Marc Bergevin

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.


Friedman’s column, January 28th: NHL GMs deal with double trade deadline


Friedman opens this weeks 30 Thoughts by laying out the concept of this season’s “double trade deadline.” There’s the trade freeze right before the Olympics, and the actual deadline – Elliotte explains how the first one becomes another trade deadline of sorts with these paragraphs:

NHL players, whether in Sochi or at a poolside bar, get paid on Feb. 15, right in the middle of a stretch with no games played.

The season is 195 days (Oct. 1 to April 13), with 16 of them during the freeze. Sixteen into 195 is a little above eight per cent. So let’s say you have a $5-million skater available for trade. He’s going to collect $410,000 during the freeze. How much does your owner care about that? Some won’t, not at all. But some will, affecting both buyers and sellers.

Let’s say your owner does care. If he’s got a tradable commodity, does he push the general manager to get something done? “Hey, if we’re going to deal him anyway, why don’t we do it now? Let the new team handle this.”

Oh, so Thomas Vanek is getting traded earlier rather than later, noted.

I love trades. You love trades. Unless you’re a GM or one of these players, we’ve all got some good times ahead.


10 Thoughts

2. It’s sensible for San Jose to try this. But Boyle’s better move is to wait. He’s a right-handed shot who can move the puck and those aren’t easy to find. If he finishes well, he easily could get three years in free agency. Now let’s say Wilson goes for two years at a little less than market, which is what Marleau and Thornton took. Would that get it done?

As NHL players get older, the decisions become entirely different…and GMs know it. If Boyle, at the current caliber player he is, were 27 or so, there’s no doubt he’d be going to free agency to Get Dat Money. But at this point, 35-year-old Dan Boyle has Got Dat Money. He’ll have earned $54,137,496 over 13 years (an average of $4.16 a season over that time). We obviously don’t know Boyle’s financial status, but assuming it’s okay (which seems safe) gives the Sharks leverage. Because the next list of priorities – chance to win, a comfortable place to live and play, loyalty to those who’ve been loyal to you, job security and all that – are right there in San Jose. And I didn’t even mention getting to wear shorts in November.

Not having to move and having a chance to win and living in San Jose, boy…if I’m Dan Boyle I’d probably take a surprisingly low dollar amount to get three more years from the Sharks, assuming they were playing hardball. What, he’s gonna leave to take an extra mill-per in Toronto? It’s minus 20 here today.

9. Thomas Vanek told Newsday’s Arthur Staple he would consider re-signing with the New York Islanders, even if he was traded by them. The same theory exists around Matt Moulson, who’s been a good fit in Buffalo, although you never know what happens once a player leaves (leaving any kind of paper trail is a really bad idea, too). A lot of teams like Moulson. As for Vanek, the St. Louis Blues were in on him back in October. I can’t see why that wouldn’t be the case again.

Cynic that I am, I can’t read this without feeling a twinge of “c’mon now.” I understand that a player is more likely to sign somewhere he’s been and likes, but we’re looking at two 30-year-old Cup-less players that are due paydays. Nothing about the notoriously stingy New York Islanders makes sense for Vanek aside from “liked the guys, playing with Tavares is fun” (there are good guys everywhere, remember), and I just can’t see Matt Moulson re-upping with a team that won’t be good for a few years without getting massively overpaid (not impossible). It’s great that those guys are liking where they’re at, really. But if they aren’t inked by the deadline, I can’t see them wearing those same sweaters next season.

14. If they miss the playoffs, the Coyotes are going to hunt down every tick in Arizona. Shane Doan had 20 points in 18 games before getting Rocky Mountain spotted fever (carried by ticks). He’s got four points in his last nine games. It’s just so hard to miss that much time while everyone else plays and keep up. Maybe the Olympic reset helps.

Elliotte is entirely right about how hard it is to miss significant time mid-season, then jump back in. You’re always just barely a quarter-step behind, and it takes a lot of work to catch up. The good news is, missing time mid-season for an older player is probably a good thing if they do make playoffs. All the little nagging stuff can heal while your body gets right.

THAT SAID…37-year-old Shane Doan is probably a 50-60 point player if he gets in 82 games, and I’m being generous based on his early production. Honestly, I’d say 0.5 points-per-game-ish from here out wouldn’t be an unreasonable expectation for him, so it’s not like he’s come back and been useless compared to what we should expect from him.

15. TVA’s Louis Jean reported Monday that the Montreal Canadiens turned down a proposal from Colorado: Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau for Rene Bourque. That’s a weird one because it doesn’t at all fit what the Avalanche are doing. Bourque is not a match for their speed game and Colorado wanted to address its defence. I could see Montreal being interested in Parenteau, though.

If you’re a team that has speed, ala Colorado, you’re probably less prone to be looking for it. You have to be able to play multiple ways in playoffs, so maybe they were looking to get sturdier rather than to double-down on something they already excel at. (Though, obviously, they do need some quality d-men.) I’d argue that the trade makes less sense for Montreal. I fail to see how you can look at their lineup and think “What we need is a just-six-foot-tall forward leaving his prime that’s an average-at-best skater. That’ll fix it.”

