Scott Walker's 2008-09 season will likely be remembered for three sequential events: "the punch" of Aaron Ward in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals; his Game 7 overtime goal against the Bruins that included an emotional postgame interview; and the revelation that Walker was playing with a heavy heart — his wife, Julie, had been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
It was like a Hollywood sports script: questionable judgment, followed by redemption, with the reality of life beyond sport woven in. But there was more to Walker's season than a week in mid- May.
|2008 - Scott Walker||41||5||10||15||-4||39||1||0||0||0||71||7.0|
The Good: Walker can always be counted to stand up for his teammates and provide grit and an edge to the forward corps. He also upped his game in the postseason, adding six assists to his series-winning goal against Boston for seven points in 18 games. He averaged almost two hits per game (79 in 41 games) in just 13:19 minutes of ice time a night. His goal against Boston will go down as one of the franchise's all-time biggest and most inspirational goals, especially given the personal circumstances.
The Bad: Walker was riddled by injuries, missing half the season mostly due to a broken hand and concussion issues. When healthy, Walker's production has dropped each season since he's joined the Hurricanes. In 2008-09 he managed just 15 points (five goals, 10 assists), which was less than half of the previous season and 36 less than the 51 he managed in 2006-07, his first in Carolina. For $2.5 million, it's hard to justify the amount he makes for the role he's expected to play.
The Stats: Walker's numbers have dropped since coming to Raleigh. A two-time 25-goal scorer who maxed out at 67 points with Nashville in 2003-04, Walker has had to return to his roots of being a physical presence who can defend teammates and intimidate opponents — something he had difficulty doing because of his injuries last season.
- 5 goals — nine less than 2007-08 and 16 less than 2006-07.
- 10 assists — his lowest output since 2001-02, when he had just five assists in 28 games with the Predators.
- 15 points — lowest total since he had just nine points in 2001-02.
- 71 shots — 51 fewer than 2007-08 and the lowest since he had 57 in 33 games in 2005-06.
- 39 PIMs — limited by hand and head injuries, Walker had his third-lowest PIM total since becoming a full-time NHLer.
The Money: Walker made $2.5 million in 2008-09, the second year of a three-year deal that pays him that amount in all three years. This year will be the final year of his current contract.