Archive for the ‘10 Thoughts’ Category

David Clarkson4

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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.

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Friedman’s column, April 7th: Evander Kane too valuable for Jets to give up on

Opening:

Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts piece opened with a pretty clean thought: Evander Kane is worth too much between his age, size, ability and contract to just give up on.

I wrote a post yesterday where I allowed myself the type of pure speculation you and your buddies do when you’re talking sports, because frankly, that’s what everyone behind the scenes is saying. That speculation was that Kane has obviously messed up a few times (whether that means being late for team events or whatever, Maurice has hinted at it), there seems to be some friction between him and the organization, and it seems like he wants out.

As Friedman says, that doesn’t mean he gets out, and I agree it’s worth making every effort to keep him. I guess it just remains to be seen if he’s willing to mature into a guy who wants to be a part of what they’re building in Manitoba or not. If he’s miserable and they’re not willing to move him, you’d expect to see more flare ups like this over the next four years, and that means more trade rumblings.

10 Thoughts

3. Whenever we get close to the end of a season, you hear the usual rumours about potential changes on the bench and in front offices. I try to be very careful about this stuff, because it isn’t always accurate. There’s a lot of it this year, more than normal. One of the difficulties with predicting change is how one dismissal affects others. There are a couple of current coaches with the potential to create a domino effect. The first is going to be Barry Trotz. If the Predators make a change, there is going to be a lot of interest. There are teams who think he will benefit from a fresh start and more offensive punch.

It would be really interesting to see what Barry Trotz could do with an offensive lineup. I feel like coaches in Trotz’s situation – running a lower budgeted team without pure offensive talents to frequent success (think Dave Tippett) – are comparable to GMs who do well with a shoestring budget, then get the chance to spend big with a new team, and don’t have success.

I believe it was Glen Sather, once the GM of the Oilers, who made noise about what he could do with the NY Rangers budget. I wouldn’t say it’s been an endless downpour of Cups there since.

Some coaches are really great at getting the most out of teams that don’t have the raw talent, and part of that is convincing them that because they don’t have the Crosbys on their team they need to be better positionally. If he suddenly went somewhere that did have offensive tools, could he get the team to play as responsibly? Would he succeed at utilizing his firepower, or feel more inclined to chain it up the way he’s gotten Nashville to be good over the past handful of years? Read the rest of this entry »

james reimer cool

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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.

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Friedman’s column, March 24th: Leafs’ Reimer should follow Cammalleri’s lead

Opening:

Friedman’s opening this week centered on the plight of James Reimer, and how he could use a little dose of that “eff you” that Mike Cammalleri has shown over the past few weeks. Friedman explained how Cammalleri expected to be dealt to a contender at the deadline, but nobody traded for him despite the fact that he was available. (Overpriced and underperforming, as he was.)

Since the deadline, Cammalleri has killed it, scoring nine goals and 15 points in 10 games (impressive when you consider he only has 37 points on the season). Friedman explained how he sees that run as a bit of an “eff you” to those GMs. True or not, he believes that Reimer, in a situation where the Leafs have shown no respect or trust for him, could use a dose of “eff you” attitude himself coming down the homestretch, only towards the Leafs’ brass.

reimer benchI wrote something similar Monday morning about starting Reimer Tuesday night. If I may quote myself – I do agree with myself fairly often – “Reimer could very well post a classic “eff you coach” game tomorrow night and get hot, and that’s the Leafs best chance at winning six or seven of their next nine games, which they’ll likely need to do.” As in, if he starts playing for himself and changes his mindset, he could pull his mental dune-buggy out of the muddy bog.

My one addendum to Reimer’s situation is that it’s one thing to be “proving a point” on a team that overvalued you (a compliment) and kept you a la Cammalleri, and another to feel like an outsider on the inside of your own dressing room. “Eff these guys” – even if it only means the coaching staff and management – doesn’t feel very good, and isn’t something that’s a part of Reimer’s natural pet-all-the-puppies disposition.

10 Thoughts

2. Carlyle is taking heat as his team hits the iceberg, but last Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to Tampa proved the players must take greater responsibility for their own defensive mindset. There’s no coach in the world who doesn’t prepare his team for Steven Stamkos. The Lightning’s franchise player scored three times, without being bothered in the process. Toronto is fun to watch, but that game hammered home the point that this style isn’t going to work long-term. Prediction: at least one of the more offensive-minded players goes somewhere else this summer for a defensively stout replacement.

