Thoughts on Thoughts” is a feature that looks at Elliotte Friedman’s terrific weekly post “30 Thoughts.” Justin Bourne selects his 10 favourite tidbits, and elaborates.

Last edition: Silence is golden for NHL, players

Friedman’s column, November 12th: Holding the line on contracts

Opening: Here’s a paragraph from Elliotte’s opening (which focuses on lockout analysis) that absolutely killed me (emphasis mine):

We know the NHL and NHL Players’ Association are close on revenue sharing. We know they are less than $400 million apart on the make-whole provision. They are still arguing over who is going to bear the financial burden of lost revenue from this season.

Wwww…hut? That’d be like going to dinner, arguing over who’s going to pay, and during the argument ordering and consuming more food. If neither side can afford it and wants to pay for it, why are we making the situation worse?

The rest of the opening discusses the “make whole” offer from owners, that led Elliotte to note that the current one would upset three quarters of the players in the union, which made me think: what would happen if one particular player really went off the rails and said “Fuck it, the current offer is fine, let’s do this, I want to play.” Kicked out of the union? Black-balled from the NHL? I don’t see the latter being likely if the guy is a legitimately good player… I’d love to see someone break from the mold and be honest, just to see what would happen.

5. On Hockey Night in Canada Radio, Bret Hedican, who played eight years with Bure in Vancouver and Florida, said the winger’s great unknown skill was changing into equipment at superhuman speed. Bure would walk in “two minutes before [practice] without any gear on yet and now I’m just putting my helmet on and he’s walking out on the ice with all his gear on. We timed him one day. It was like two minutes, two-and-a-half minutes to get dressed.”

I think most of us have played with a guy like that, and I find it oddly stressful. I’m a quick dresser too, but I don’t have a problem having my gear on, say, one fucking minute before it’s absolutely necessary. Sometimes a lace breaks, sometimes your jock-strap finally quits, somedays you remember you wanted to get your skates sharpened at the last second. So the “last minute” guys, who I always thought did it just…I actually don’t know…to be showy? stressed me out. WHAT IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG?!?!?

6. Hedican added he saw Bure push himself with harsh training sessions at the apartment complex they lived in while playing for the Panthers. What it came down to was Bure didn’t like working out at the rink. His philosophy was, “When you were at the rink, you were there … just to score goals and play hockey,” Hedican said.

I really like that attitude, and it’s good to hear Bure actually followed up at the rink, unlike those certain guys on your team would say “Oh, I’m going to do a workout at home” or at the gym, and then go play video games all day. Then again, we all knew Bure took working out seriously when we saw this picture:


8. Adam Oates said he knew he’d arrived in the NHL when he and Brett Hull stood listening to the national anthems before Game 7 of the 1990 Norris Division final against Chicago. Hull nudged Oates and told him to look up. A fan had two dummies hung in effigy — one with Hull’s number, the other with Oates’s. Of course, he used this as motivation, right? “No, we got killed,” he said. Final score was 8-2.

Different players are affected differently by crowd hate, but I for one loved it. If you’re specifically targeted as the object of scorn, it’s even better. You immediately know you’re doing something right. “Things that make crowds hate you” and “things that make your coaches love you” Venn diagram basically looks like one solid circle. Boos are just road cheers.

9. Hull on Oates: “I always felt bad for the guy on our left wing. He would come to the bench and he’d ask Adam, ‘Did you see me? I was wide open.’ He’d look at the guy and go, ‘Yeah I saw you, but who do you think I want to pass to — you or Brett?’”

I don’t think that ever happened, like, not even once. Certainly not with a straight face. For one, Adam Oates isn’t an asshole, but two, because line dynamics matter so much. I’ve been on lines that have had to agree not to apologize to each other any more. And no matter who you get set up with, you always act like you’ve been awaiting this chance all season. I’m sure it was joked about here and there, but there’s nothing to be gained by carving your liney.

