Watching Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ben Chiarot as he was annahilating Anaheim Ducks players in Sunday’s 5-1 victory, it might not come as a surprise that his first sporting love was football.
He comes by this passion naturally. His grandfather Gordon Chiarot won a CFL Grey Cup with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1957.
It would be hard to argue that Chiarot doesn’t bring a football mentality with him when he skates out between the boards.
“He brings things that we’re trying to accomplish as a team,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said of Chiarot. “He cares about keeping the puck out of the net. He’s hard. He draws people to fight every practice.”
“He’s made it uncomfortable for some of our guys in practice because of how hard he plays.”
Chiarot Making Life Uncomfortable
Chiarot makes it even more uncomfortable for players on the other team during games.
“I think especially for those skill guys,” Detroit goalie Ville Husso said. “He’s hitting those guys. He makes the night for them hard.
“He’s a great Dman, plays physical, always in the right spot, too. Just a good Dman for us.”
Ben Chiarot is a menace pic.twitter.com/0JGDXs1R94
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) October 23, 2022
Signed as an unrestricted free agent last summer, the arrival of the 6-foot-3, 231-pound Chiarot was designed to alter the culture of the Detroit club. Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman is wanting a club that’s more irascible, harder to play against. That could be the scouting report on Chiarot.
“That’s just what he knows,” Lalonde said. “It’s how he became a regular, everyday NHLer. That’s what he knows and I’m sure one of many reasons why Steve wanted him as part of this organization.
“Ben’s been through it. He’s experienced it and you just see it in Ben’s approach. He is an everyday guy. When he comes out to practice, he comes out to practice hard.”
He’s not a flashy player. You won’t see Chiarot jumping up into the rush. But if you’re the unfortunate soul who find himself in Chiarot’s bombsights, brace for impact.
Stanley Cup Final Experience
Lalonde caught an eyeful of the impact Chiarot can make on another team when his Tampa Bay Lightning were facing Chiarot’s Montreal Canadiens in the 2021 Stanley Cup final. Though Tampa Bay won in five games, Chiarot never stopped competing.
“He played in the Stanley Cup final against us,” Lalonde said. “We also played him in the playoffs last year (when Chiarot was with the Florida Panthers) and you appreciate him as a player.
“He’s probably got way better feet than I had anticipated. His stick’s even better than I anticipated.”
Chiarot’s father Matt played Canadian college football for McMaster. When he’s home in Hamilton, Ont. in the summer months, there’s nothing Ben enjoys more than taking in a Tiger-Cats game.
Another aspect of Chiarot’s football approach to the ice? He’s of the belief that the best offense is stout defense.
“We’re trying to defend better,” Lalonde said. “We’re trying to make some things in our game a little more important and those are things he takes pride in. That’s what we will be asking of Benny.”