the face of a kid on Christmas, but when Reaves had enough, Bollig lightly tapped him on the helmet as if to say, "That was fun, let's do it again some time."

Bollig is more than just a fighter though. He brings energy and power to the team. His aggression and undeniable intensity help to fill the gap left by the enforcer John Scott, who was traded to the New York Rangers at the deadline. He's quickly carving out a place for himself in Chicago and while Bollig might spend a fair amount of time in the Hawks' penalty box, he certainly won't be pouting about it.

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