Krys Barch stood in front of his locker smiling. He had two black eyes from fighting three times in one game last week and a chipped tooth. His handshake like a bear trap strengthened with each passing second.

He had just been talking about the fight in Toronto last week which resulted in a 10-game suspension for ex-Devil David Clarkson when he was asked whether there was still room for enforcers him and those like him in the NHL.

"It’s something when you need it you need it" Barch replied. "And when you don’t you wish you had it."

The Devils say there is still a need for it. Barch and fellow pugilist Cam Janssen are battling to make the final cut when the regular season begins. But they’re doing so at a time when fighting seems to be falling leaguewide and muscle must come with skill and grace.

During the 2008-09 season Anaheim led the league with 82 fighting majors. Two years ago in the last full season the Rangers did so with just 65.

And as Barch will tell you no longer are enforcers on the ice for 45 seconds a night just to swill around with their counterpart on the other team. Now they must be able to play seven or eight minutes a night.

For Pete DeBoer the question doesn’t need much time to be answered.

"Absolutely" the Devils coach said. "It’s still a part of the game and it will be if and when they take fighting out. Everybody needs those guys that will hold the other guys accountable if they try to take liberties. And those two guys are good at what they do."

Ryan Carter says the formula is fairly simple.