He might as well just wear a bulls-eye.
Levi Nelson is no doubt at the top of several "hit lists" around the Western Hockey League. Let me see . . . Regina, Calgary, Prince Albert, Red Deer, Medicine Hat and unmistakeably the Brandon Wheat Kings as proven last night. The Wheat Kings were motivated as they skated to a 6-3 win thanks to four powerplay goals.
Agree or disagree on this but Levi's role of trying to get under the oppositions skin has hurt this Broncos hockey club lately. It is serving little purpose right now. I like Levi and think he's a great kid, I love his pre-game enthusiasm but I can't condone his chippy play. Especially when it hurts his game and the team's chances of winning. I much prefer the Levi Nelson who is out getting points and flying up the ice with the puck. Not the one looking over his shoulder for the next opposition player about to take a run at him.
As I mentioned on the broadcast the other night, Levi can either put up points or agitate, but can't do both at the same time. He has to find the right mix.
Here are a few things from last night's game that caught my attention.
1. Levi is hit hard by Darryl Boyle early in the 1st period. No penalty on the hit but Jeremy Schenderling is forced into retaliating for his linemate. The end result. A Wheaties PP (which they score on) and a total of 17 minutes of penalties for Schenderling. How can we have one of our 20 year-olds in the box for 17 minutes?
2. A scrum breaks out in the third period with the Wheat Kings again going after Nelson. Linemate Brady Leavold (our January Player of the Month) is the one to drop the gloves in his defense. Leavold's night is done. It's not like Levi steers clear of the penalty box in these situations either. As is the case, Nelson does enough talking while being saved by the linesman to pick up a 10-minute misconduct.
3. He's awaking a sleeping giant. Why are we trying to rattle powerhouse teams like Medicine Hat and Brandon up? Let sleeping dogs lie. We should try and limit the chances of these top notch PP's. They are seemingly dissecting the Broncos penalty-kill most nights. The Broncos haven't proven they can win the intense playoff-like games this season. The more the game turns into a war, the more I don't like their chances.
There are other aspects too. Nelson has already been suspended two games for a knee-on-knee hit on Brandon's Dustin Kohn. He can't help the team in the stands.
Levi has many positives but they have to start out-weighing the negatives. Teammates I'm sure are getting tired of going to war for him just so they can spend some quality time in the penalty box together. Referees in this league have caught on, they aren't naive They are aware of how these things start.
I would compare it to a Derek Dorsett situation. Referees are always watching for him. He can't get away with much anymore. The difference is the more Dorsett is involved in a game, the more he will hurt you. He can score, fight, hit - all while rattling the opposition.
I haven't talked to one fan that has said "I sure like the way Levi is playing right now". Ok, that's not true, Big Ern must be loving this.
Am I out to lunch here? Do you agree or disagree? This is open for debate.