Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

How Bruins’ ‘Swiss Army Knife’ showed even more versatility

Matt Kalman
December 04, 2018 - 10:49 am

Since signing with the Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom has done a little bit of everything, earning himself the nickname “Swiss Army Knife.”

(As an aside the Stockholm, Sweden native said he’s fine with the nickname; after all, he said, Swedes are constantly mistaken for Swiss in North America.)

The 26-year-old, who signed a two-year contract worth $1 million per season July 1, has played on every forward line, played center and wing, been an important penalty killer and even had a cup of coffee on the power play.

In the Bruins last game, a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, he even added the role of fighter to his resume. But don’t expect him to drop the glove more regularly now.

“I don’t know we’ll see, I don’t think there’s too much to say,” Nordstrom told WEEI.com. “I’m maybe not cut out for fighting.”

Nordstrom, who now has two NHL fighting majors to his credit, was reacting to Luke Witkowski’s bone-crushing, open-ice hit on David Krejci in the second period Saturday. As soon as he got on the ice, Nordstrom challenged Witkowski and then made sure to protect himself against a player who had six fights in the NHL last season and once had 204 penalty minutes in an AHL season.

“I think that’s the nature of our team and our locker room, you step up for each other,” Nordstrom said.

It’s also the nature of the NHL today that more unlikely fighters have to drop the gloves in order to stand up for teammates. Even without designated tough guys, the game still has to be policed. And until the NHL pulls the plug on fighting, it will always linger and remain an important part of the game.

You could count Bruins forward David Backes, who’s usually counted on to fight three or four times a season, among those that Nordstrom impressed.

“I was more than impressed,” Backes said. “I think he showed a lot of care, a lot of character, a lot of, for lack of a better term, balls. Because the character he’s going after, it’s not like a skill guy went and hit Krech, he’s in the lineup to disturb and fight. And I was jacked after Nordy did that.

“Talk about a team-building opportunity ... and you know what, he held his own.”

Nordstrom’s only prior fight was Jan. 23, 2017, when he was with Carolina. He hit Washington’s Taylor Chorney high on the forecheck as the final horn sounded. Chorney took exception and after the two squared off, Chorney landed a couple punch before both players fell to the ice.

“I don’t think I even took a swing. It was a quick one and I was down on my back,” Nordstrom said.

He doesn’t expect to be initiating any more fights, but Nordstrom has cemented his place in the Bruins’ family for more than just his versatility and responsible play. And he sent a message to the rest of his teammates that no matter their role, they have to be ready to defend each other.

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