Summer Reading - SCH's Season Review: Mamma Jammer
Jamal Mayers seemed to be the only free agent signing that both Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman agreed on. Until Game 4 of the playoffs, of course. But this kind of signing is pretty easy, as there are plenty of guys around who do what Jamal Mayers does. Jammer was signed to be Jammer, a fourth line guy to win his share of draws, provide some energy, kill penalties, stick up for teammates when required, and maybe chip in a goal here and there. And on that set of parameters, Mayers was successful.
The Good: As stated above, Mayers pretty much did what was asked of him. He won 52% of his draws. Even though the Hawks penalty kill was a mess, that had more to do with goaltending and a conservative system than it did with Jammer. He wasn't great, but he wasn't a glaring weakness on the kill either. He provided some steel when the Hawks needed it, dropping the gloves 11 times, and they were hardly ever the scripted battles that drive us nuts. And pounding B.J. Crombeen will always be smiled upon by this blog. Jammer provided the amount of goals you'd want, and even was a net presence briefly on the power play when Toews was initially injured, though he was more on that to win draws because no one else could. All in all, just a solid 4th line veteran. Didn't make your hair stand up (if you have hair), but didn't cause heartburn either.
The Bad: The playoff scratches come immediately to mind. It's not that Mayers was noticeably bad in the first three games of the playoffs, but he was getting housed on faceoffs. And if Mayers is not winning draws, his usefulness is probably cut by at least half. So, even though I was confused by it at the time, it made sense to throw Morrison out there who just might provide more than Mayers would even at his full speed (and strangely, Morrison did, though I still have nightmares about him not lifting the puck in the 2nd period of Game 6 on that glorious chance. What a different game it could have been). But other than that, it's hard to really get at Mayers for too much other stuff. What expectations there were, he generally met them.
Contract: Unrestricted Free Agent
Stick Around Or Hit The Bricks: Interesting debate here, as much as a 4th line player can be. I suppose if the Hawks sign him to another bottom of the scale deal to be a 4th line wing, I wouldn't complain. Here's another player who might want nothing to do with Q after that scratch in the playoffs, though that's less likely. So much depends on what the Hawks do with their #2 center, whether that shifts Kruger to a 4th line center or out of town, and what kids they might want to be on the 4th line anyway. Chances are, the Hawks think they can do a little better on their last pivot, and they're probably right. Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw, Ben Smith still, possibly Phillip Danault, and maybe one or two other kids might vie for time on the 4th line, and the Hawks may just want to give it to them. Most likely, Jammer will be elsewhere next year. While that won't raise a fuss, it won't be because he was much of a disappointment here. Just a numbers and age thing.