16. I had a funny conversation with a coach a few years back about what happens when someone like Paul Maurice goes into Winnipeg and has immediate success with the same lineup. “Everybody else who is losing panics,” he laughed, “because all of a sudden, your owner is thinking, ‘If a coaching change helped them that much, maybe we should do it, too.’”

The Jets starting 6-1 made me think a few things, the foremost of which is that they probably needed a new coach. And I’m not saying they needed Paul Maurice, I’m saying they needed any new coach. And I like Noel.

When a team gets a new coach, they players enter “tryout phase.” The new guy who holds their ice time, linemates and in turn their future in his hands gets his first look at everyone up close and personal, so everyone has a ton of incentive to try their bags off and impress him. Some teams are so bad that “everyone trying their bags off” makes little difference, but if you get a team in that phase that starts winning, there seems to be some implication that the previous coach wasn’t successfully getting them motivated to work hard enough. Maybe the Jets roster is better than we thought, they’re just a tough group to motivate. Hell, when they got a sniff of playoffs last season and had incentive, they sure seemed to find a way to be tough to beat. They won five straight in April coming down the stretch and got into the mix.

18. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, as usual, is looking for size. So are the Pittsburgh Penguins. According to one source, they “don’t want to get any smaller.”

But Rene Bourque for P.A. Parenteau. Maybe that’s the rare proposal that’d make both teams worse.
19. I wondered if it was a coincidence that Edmonton moved Sam Gagner to wing when Pittsburgh came to town, considering the Penguins are looking for a winger (with term remaining on his contract) to replace the injured Pascal Dupuis. Assuming they do want “big,” that’s not a fit. But it’s good to see Gagner producing a bit, with 10 points in 13 games this month. Word is the jaw is much more of a problem than we realize because it wouldn’t take much for a re-injury. Maybe he’s finally getting comfortable.

Yes, I intend to weigh in anytime someone mentions jaws.

I said this about Burrows not that long ago, but not only is it hard to see through the jaw protector, it’s the scariest freaking thing ever knowing that your yet fully-unknit bones are supposed to go into the corner with Unpredictable Player A and come out with the puck. Seriously, it’s so easy to let that guy get there first and try to steal the puck from him, or hit him instead of taking the contact…which means your opponent gets first touch and the puck is often going the wrong way. I didn’t feel comfortable biting an apple for like a year after my jaw shattered, long after they told me I could, let alone playing hockey against monsters on skates.

20. I asked a couple of teams if they saw Gagner as more of a centre or a winger. The answer was pretty quick: centre. They feel he’s not suited to play the wall.

I give wingers a hard time about their job being easy, because on D it comparatively is, but it takes a different type of “tough” to successfully play the position, especially on breakouts. You can play center well in the d-zone if you’re someone who can play the “mirror game” well (change directions quickly) and you’re strong on your skates, like Sidney Crosby. You don’t need to be a monster, you need to be a hard-ass worker who can win puck battles. After that all you support low and switch to offense. Wingers, man, you just get thumped with raw muscle that’s trying make you do something rushed. As “easy” as your job is, it’s not often centermen are asked to make a play or get the puck out while standing flat-footed while 1-2 players are choo-choo-training in your direction. Some players – maybe that includes Gagner – just aren’t cut out for making reflexive plays and getting pummelled.

21. I thought of golfer Mike Weir after hearing Martin Brodeur rip the ice conditions after Sunday’s outdoor game at Yankee Stadium. Weir would often blame spike marks on the green for bad rounds and a reporter who knew him well explained Weir was taught by a sports psychologist to do so to protect his confidence, which could be fragile. Now Brodeur has never, ever, lacked for self-belief. But this is different. We’re getting near the end of a magnificent career and you can see it isn’t easy for him. He still wants to play. But after a game like that, he knows the New Jersey Devils will want to lean on Schneider, who’s been excellent. It’s his time.

I agree that it’s Cory Schneider’s time (here’s what Ryan Lambert wrote about that this morning), but it is kind of a bummer. Still, I think that stuff Elliotte’s talking about with Weir and sports psychology is crap. Not that sports psychology is crap, exhale you defensive folk, but the idea that making excuses for your failures somehow protects your confidence. In my experience it’s the total opposite. If I’m feeling truly good about my game I can own my suckage. If I start backpedaling too much, rest-assured I’m not that confident. If I start making excuses or outright lying (Weir) about why I failed, I’d feel like a fraud. SIGMUND FRAUD. And that wouldn’t benefit me in the least.

25. If you hate outdoor games, especially warm-weather ones, be prepared to self-combust. Nothing we saw last weekend in Los Angeles is going to convince Phoenix or San Jose or anyone else interested not to have one (NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is on record as saying his one warm-weather worry is Florida). I’ve been to every one of these, except Dodger Stadium, and I believe it more than ever – each NHL market should get a hosting opportunity.

I don’t hate them, I can just see myself caring next to zero percent if we get beat over the head with them. But Elliotte’s almost certainly right: these things are a cash cow, and each market can find some unique spin on it – Hey we’re in Phoenix for the all-cowboy outdoor game, where the puck is dropped by a horse and the benches are made of cactus! So, whatever. Until they’re back in the same markets so long that they lose the unique angle – Hey, were back in Phoenix for the fourth year! This year the puck is a scorpion and OH GOD IT GOT HIM, KEITH YANDLE IS IN ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK – I’m down with it.