A plumber in hockey refers to a player that is not the most skilled on the team yet does the dirty work in the corners. Plumbers are also referred to as grinders and tend to hold their spot on the roster through their work ethic.
These are the sorts of players that can be relied upon to play hard every shift. Most teams are going to have skill players at the top, solid contributors throughout the lineup and a few plumbers at the bottom.
In most cases, plumbers are going to be third or fourth line players that do not get a lot of ice time. Their lack of scoring ability means that these players are not often on the ice for their team.
Instead, these players will come on when the team needs a hard physical shift against their opponents.
What Do Plumbers Do For Your Hockey Team?
Now that you know what a plumber is you may be wondering why these players are on your roster? Below we are going to break down some of the important roles a plumber may play on your hockey team.
One thing that plumbers do effectively in hockey is forechecking. Forechecking in hockey refers to putting pressure on the opposing team’s puck carrier.
This requires a lot of hustle and energy in the offensive zone, this is something plumbers have plenty of. When forechecking players do not need to be incredibly skilled they just need to have the effort to stay on top of the opposing team’s players.
Since plumbers do not often play a lot of minutes throughout the game they often have the energy to forecheck their opponents effectively.
Provide Energy To Teammates
Another benefit of having some grinders on your team is the energy they can provide their teammates. Sometimes hockey games aren’t going your way and the offense cannot get anything going.
In these situations, it is not uncommon for the coach to put out some of the plumbers in order to get the team going.
These players display maximum effort each shift and are usually some of the most physical players on the roster. This sort of play can motivate the rest of the forwards as they see their depth guys on the ice working as hard as they can.
If these players are able to lay a big hit or drop the mitts then you can be sure the rest of the team is going to get a boost in energy.
Fight For Pucks In The Corners
Players that play the role of the plumber are often useful for winning the pucks out of the corner. In recent years the NHL has become a much more open league with fewer plays along the boards.
That being said every once in a while a team will end up in a physical game in which there is a lot of clutching and grabbing.
This sort of game favours the plumber style of players as they tend to be better in a slower more physical game.
When these games happen these players can be incredibly effective in winning these puck battles. Cycling pucks in the offensive zone and digging them out of the corner are the sorts of things lower skill players work on every day.
When stuck in a physical game a team wants a few of these players on their roster in order to match the opposing team’s physicality.