Last December, I wrote a post comparing the Minnesota Wild to the NFL’s Tim Tebow, who was at that point a quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Not to toot my own horn (*braaaaaaaaap*), but I wrote that “over time, when the luck balances out and when the Wild, Tebow or any other underdog regresses to the mean, we need to be able to point out why”.

What followed was a list of reasons why the Minnesota Wild and Tim Tebow may not be as good as the commentators suggested. That was on December 12, when the Wild had 43 points and were tops in the Western Conference at 20-7-3. Both the Wild and the Broncos were on 7-game win streaks, the Broncos coinciding with when they switched quarterbacks. Still, it didn’t make any sense. Neither the Wild, nor Tebow, were really good, yet they were getting credit for all these wins they may not have deserved. Thankfully, logic prevailed, and the Broncos went on a three-game losing streak while a combination of regression and injuries brought this Western-leading team back to normality, they lost 8 straight games and won just 15 of their final 52.

I bring this up for two reasons. Well, three. Beyond tooting my own horn (*braaaaaaaaap*) there’s also a lesson to be learned to predict sports based on logic and not by the emotions resulting from small sample sizes. The third is that there’s talk of Tim Tebow going to Canada to play in the Canadian Football League, which is odd for a quarterback who can’t pass, since the CFL is a passing league.

Tebow can’t throw and is a quarterback. In modern sports, it’s almost unconscionable that somebody could play a position without being able to perform the basic, athletic movement that requires him or her to be successful. Being an NFL quarterback is tough enough, but it’s almost as if Tebow decided to play the solo to Fade to Black without being able to play guitar.

In discussion Tim Tebow, my father and I ran through a list of names of players who could be considered the ‘Tim Tebow’ of hockey. The basic criteria is “high draft pick” “even though nobody thought he would be real good” “loved by a certain segment of the sports media” “disliked by most other fans” “can’t play his position” “still gets discussed a lot”. Unfortunately, “polarizing religious personality” doesn’t seem to apply to too many NHLers, so I had to write it off. My conclusion:

Jack Johnson is the ‘Tim Tebow’ of the NHL.

The stats crowd likes to gang up on Jack Johnson, but there’s good reason for this. I don’t particularly think of plus/minus as a real tell-all stat, but Johnson was the league’s worst between Bettman’s second and third lockout (should we be attributing roman numerals to these things?).

Johnson was a former third overall pick, who has been just terrible since coming into the NHL in 2007 with Los Angeles. In one of the funniest interviews ever, Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi has admitted that Johnson “was awful as a hockey player” in his college days. This was before Lombardi traded away a good young defenceman named Tim Gleason for him:

“As an athlete, you’re going, wow! Look at the way he skates, shoots, he can pass. But he had no idea where he was going.”

“At times, he was playing forward at Michigan,” Lombardi elaborated. “You had no idea what position he was playing. But he had always been the star and he always got his numbers. Then he turns pro and for the first time, we’re telling him ‘whoa, just make the first pass and learn to play in your own end.’ How about making a read in your own end about the right guy to pick up? He was awful.”

Johnson is a possession blackhole. Never in his time in the NHL has he recorded a positive Corsi number, this is despite being pretty heralded in college as perhaps a future offensive star. He still could be, having scored 12 goals last season and getting 40 points the year before, and any good offensive year will put him in Norris contention. Still, defencemen in the NHL ought to be able to play a tinge of defence. That’s what makes Lombardi’s comments about him as a college defenceman so entertaining. He was named the CCHA Offensive Defenseman of the Year after scoring 16 goals as a sophomore, apparently pretty good for a defenceman.

Still, it’s like people knew he couldn’t play defence. His possession numbers are brutal. He has the distinction of being traded pretty much straight up for two excellent players, Gleason and Jeff Carter. He is practically a rover trying to adjust to a new position, with a system and a structure and everything.

Other than being a pretty poor player, he does not seem self-aware, genuinely bitter that he may not be as overpaid under a new CBA system as the old one. I may get some comments other than people writing ‘what’s the point of this post’, and others pointing to his few games in Columbus as a plus-five indicative that he’s turned it all around, ignoring the previous years of his life when he was a bad defenceman. Maybe he’ll get it together. I don’t think so. He’s the NHL’s Tim Tebow, whether that distinction means anything.

Comments (16)

  1. Needing a release for the pent up Jets frustration? Teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeebow doesn’t deserve the comparison.

    Guy got to start one season and led his team to the playoffs and a playoff win.

    Interesting debate could be had here on what the most important skill set of a successful QB really is (I’d honestly take an inferior thrower like Tebow over a supreme arm like Kyle Boller or *sudder* Jamarcus).

    If you were going to evaluate technique/skill/mechanics of goaltending then comparing Patrick Roy and Dom Hasek would be a landslide victory for Roy. But if goal is to just keep puck out of net, well then debate becomes more interesting.

    Jack Johnson is a bust, an awful awful bust (horrible defensively). Tim Tebow led his team to the playoffs before having his career jacked around by two organizations who refused to give him a chance because he doesn’t fit the mold of your typical QB (neither does Russel Wilson or even RG3 to a certain degree).

    I’d be more inclined to name the NHL’s Tebow as someone who despite producing and put up results can’t seem to win over scouts/talent evaluators.

    • Very well said!

      • Yes the more I think about it, Jack Johnson is like the Bizzaro Tebow.

        The supremely talented and amazing skill set player who cannot put it together to be a star, whereas Tebow lacks all the physical tools and traits to succeed at his position yet overcomes them and still wins.

    • Tim Tebow is a terrible quarterback. He was extremely lucky that a confluence of events that he had little to no control over happened when he was named the starter in Denver.

      That playoff game? With the highlight reel, game winning TD pass? That win came as a result of the NFL’s ridiculous OT rules and a massive injury bug sapping the Steelers (starting QB hobbling on one leg and multiple defensive starters out, including one who has a rare illness that makes playing at altitude deadly). The Broncos entire schedule was paper thin, and save for that bizarre game against the Steelers, Tebow did not start and beat a winning team last season.

      Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller had terrible seasons (really, the whole Broncos D played very poorly) until Tebow was named starter. Now, you could say that Tebow is a master motivator, thus unlocking Miller’s potential and convincing Dumervil to get out of his early-season slump. There are a lot of great motivators in the NFL, and there are plenty out there at QB that also have far better skill sets.

      Face it, the guy just is not very good, and any contribution he made to Denver’s success could have been made by any number of QBs. He was in the right place at the right time; that does not merit fanatical praise.

  2. I really couldn’t care less about all the new-fangled stats and numbers that people like to throw around. Some have a need to be able to logically explain why & when certain things happen, and to look down their collective nose snobbishly at those far less “sophisticated” fans like myself.

    “Based on Jonesy’s WAR of 8.75, UZR of 1.9, & Corsi Number of 79.4, he is a vastly superior player to Ol’ Lipschitz over there.”

    “Thankfully, logic prevailed…”

    Color me an old-school curmudgeon, but one of the best parts of watching / following sports is to see those events when something completely unexpected happens. If all things sport happened as predicted, I would have zero need to watch, and presumably a lot more money in my off-shore wagering account.

  3. “basic criteria is “high draft pick” “even though nobody thought he would be real good” “loved by a certain segment of the sports media” “disliked by most other fans” “can’t play his position” “still gets discussed a lot”.”

    sounds like Phaneuf. except everyone thought he’d be real good and hasn’t lived up to what he did early in his career.

  4. but he’s JMFJ and JMFJ is awesome and he’s great to use in NHL games.

  5. “”In discussion Tim Tebow, my father and I ran through a list of names of players who could be considered the ‘Tim Tebow’ of hockey. The basic criteria is “high draft pick” “even though nobody thought he would be real good” “loved by a certain segment of the sports media” “disliked by most other fans” “can’t play his position” “still gets discussed a lot”.”"

    Sound more like Brayden Schenn.. Johnson doesn’t have much of a fanclub outside the very few in Columbus and the hockey media ignores him.

    Schenn, on the other hand, has a minority of hockey media slobbering over him, despite that he doesn’t score, can’t fight, is a black hole of a two way player and dives.

  6. Utilizing Dean Lombardi quotes as though they have meaning is ludicrous. The guy has no filter, hyperbolizes everything, and is one of the biggest blowhards in hockey. But thank goodness he built the team that won the LA the Cup!!!

  7. Fans in LA, despite loving JJ, knew immediately that trading him away was the best move made all season. It’s a shame though, because generally speaking, he’s a likable guy. But, you don’t need advanced stats to see how bad he is in his own zone, and unfortunately, that tends to be where it really matters for a defenseman.

  8. Dion Phaneuf is the Tim Tebow of the NHL, in my opinion. A good rookie year, then plummeted after that.

  9. What’s really annoying about this overrated buffoon is his over the top flag waving. It’s like he doesn’t understand that Team America was satire. America! Fuck Yah!
    go to his site, there’s Jack wearing many Team USA hockey jerseys. Perhaps like the Bruce Springsteen song, he realizes those were his glory years.

    The same guy who along with Kessler was mouthing off about how Team USA hated Canada in the Olympics. pitiful.
    and he might want to invest in a helmet that fits his pointy head a little better.

  10. Noone is the tim Tebow of the NHL, Simple as that… the closest you’ll find is steve mason, but noone in the nhl is as polarizing for being so talentless… so Tebowmania takes it all, while Mason Madness… well.. i’m sure some of you were like.. oh yeah, forgot about that guy.. in three years tim tebow will be the new Wildcat formation

  11. Erik.Johnson I thought when I think #1 overall draft pick, he too was traded, but he has no following, but not many bad players do..

  12. Cam – I think you’re capable of writing a much more thoughtful, insightful and value-added article. I see absolutely no correlation between Tebow and JMFJ. Were you experiencing a slow news day? Sorry but this one heads straight to the garbage can.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *