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      03 Oct

    HOCKEY SEASON IS HERE! You can get your bitching about trivial things like 4th liners revved back up again in HAwk Talk! Hallelujah and praise the visor gods!!!

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Player Evaluation: Jamal Mayers

  By Tony DeFrancesco

PHOTO / Tribune
It came as a surprise to all of us when Jamal Mayers was signed to a contract extension after Joel Quenneville opted to bench the veteran forward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Mayers, 37, didn't necessarily have a poor season for a 4th line center. He appeared in 81 games last season, scoring five goals and adding nine assists. His face-off percentage was shockingly brilliant, winning at a 56.1% of his draws at the dot which was good enough for 2nd best on the team behind Jonathan Toews. As a measuring stick, John Madden completed 53% of his draws as the 3rd/4th line center when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup... he also produced more points than Mayers but in all fairness he also played nearly 6 more minutes per game and he played for a championship team.

Mayers saw most of his workload in the defensive end, where he had 54.2% of his starts. When he was on the ice in defensive situations, his line won 55.2% of their face-offs, which again, placed him 2nd on the team behind Jonathan Toews.

Not only does Mayers excel in the face-off circle, but he also excels as a great teammate on and off the ice. His toughness and his leadership off the ice are two intangibles that probably kept him in Chicago. Mayers had 102 hits last season which placed him 3rd on the team. He also accumulated 91 PIM's over the course of the season -- 55 minutes of that was served due to fighting majors, placing him 1st on the team.

He was able to maintain a sub-par minus-4 rating, but playing on the 4th line gave him the worst quality of teammates on the roster (according to players that played over 20 games) by a long shot. His corsi rating was nothing to write home about either, which was among the worst on the team.

It's difficult to tell whether or not Mayers will appear in as many games as he did last season. Fortunately for him, the Blackhawks still lack depth at center and until that is resolved he should get regular duties again. Whether or not the Blackhawks address that issue later in the season is yet to be determined, but as of now we'll have to project his role based on how the roster stands.

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