When the puck drops at the Bell Centre tonight to start the Habs/Oilers game, second year forward Magnus Paajarvi will not be in the lineup. Dan Tencer tweeted:

“Renney says Paajarvi needs to play with more passion. Says benching won’t help confidence tonight, but will inspire him tomorrow and forward.”

I too was occasionally accused of not playing with enough passion, but it wasn’t that. When you’re a guy who’s supposed to contribute offensively and you’re going through a case of the snowballing struggles, it often looks like you don’t care. That’s rarely the case.

Making a young player a healthy scratch really is the defibrillator options when it comes to creating life in a player. It’s pretty intense. The problem is, if it doesn’t work things aren’t just going to stay the same. Dead can become worse-than-dead in hockey’s case.

So Paajarvi hasn’t had much success this year (almost none, actually – he has zero goals and one assist in 13 games), and now he’s scratched. He’ll have one of two reactions:

He’ll recognize a much-deserved kick in the ass when he sees one, be embarrassed that it came to this, and never want it to happen again. He’ll skate hard the next day, wait for his chance, and come out guns-a-blazing. This is known as the Tom Renney Hopes option.

Or, he’ll be a kid. When you’re that talented that young, you’re not used to being told you’re not good enough to get it done. Pouting can start, the relationship with the coach can become strained, and it can start things down the wrong path.

I’m not behind the scenes enough to know if they’ve tried other things – pulling him into the office, sitting down to watch video with him, staying out with him after practice with a bucket of pucks, giving him extra lingonberries etc. – but I hope they have. Some younger players (you see this a lot in junior) really don’t take well to the healthy scratch.

So if you’re an Oilers fan, you’re hoping he’s a mentally mature kid, that he gets back in the lineup the next game, and he puts one in the back of the net.

To opt for the nuclear option on a young player usually ends up going one way or the other. Stay tuned.

Comments (8)

  1. Funny that he wears 91 like Turris.
    Why don’t the Oilers and Yotes swap 1st round disappointments.

  2. “Or, he’ll be a kid. When you’re that talented that young, you’re not used to being told you’re not good enough to get it done. Pouting can start, the relationship with the coach can become strained, and it can start things down the wrong path.”

    See Filatov, Nikita

  3. Yup, that could have been directly written about Filatov. It happens.

  4. For what it’s worth, when playing here in Sweden he showed a lot of maturity at an even younger age. I think he has a chance as good as anyones to respond to it the preferable kick-in-the-*ss way.

  5. I don’t know what Paajarvi could do any differently after this benching. As far as I know, he’s already attending all optional practices. Granted, I obviously haven’t been to these practices but it certainly seems like he’s putting in the effort. He’s been effective on the much-improved Oilers PK this year and as for points, well, how many is he supposed to get playing 12 minutes a night with virtually no powerplay time?

  6. Kid was skating hard, drawing penalties and generally playing well…just not getting any bounces. Shitty thing for him was Hemsky came back and they needed to HS someone. All 3 other lines have been playing well, and of the 3 on the third line he’s the one that a) isn’t taking own zone draws/pk’ing or b) coming off a injury.

    Kinda a luck of the draw type deal…I imagine eventually the 4th line will bugger something up and he’ll be put back on there (which won’t help his numbers any).

  7. I kind of agree with Steve-O. It really feels like a numbers game benching. The poor bastard hasn’t gotten ONE offensive bounce all year. The entire third line hasn’t produced, and it’s not really fair to hang it on the 20 year old kid.

    Defensively he’s been good. He’s not making bad giveaways, he makes the right play more often than not. His plus minus on a line that hasn’t scored all year is ZERO. That has to count for something.

  8. it’s nice to hear somebody else- somebody more credible!- point out that a ‘no passion’ is an unfair and generally unfounded accusation to level at a struggling player.

    but it does seem to me that learning to put aside individual ego, particularly when it comes to things like feeling entitled to ice time and pouting when you don’t get it, is the part of being a professional player. people always talk about the young ‘uns as if they’re these fragile things who need to have their egos stroked and fondled all day long, for fear they might have a bad emotional reaction. but keeping your emotions under control is part of being an adult- more than that, it’s part of what makes a good player in the long run- and coaches/fans/media really shouldn’t be providing excuses for juvenile behavior. not saying that paajarvi will react badly- i hope he won’t- but if he does, it’s a character flaw in him, not a mistake on the coach’s part.

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