13. One of Sakic’s great moments was handing the Stanley Cup to teammate Ray Bourque immediately after receiving it in 2001. What surprised teammates was that Sakic first brought up the idea after Game 6. It was out of character for him to be so presumptuous that they were going to win. Nice little motivational trick.

I love that Joe, my second favourite player of all-time (I’m a Mario guy) initiated the Cup pass to Bourque. I love the execution, it was all very cool, But what we’re talking about here, to me, isn’t necessarily a great motivational trick. If it works, as it did, cool – if not, you get the “looking past the job at hand” label. So many “leadership” labels come down to luck unfortunately. Not trying to take away from Joe’s move there, but if he didn’t on purpose, he definitely put himself out there.

17. Asked Hull who would win a 4-on-4 game in their primes: Class of 2009 (Hull, Yzerman, Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille) or this year’s group (Bure, Oates, Sakic, Sundin). Hull picked the 2012 guys, partially because he wouldn’t feel like defending anyone.

Pshhhhh, no way the former team loses. They get a guy who’ll actually play defense and can make the first pass (Leetch), they have one of the all-time greatest trigger-men in Hull, a nasty good all around offensive and defensive leader in Yzerman, and Luc Robataille, who scored more goals than all four of this year’s inductees. Game, blouses. Er, 2009.

22. Justin Bourne of The Score’s Backhand Shelf does a nice little deconstruction of this blog every week. He questioned the idea that Nyquist needs to be on the top two lines to stay in the big league. My guess is the issue there is that if you look at the Detroit roster, there are plenty of guys on NHL contracts to fit those roles. We’ll see.

Heyyy, a Backhand Shelf shout-out! Thanks Elliotte. And now I’m desperately hoping Nyqvist cracks the roster and plays on the third line.

23. Hockey Canada’s in a difficult spot with the world junior team because the lockout really affects it at centre. None of Mark Scheifele, Ryan Strome and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may be available if this ends beforehand and now they’ve got to worry about Boone Jenner.

It would be fun to actually get to field our best team one year at the World Juniors. Boone Jenner has 17 goals in 22 games as a second round pick this year. How great must it be to draft a kid and watch him come through like you thought he might? Why, that’d be like me drafting Rob Gronkowski in the final round of my fantasy football keeper league a couple years back, AMIRITE?

26. Scouting report on Erixon: moves the puck, keeps his head up, makes smart plays. Still needs to improve on puck battles along the boards, though. That’s his challenge, but he sure wants to prove the Rangers wrong. In two games against Connecticut, he’s got three goals, six points and is plus-6.

That’s a tough review of yourself to change, and tough to “actually” change too. I too was given the label as someone who needs to improve on puck battles, and all you can really do is be diligent in the gym and hope you eventually get stronger (core strength is key). But once you get that rep, people start watching you awfully close on the puck. Guys who lose a lot of puck battles end up with poor Corsis, and with the (slight) rise in the prevalence of that stat, I think those guys are going to be more exposed than ever.

Also, as a somewhat unrelated tangent: guys who are slated in to be top dogs – NHLers at some point – get some points based purely on the opportunities they’re given. If you play top-six and PP minutes, you’re going to get some points based purely on who you play with and the situations you play in. Obviously Erixon is killing it in (VORP) “value over replacement player” right now though, so that’s a great sign for him.

27. Nathan Mackinnon impressed a lot of people with his second-game bounceback against Russia in the Super Series. Game 1: zero points, minus-4. Game 2: four points, plus-3. It was the adjustments he committed to. In the opener, the feeling was he was making the kinds of plays you can get away with in junior yet get eaten up against better competition. In the next game, he got rid of that. That’s the sign of a really smart player.

I agree with that assessment. My first game at pretty much every level – NCAA, ECHL, AHL – all left me feeling overwhelmed. The sign of someone who can figure it out is that bounce-back, instead of a step-back, which happens when guys get disheartened by things not going their way. “One game” is slightly better than the adjustments I made, so yes: credit to Mackinnon for that performance.