Mon Aug 11 10:25am EDT
For a long time, a hockey fan who knew the name Jon Mirasty could wear it as a badge of coolness.
It was like discovering an underground rapper before a major label did; only instead of trading mix tapes, puckheads sent links to hockey fighting clips where the Mohawk-wearing pit bull on skates would trade wicked haymakers with his opponents.
Then Mirasty became the focal point of Patrick Hruby's terrific article on hockey fight fans for ESPN, and his attitude and exploits were displayed for the casual masses.
But the YouTube darling still had one more hurdle to cross before he reached mainstream acknowledgement: Finally playing in the National Hockey League.
The first step was re-signing with the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mirasty has a two-way contract and appears determined to "prove himself" to the parent club. But as HockeyFights.com points out, there's another development that could hasten his ascendance to the NHL: The health of Jared Boll, the Jackets' resident scrapper and the League's second-highest earner of penalty minutes last season. He broke his hand in a game of pick-up hockey this summer; and while he's expected in camp, Hockey Fights wonders if the door is open for Mirasty:
Boll will likely be healthy enough in time for the start of Columbus' training camp in September, but it's key to note that this isn't the first time that he's injured his right hand. Hopefully it's not the start of repeated problems.
If the Jackets decide to go into the season without a true heavy and Mirasty's skills continue to progress, it wouldn't be a surprise if "Nasty" were to receive a cup of coffee at some point next year, regardless if Boll is in the lineup or not.
Honestly, this NHL is not one for John Mirasty. He's a Tie Domi-level showman and while the League tolerates fighting, it doesn't tolerate pugilism taking the spotlight away from the game itself. He would have been perfect back in those days when fans would search out hockey games for their potential showdowns; like when everyone wanted their shot at Bob Probert.
Still, the notion of Mirasty in the NHL is a tantalizing one, especially with players like Daniel Carcillo, Zack Stortini and Alex Burrows throwing fists in the same conference. And lord knows he'd like another shot at Jesse Boulerice, should he make the show again: