2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One

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 editionNHL players in Sochi Olympics won’t come cheap (Full Friedman edition here.)

Friedman’s column, April 16th: Craig MacTavish poised to shake up Oilers

Opening:

Edmonton is trying a new tactic: firing the GM, with the new boss openly coming at the roster.

“I’m an impatient guy and I bring that impatience to this situation. We’re at the stage… that we have to do some bold things,” Craig MacTavish said at Monday’s news conference introducing him as the Oilers’ new GM. “We have to expose ourselves to some semblance of risk to try and move the team forward in a rapid fashion. We’ve got a lot of primary pieces here, but we’ve got to add some depth to help these young players.

Yes! I’m so excited for this. Well, I’m not excited, because I think MacTavish is a cerebral dude who’s going to make the Oilers better (and I could do without another run of successful Oilers), but I mean this part:

MacTavish, who refused to blame Krueger, sounded a lot like Brian Burke during the latter’s first media conference in Toronto. He didn’t use the word “truculent” but the message is similar: I’m impatient and we’re going to do something about it.

I thought the exact same thing when I first read that quote. New Burke, far better than New Coke.

I thought the message MacT has delivered in his early comments since being named GM have been exactly what the Oilers have needed to realize: yes, it’s neato super cool to have some good young talent, but they just don’t seem like a difficult team to play right now, and could use an injection of what I believe baseball humans call “want” from more guys than Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov. And, I have no doubt that he’ll be able to find it at some point.

Now, just as long as he doesn’t do anything too crazy…

***

3. Yakupov: This is purely my opinion, but I think Edmonton would listen to a massive offer. It’s nothing against the player, it’s more about circumstance. To get quality, you have to give up quality. If MacTavish really wants to make a bold, aggressive move, this is the name on the roster that fits. But the trade would have to be spectacular.

Oh boy. Okay, first and foremost: I get what Elliotte’s saying. They have some great young skill up front, desperately need D and other pieces, so it makes sense to spend where you have some excess to fill holes where you’re lacking.

HOWEVER. There are certain talents that put you above and beyond other teams, and you generally need them to win the big prize. Your Crosby’s and Toews’ and Datsyuk’s and so on. I realize teams with top-10 elite talent don’t always win the Stanley Cup…but they usually do. From what I’ve seen, I think Nail Yakupov is elite. I dunno about top-10 elite, but it wouldn’t surprise me. He’s just so, so solid on his finishes, and has that fire. I know Elliotte said the deal would have to be spectacular, but I mean…I don’t even know if that word’s big enough.

4. I do think Steve Tambellini was allowed to make his own decisions, but by the end, Kevin Lowe (and MacTavish) clearly didn’t believe in them. The most interesting thing about Monday’s media conference was how different Lowe and MacTavish sounded. Lowe talked about past accomplishments, MacTavish looked towards the future — saying repeatedly how much the game has changed. There was criticism for going “same old, same old” in Edmonton, but MacTavish came across very differently. This could be a very interesting dynamic.

I want to address the first part most: “I do think Steve Tambellini was allowed to make his own decisions, but by the end, Kevin Lowe (and MacTavish) clearly didn’t believe in them.” I’d be more worried about a dynamic like that than I would be about the Lowe/MacT situation.

When it comes to management positions, I think it’s advantageous to have confident people who are unafraid to pull the trigger and move on, and if you’re in a situation where you don’t have support from others around you, it’s awfully tough to get anything done. With a team on the verge as the Oilers seem to be, it’s probably a good timing to make the switch in leadership.

5. Best omen for Oilers fans: when MacTavish coached, players said his best skill was quickly determining how good someone was — or wasn’t.

Welp, that seems like a handy skill for a GM to have.

Okay, enough Oilers.

10. Jean-Sebastien Giguere on the fallout from his comments: “I don’t regret doing it… Well, I regret the Vegas thing, that’s it,” he said during a phone conversation last Thursday. “Obviously, the Vegas thing was a little much… I will do stuff with my family (in the off-season), no doubt.” Also: “It’s not like I think my game is perfect and nobody else’s is. I have to be better too.”

I really wish Giguere didn’t regret his Vegas comments at all, because I know exactly what he’s talking about. I’ve been the guy making the plans who’s mentally checked out (girlfriends will do that), and I deserved to get told what’s up the time it happened. It’s just too easy to get out of the season, to start looking a couple weeks down the road, and when you mentally check out like that, you don’t realize how much it seeps into your demeanor and general conversations throughout your day. It’s good to pull guys back down to earth.

17. Speaking of Briere, if Philadelphia does buy him out (as has been widely reported), would the Sabres bring him back? It’s a good family fit for him, they need experience and it would give the fans something to be happy about. He helped Sean Couturier’s NHL adjustment and Buffalo will be full of young guys seeking that aid.

I like the idea of the experienced ol’ vet teaching a young buck the ropes and all that, but I’m just not having it. Yes, I’ve played with older guys I admired who worked hard and inspired me to want to at least live up to their level of effort, but I’ve just never personally seen a case where one older guy really focuses on another and helps them through their rookie season or anything, save for what Mario Lemieux did for Sidney Crosby, if you want to count that.

My point is, under no circumstance would I trade for a guy in hopes that he can play mentor. I want NHL players. You can hire someone who doesn’t require TOI to dole out advice.

18. That quote by Craig MacTavish about the problem not being coaching in Edmonton? Same goes for Buffalo. Same problems under Ron Rolston that existed with Lindy Ruff. The Sabres need more forwards committed to defending and winning battles. Their defence don’t get a lot of help.

This I tooootally agree with. It was hard at the time with Buffalo, because they just. kept. losing, and there didn’t seem to be an obvious solution. When that happens, the scope generally fixes itself on the head coach.

But you can’t put an AHL team on the ice and have it compete. Not that Buffalo has an AHL lineup, I’m just saying, there’s only so much a coach can do with a roster. Sometimes, it’s the GM who needs to shake things up, and not by taking the easy “quick fix” of a head coach swap.

19. That brings us to Tyler Myers. I’ve written it before, but his biggest problem is he places way too much pressure on himself and can’t let go of mistakes. He and the Sabres feel they are finally making progress on that issue. You can’t question his compete level when he plays 26 minutes on a night where he broke his leg. He needs to fill out his frame, yes, but the mental side is the most important.

Hey neat, I’m a mental-case of a player who can’t let mistakes go too. That’s always healthy. (That last part was a lie.)

Interesting to hear this identified as a problem, but it makes a lot of sense. Rare to see a player have so much success so young, have the same (if not better) tools, then regress this early in their career. I know a lot of bloggers like to write off the mental side of the game (or rather, the fact that it’s not quantifiable), but players deal with very real issues that often need clearing up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Myers return to form or surpass his play in the past as he matures. Definitely not a guy to write off.

20. Patrick Kaleta, on the dressing-room corner he shares with Steve Ott: “The most hated corner in the league.”

Man, this is terrible. This is like two friends in middle school finding out that hey, I too like mutilating stray cats. You know what’d be cooler than a stray cat? A human baby.

I feel like they’re going to become super-villains.

21. Yes, I did ask Ott about the lick to Jeff Halpern. He laughed. “I was just [bleeping] with him.”

That’s the most obvious, most likely, most enjoyable scenario here. And I believe it.

25. The word on the San Jose Sharks, after all their trades: “Much faster. Rejuvenated.”

They got rid of Douglas Murray – that’ll get the job done.