When the Capitals signed and recalled tough guy Joel Rechlicz Monday, Coach Dale Hunter said they wanted to add some toughness and physicality to their lineup.

Given that Rechlicz was brought up the same week as a meeting with the Montreal Canadiens and Rene Bourque, who elbowed Nicklas Backstrom to the head on Jan. 3, there’s been speculation about whether the timing was coincidental.

When Washington visited Montreal on Jan. 18 Bourque won a fight against Matt Hendricks, who challenged him in an attempt to make the winger take responsibility for the elbow. Backstrom is still out of the Capitals’ lineup with the concussion he suffered on the hit and has skated for only five minutes in the past 27 days, so the team’s desire for retribution may not be satisfied just yet.

Rechlicz, who leads the AHL in penalty minutes and has 41 fights between the AHL and NHL over the past three seasons, was asked Wednesday if he was aware of Bourque’s elbow and the damage it did. He replied simply:

“Yeah, I heard it was a cheap shot. Hopefully I’m in the lineup for that game.”

In two appearances this week against Tampa Bay and Florida, Rechlicz saw 1:49 and 2:37 of ice time respectively. Rechlicz hasn’t fought yet, but he did approach Florida’s Krys Barch, who declined the invitation, once the Capitals fell behind Wednesday night.

Rechlicz was discussing the role of enforcers in the modern NHL and his ability to serve as a deterrent for opponents taking any liberties against his teammates when he was asked about Bourque.

“Being there on the bench, guys will notice you, guys will play a little more quiet and stuff,” Rechlicz said. “Guys aren’t going to be doing anything stupid out there and if they do, I’ll get out there and I’ll answer the bell.”

Rechlicz said he isn’t worried about players potentially trying to walk away from a fight and avoid owning up to their actions.

“No, not at all,” Rechlicz said. “Then I’m just going to go get my checks and if I’ve got to run a guy through the glass, force him to fight, that’s what you’ve got to do.”

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Hendricks, Bourque square off (Jan. 19)
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Capitals take a tumble in Florida
Postgame: A flat performance