We’ll get to the prediction at the end, but first the “style” stuff: the most damning thing I can say about Randy Carlyle’s Leafs is that it looks like they’re playing shinny, which means one of four things:

1) The players aren’t listening to him. He’s put a system in place but his guys skirt it at will so it looks like a ball hockey session in gym class. Not good. Read the rest of this entry »

j torts

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.

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Friedman’s column, March 12th: Canucks brass much resist panic

Opening:

Elliotte’s opening is dose of common sense applied to a franchise losing their grip on reality: maybe don’t fire the coach and GM who both have four years left on deals you just gave them?

Here’s where he really hit it out of the park, referring to what ownership should be asking itself:

And the biggest, most important ones: How bad are we, really? Are we playing the right way to maximize our talent? Did the Sedins, almost point-a-game players last season, simply fall off a cliff? If, for example, they changed coaches right now, is there someone who can make an appreciable difference?

Ownership is nervous. I get that. The Heritage Classic was a financial disappointment, and Canucks fans have a history of staying away when things go bad. Ticket renewals were delayed and there is concern revenue will drop if no human sacrifice is offered.

What’s worse is firing someone just for the show of it. Bad, panic decisions lead to worse, panic decisions. Then your ticket renewals are more than a one-season problem.

Yup. The team is having a tough go of it right now. But the terrible, terrible decision to ever, EVER, give any coach a five year deal was made in the summer, so you can’t just cut ties and jump. When you commit to a deal like that, it’s a bit of a marriage – you’ve committed to thick and thin. Leaving at the first hint of “thin” is more of a reflection of your own weakness.

10  Thoughts

3. It is believed the six teams to which Kesler would accept a deal at the deadline were Anaheim, Chicago, Colorado, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. Only two — the Ducks and Penguins — were really in it, though.

Read the rest of this entry »

jeff carter goal

#1

The jerseys, man. (Look, we went over this yesterday, we’ll get to the hockey. Gimme a sec here.) Those black Canadian jerseys. Thoughts:

jerzzz* They’re not awful. As far as jersey’s go, they’re fairly inoffensive and cool.

* Wait, did I say inoffensive? Because they have a Nazi armband, which is probably the opposite of inoffensive. I can’t think of the word…non-inoffensive? I’m sure that’s it. Anyway, you gotta go with two arm stripes, or none. You can’t wear a Nazi armband in international competition and expect not to get called out on it. Not cool, bro. Not cool.

* Imagine you’re Matt Duchene. You’re going to play in the friggin’ Olympics for the first time in your life. Wow. You’re getting a regular shift beside Getzlaf and Perry. You might have one game to prove you belong in the lineup and not the pressbox. And if it doesn’t go perfectly and you end up scratched, you may not get back in. Coaches rarely changes lineups after wins. So this might be your only Olympic game, ever. In your life. Here’s your black jersey with a Nazi armband, kid. Just like you always dreamed.*

*Note: yes, I’m aware he likely gives zero sh**s about the sweater.
Just let me pretend it’s a thing.

#2

Corey Perry’s hand-eye coordination continues to stand out amongst a bunch of dudes with great hand-eye every time I watch him. To set up the Shea Weber’s goal he hand to knock down a cross-ice pass at knee height with one hand, which wasn’t a problem (then holy pineapple mittens did Shea Weber capital-b Bomb that). Yesterday he made a play where he knocked the puck out of the air. He’s scored multiple baseball-style goals in the NHL. Keep an eye out for it – I’m guessing dude didn’t strike out much in Little League.

#3

P.K. Subban and Matt Duchene were basically forced into the role of “frequent healthy scratch guy” today, and it’s a crippling way to play if your strengths are on the offensive side of the puck. Coaches notice when their fringe guys turn the puck over, so all they want them to do is play safe. But if you’re specialty is creating offense, you have to take some risks. So you’re in a situation where the coach expects you to produce risk-free offense. Good luck with that. In the first period, both Subban and Duchene dumped pucks in, which you almost never see from them in the NHL. But you know they got to the bench and got their butt-pats for their Good Ol Canadian Smart Hockey. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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

Opening:

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.

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

torts mad

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.

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Friedman’s column, January 21st: Nothing wrong with starting fourth line in NHL

Opening:

Naturally, Elliotte led this week’s “30 Thoughts” post off with a bit on coaches starting fourth lines, and how it’s not really that rare or that awful an idea. I myself have played for a couple coaches who enjoyed it (including one in college, oddly), though not necessarily for the purpose of face-punching. Friedman was basically explaining that coaches do this, and it’s not a big deal.

