Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own topic.

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Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own topic.

Postby Lloyd Braun » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:54 pm

Friends, board-regulars, brain-dead masses, I have something to say and it’s going to be a long one. If you can’t handle that, please feel free to skip away to another topic. TL:DRs won’t do this one any justice. Because of the length, I felt it made more sense to put it in its own topic, as a number of other posters have done.

This is one of those rants that would be a lot easier if I were more of a regular poster hereabouts. I mostly lurk. When I have posted, it’s usually because I’ve been pissed right off at a few posters around here and their constant brain-deadness. Usually, it’s mostly to tell RoyalDude that he should do himself a favour, join the army, and get a free trip to Afghanistan.* Usually, I regret those posts as soon as my frustration cools. I don’t want to be known as the guy who only posts to bitch, and I understand that dumb people, for the most part, really can’t help it. Generally, I can’t stand posters who mostly complain about other posters, but here I am again, joining the foul-weather ranters. Maybe it’s because I quit smoking yesterday, so I’m in a bitchy mood. I don’t know. But this one feels different than other rants in the past. I’m not aiming this post only at the comatose segment of the board, but also at a number of posters who I respect. ‘Canuck nation’ has always been full of panicking idiots, but this year, it’s full of panicking usually-reasonable-people as well. There are, of course, exceptions – those who have stood tall in defense of rationality – but they seem to be the minority. This is the board I choose to read because, in the past, voices of reason haven’t been so few and far between.

Want to know another thing I can’t stand? I can’t stand people who believe that the second they get emotional, it is virtuous to forgo all rational thought and replace it with whatever their gut tells them is true. I can’t stand when those people claim that they are truer fans then their thinking brethren because of willful ignorance. I’m a life-long fan as much as anybody else on this board. I’m disappointed by this year as much as anybody else. When I was six years old and all my friends were driving their parents nuts by re-watching The Little Mermaid over, and over, and over again on VHS, I instead had a tape of my beloved Canucks beating the Jets like a drum. Flipping through old results, I’d bet it was the 8-2 win on Jan 13, 1988. Kids love a happy ending, and I took a special glee every time I saw those pitiful Jets slink their way off the ice, totally defeated. On the other side of the coin, my first crystal-clear memory was, as with many around my age, 1994. I was ten years old when game seven happened. I wore the jersey I had bought the previous September, which still hangs in my closet, which I still wear every time I go to a game. For the entirety of the overtime, I stood two feet from the TV. Nervous anticipation drove me to dance from one tiptoe to the other, as if I had to piss like a pint-sized racehorse. I was absolutely certain that we would win, that my hero, Pavel Bure, would score the winning goal, and I’d see a beaten-but-never-broken Trevor Linden accept the cup. My head didn’t tell me that; my gut did: a perfectly reasonable thing… for a ten-year-old. When Messier scored, I collapsed to my knees, covered my face with my hands, and cried, and cried, and cried. I remember it as if it were just last year. So, you see, I get emotional. I’m emotional now. I’m worried about my team. I’m fearful that this season may be a harbinger of things to come. But when I ask why this is happening, I remember that I’m now thirty years old. I use my brain, not my gut.

At times like this, I wish I was more of a regular poster here, rather than 98% lurker, 2% angry ranter. It would be nice to be able to, Thinker-style, quote myself for all the “here’s what I thought at the start of the year”, but I can’t. You’ll just have to deal with it, and take my word that these had been my thoughts.

I have a close friend who, more than with any other friends, I like to share my fandom with. On opening day, in what’s become a bit of a tradition, we hiked down to the pub to watch the game. We talked about our expectations for the upcoming season, and they went something like this: I said I was worried because I didn’t know what to expect. I figured that the most likely place we’d end up is between 5th and 8th in the conference standings – we were a good, but not great team, clearly better than half the teams in the league, and clearly worse than a quarter. But, for the first time since Gillis’ rookie season as GM, I believed that there was a reasonable chance we’d miss the playoffs. My friend replied that she felt that way every year because “fuck, it’s the Canucks, am I right?” I successfully resisted the urge to pat her on the head and say “D’awwwwww, isn’t that cute.” I’m often a condescending prick in the comfort of my own mind, but usually not out loud… unless I’m in the midst of nicotine withdrawal. Instead, I named two possible causes for the potential derailment of our team which had not existed in previous years. The first was that any time there’s a new coach and a new system, there’s a chance for things to go wrong. This is especially true when the previous coach had such a long tenure. Realistically, we had no way of knowing if AV’s systems and coaching style had helped or hurt the guys who had only ever had him as an NHL coach (or, like the twins, were just coming into their prime when he took over). There was no point of comparison. I liked the Torts hire, but regardless of who had been hired, replacing AV was a (necessary) roll of the dice. The second possibility was that our team’s greatest Achilles heel, our depth, would be exposed in a major way by injuries and/or individual sub-par performances.

I think many people around here drastically under-estimate the degree to which the cap reduction had handcuffed our team. Personally, I was shocked when the new CBA was released and the cap had been reduced by nearly 10% without any corresponding rollback in existing contracts. The previous CBA had been parcelled with a rollback, and while I can see why the players fought so hard against a similar deal this time around, this deal had the effect of actively punishing teams who had locked up their cores to multi-year deals – which is, under normal circumstances, a good thing. Out of all teams in the league, the Canucks were hurt the most. Last off-season was painful to watch, but I found it hard to argue with the moves Gillis made. I think there was one key decision point which dictated the direction of every subsequent move: Was it better to hang onto as much of the core as possible, despite the obvious depth problem that would be the result of having zero flexibility in signing complimentary players? Or, was it better to trade away some high-salary pieces in order maintain the depth? Both options were gambles, and Gillis chose option #1.

