Hockey's plus-minus rating, which measures a player's goal differential, is oft maligned, criticized or even ignored by some who question its value as a statistic.
Thunder coach Kevin McClelland appears to fall into that group, saying that plus-minus isn't a "true stat."
Still, the rating should be of special significance to Wichita fans this season because, entering Friday's game, Thunder defenseman Jarred Mohr boasted a plus-17 — tops in the Central Hockey League.
That impresses McClelland, whether the stat is always meaningful or not.
"When a guy's number is that high, you know he's doing something right," McClelland said.
While Andrew Martens and Daniel Tetrault, both winners of the league Most Outstanding Defenseman honor, provide ample star power on the Thunder blueline, Mohr has been the definition of solid.
Entering play on Friday, the Regina, Saskatchewan native had played in all 18 games, registering an even or plus rating in 16. He has chipped in two power-play goals and eight points.
McClelland likes Mohr on the power play, penalty kill and working as a defensive pair with Martens.
"He's very skilled and very committed defensively, and he likes to pitch in the offensive side when there's an opportunity," said Martens, who is at plus-12. "He's willing to sacrifice himself to make a play."
Indeed, it's not uncommon to see the 5-foot-11 Mohr dive, slide or stretch his stick in any and all directions to stop or deflect a puck. Mohr considers it part of his job, which he described as "making the game easier for the goaltender" in whatever way possible.
"I'm not the kind of defenseman who likes to lay back and let the forwards dictate the play," said Mohr, who added that he is learning a lot playing with Martens. "I'll be the first to, you know, figure out a way to spoil the rush. I'm not very big, so I'm not gonna push a lot of guys around, but I like to get my stick in the passing lanes."
Mohr, acquired in another of McClelland's good trades, recently finished his best stretch of the season, scoring four points in four games. Included in that mini-streak was three games of plus-2 and a plus-1.
You can probably guess where Mohr falls in the plus-minus discussion: He's proud of the plus-17.
"It feels good," he said. "It means I'm doing my job."
Notes — Tonight is the annual Teddy Bear Toss. Fans are asked to bring a new stuffed animal and throw it on the ice when the Thunder scores its first goal. The bears are given to children in the area.