However…

Monday was Calgary’s 26th road game of the season. Here is the number of times each Flames forward was a starter on those nights: Matt Stajan (15); Lee Stempniak (14); Mike Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross (9); Mikael Backlund (7); David Jones (6); Jiri Hudler (5); Lance Bouma, Paul Byron and TJ Galiardi (2); Sven Baertschi, Joe Colborne, Blair Jones, McGrattan, Sean Monahan, Ben Street and Kevin Westgarth (1).

Oh. Oh yeah, this isn’t something the Flames ever do.

Like Julien and Eakins, there’s nothing wrong with trying something new or different. If the puck is dropped and we get actual play before something happens, Hartley and the Flames escape punishment.

Totally agree: if these thugs play so much as nine seconds of hockey before dancing, there’s no fine. It’s the obvious, premeditated use of low-liners as fighters that’s the issue.

10 Thoughts

3. I don’t see the Flames a ton, so their morning skate was really interesting to me. In 2003, when I covered baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays said they never saw a team work harder in batting practice than the Detroit Tigers when Alan Trammell managed them. Detroit was rebuilding and I asked Trammell about it. He said no opportunity was too small to teach a young team to play properly. That’s Calgary right now. Hartley runs the most detailed morning skates I’ve seen. Saturday, there were 3-on-3 down-low drills and pretty specific zone coverage work.

A real eye-opener for me after leaving college was the utter lack of time for professional hockey teams to practice. Even in the ECHL, where you play 10 less games than NHL teams, there’s next to no chance to actually put your team through a good day of systems and skating. It’s always the day after a game, or the day before a game, and you’re constantly trying to avoid burning out the legs of your players. But, if you want to coach them – actually teach them stuff they need drilled into their thick skulls through straight rote learning – morning skates are a good opportunity to do that. I’ve got no issue with a non-playoff coach using that time to further educate his group. (Though, trust me on this, the guys b**ch about it to each other. Morning skates on some teams are a breeze.) Read the rest of this entry »

Paul Maurice

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.

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Friedman’s column, January 13th: Jets coach Paul Maurice has tough task ahead

Opening:

Friedman’s opening this week centered on the task ahead for Paul Maurice, which is more or less “make a team with average talent good.” He highlights that there doesn’t seem to be any name players available that they could trade for, so he’s more or less going to have the roster he has until next summer. It ain’t going to be easy.

He also talks about how some other coaches are waiting to see what comes available this summer, and how Maurice is “betting on himself” by taking the Jets job now and “jumping the queue” by doing so. Personally, I think you’d have to be mighty, mighty, MIGHTY confident you’re going to be hired for one of the roles that opens up this summer (assuming X amount do), because there’s only 30 head coaching jobs in the league, and most people, when offered one, are smart not to hold out for the perfect one. You don’t know that it’ll ever show up, so “tough road ahead” is better than sitting on the couch.

10 Thoughts

3. If I ran the Jets, I would not trade Kane unless the return was massive. A 22-year-old 30-goal scorer locked-in at $5.25 million US is an extremely valuable piece. Last year, Kane played hard down the stretch despite a wrist injury. This year, there’s been some weird stuff. He left Saturday’s pre-game skate after 10-15 minutes with his hand injury, much to the surprise of teammates and coaches. He called himself a healthy scratch when sat for a game earlier, when the team didn’t think he was available because he hadn’t practised. This is a big test for Maurice.

I’ve been digging around about the Jets because I’m curious about the validity of the things being written about them. Every other week Gary Lawless has an article calling for the head of Dustin Byfuglien on a pike, and just the other day Mark Spector wrote a post claiming both Kane and Byfuglien need to get their s*** together (my phrasing). Basically, what I’ve heard is that those things seem to be somewhat true – the star players were over-coddled by Claude Noel, Kane still has some maturing to do, and things do need to change.

Because I totally agree with Elliotte about the idea of trading a 22-year-old 30-goal scoring making nickels (maybe don’t?), I think Kane will be Maurice’s biggest challenge. One thing I know about spoiled players is that they aren’t a fan of coaches who come in and draw a hard line. So if that’s what they need, you risk creating a divide (doghouse!), and being forced to trade a guy below his market value. So yeah: the Jets new coach has his work cut out for him with a couple of his stars. Read the rest of this entry »