Joined: Jul 2017
Not sure that's necessarily true, but just my opinion...and I'll explain why I feel this way...
An enforcer who leads the league in fights sounds like an oxymoron, because a good enforcer uses his simple presence to deter other teams from getting out of line. It's the fear factor that the enforcer concept is based on. But if actually you're fighting, then something has already happened leading to the fight. This kind of defeats the purpose of the Rangers having Haley around since your original comment was "no one touches Panarin or Kakko all season".
The fact that he led the league in fights two seasons ago doesn't really say anything about him being good at his role, and more likely says that other players aren't really afraid of fighting him. The league might know that he is willing to fight, but they evidently don't care, hence..no fear factor. I'd be much more interested in knowing how he fared in those 22 fights, and who he fought against.
I again point to the last pre-season game with the Islanders. You could clearly tell the Islanders knew they had a big upper hand in the physical department, which has been an issue with the Rangers for years now. It showed in the third period when the Islanders decided they had enough with being out-skated for two periods and started running everyone in sight. Interestingly enough, the game turned in the Islanders favor because the Rangers could not respond in kind, and they eventually lost the game. They tried their guts out as a team, and I give them a lot of credit for that since this is truly the eventual solution to the problem. But Hayley was not nearly the imperfect answer to the problem that you would like, highlighted by him losing his fight handily to the Islanders' 3rd string tough guy. It only emboldened the Islanders and tilted the momentum of the game further in their favor. In the end he actually sparked the opposition, and didn't come close to serving as a deterrent.
Again, I am not knocking the guy himself, he has my respect for sure...but this is a no-frills brand band-aid approach by the Rangers at best.
Team toughness is what makes teams respect each other. Two fighters can have a fight...it's the other players who are left on the ice after the misconducts are given out...the guys who don't fight.. that get hesitant when things get rough. The prospect of pissing a tough team off..and then shift after shift getting physically pounded by that team's players top to bottom, isn't very appealing to the "fines" guy...that type of fear is the real deterrent.