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Game #22 – Hawks vs. Panthers: Douchebag Du Jour – Radim Vrbata, Master Of The Goal That Doesn’t Matter

Did you know Radim Vrbata has played over 1,000 games in the NHL? We bet you didn’t. He’s been around now for 15 seasons, if you can believe it. And that comes straight, there was never a year where Vrbata bounced between the AHL and NHL. He was called up, and he’s been here ever since.

He’s piled up 282 goals in his NHL career, and how many of them mattered? Well, he has eight career playoff goals in four tries in the postseason. Only once has Vrbata been past the first round, that 2011 Coyotes run you remember so fondly. And even with 16 playoff games that year, Vrbata managed two goals. That three-year run in Glendale comprises almost all of Vrbata’s playoff experience, with a brief glimpse in ’15 with the Canucks when they somehow goofed a playoff spot before getting impaled by the Flames, who themselves weren’t really any good either.

Vrbata has spent a lifetime in the shadows, scoring enough goals for teams that don’t really matter to mark himself out for that team or another team needing somewhat cheap scoring. He’s hockey’s version of Brian Roberts or late-career Adam Dunn or Jhoulys Chacin. He’s hockey’s running back, eminently disposable but effective enough to find work, like Darren Sproles or Marion Barber. If this were the NBA he’d be the shoosty swingman off the bench, a hockey Joe Johnson. He just keeps popping up and doing just enough to be forgotten.

But hey, he had that streak of shootout goals against the Hawks, and all were a deke and a backhand. You, like most of the Hawks fans you know, were screaming at your TV because you knew what was coming. Chances are Corey Crawford did, too. And it didn’t matter. You already knew what it looked like, and yet you sat there watching it unfold again. And then it faded.

Pretty much encapsulates Vrbata’s career.

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