Was it the right decision? Obviously, hindsight suggests it might not have been, but I’d argue that it was the decision that made the most sense. I mentioned that the Canucks were badly hurt by the new CBA, but we were far from the only team in cap-crunch mode. This resulted in a dramatically skewed trade market, both during the off-season and also at last year’s deadline among non-rental players. With the exception of top guys, the free agent market was the cheapest it had been in recent memory, as a bunch of UFA contracts were signed that, any other year, would have been home-town discounts at best. Teams with space who were looking to upgrade could sign new players to fair contracts without losing assets. As a result, players previously signed to “fair-market” contracts saw their trade value shrivel up like George Costanza in the pool. Players with iffy contracts, which would have normally lowered their value, instead made them unmovable pieces. Lots of posters talk about how we’re in danger of becoming the Calgary Flames, but the real story of the Flames has been their unwillingness to move veteran pieces when value was high. If we had moved pieces last off-season, value would have been at an all-time low. It would have been our equivalent of the Phaneuf deal. Would that have really have made us LESS like the Flames?

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason why Luongo had some value a month ago and negative value nine months ago. It’s the reason our great ginger hope was traded at the draft. Once the decision had been made to hang onto the core, there was no chance of being able to retain two goalies at 4mil+ each, and no chance of Lu being the one to go. It sucked, but to paraphrase a certain former Canuck, it was what it was.

Roughly 1,500 words in and my preamble seems to be at an end, which brings me to everyone’s favourite topic: who’s to blame? “Gillis!!” scream the idiotic masses, unified in one voice, dripping with vitriol, hatred, and the fear that our team will spend the next decade doing their best impression of the 1970s Canucks. But is that reasonable? Some people seem to figure it’s a foregone conclusion. After-all, Nonis was canned by Aquilini because he missed the playoffs, right?

Wrong. Nonis was canned because, in a three year tenure, he missed the playoffs twice, and because he traded away a large number of long-term assets in a failed attempt to avoid failing. During that time, he had acquired a depressing number of players who never again made an NHL squad. After this season, Gillis will have spent six years in charge of our beloved franchise, in which time he will have missed the playoffs only once, but will have won two president’s trophies and reached a cup final. These records are not the least bit comparable.

But… but… but… what about this year? Surely, Gillis’ fall from grace was sharper than Nonis’ during his last year, right? Wrong again. Success in hockey, as with all professional sports, is partly about good planning and partly about good luck. The best decisions can have terrible results because of luck, or vice-versa. Gillis could have traded Ryan Kesler for a 6th round pick, drafted this generation’s Pavel Datsyuk with that pick, and it would be an positive result. Would that make it a good trade? Hell no. The only way to evaluate the performance of a GM is to examine the root causes of a team’s struggles and successes, not to see a team struggling, then knee-jerk kick the decision-maker square in the nuts, as so many non-thinking fans are doing to Gillis.

So, let’s look at root causes.

As I mentioned above, Gillis had a big decision to make during the off-season. Both paths required walking through a minefield. If he had chosen to make a bunch of trades in a weak market, it would’ve been a gamble made with the odds stacked against him. So, he didn’t do that. Instead, he tried to do something that has historically been a near-impossible task: filling out his depth-chart without the ability to take on salary and without giving up future assets. This was certainly easier with the weak free-agent market, but in a situation where $800,000 is too much and $600,000 is pushing it, even a weak market prices out any player that other teams feel would be an upgrade to their squads. Gillis had to build NHL depth out of players that were considered borderline NHLers, at best.

I remember Dave Nonis trying to do the same thing while the team shouldered the weight of under-performing contracts such as Naslund and Morrison. The result? During Nonis’ last season, our roster included pickups like Richie, Isbister, Cowan, and Shannon. If you ask me, Gillis looks pretty good in comparison with Richardson (1.15m, the big splurge), Weber (650k), Santorelli (550k, league minimum), Stanton (550k), and Dalpe (550k). Santorelli and Stanton in particular look like coups. To get those two guys for free, both of whom look like strong members of the team, both of whom are young, and both of whom make league minimum, is a very impressive accomplishment in the face of adversity.

“Okay,” some of you will say without thinking it through, “if Gillis’ decisions were so damn reasonable, how come we’re going to miss the playoffs?” If you ask me, there are three factors that have caused the team to be around five wins short of where I expected to see us. First, the production of the twins and Burrows didn’t merely decline as some had predicted; they fell off a cliff. Second, we have suffered an unprecedented number of injuries, with only Garrison playing every game. Third, our coach suffered a bout of temporary insanity and was suspended for a month just as the injuries were catching up to us, debatably turning a weak stretch into a tailspin. Is that enough to account for a five win difference? Damn right, it is. Were any of these three things predictable? Not unless Gillis moonlights as a psychic.

I mentioned how I was worried at the start of the year that our lack of depth would catch up to us if we suffered heavy injuries, or if we had unexpectedly poor individual performances among our stars who would be counted on more heavily without support from depth players. Guess what? Both of those happened to a far greater extent than I had imagined possible.

Many criticisms of the team, some of which appear perfectly reasonable on the surface, point to our abysmal record during third periods this season. Posters have pointed to a million different (mostly imagined) causes for this: everything from our players being too soft (or too European), to our coach losing the room (again), to our star players being mad at the GM and… losing on purpose… or something. But the most obvious factor has been missed in almost every post. Teams that lack depth tend to fade late in games. They rely on top guys too much, and have them playing too many minutes with too much responsibility, leading to a tired group by the third period, or during a busy stretch of the schedule. Guess what? That’s exactly what’s happened. Add in some random variation within a statistic that is of a relatively low sample size, add the fact that every team has a let down from time to time in such a balanced league, add the effect of an understandable collapse or two by a rookie goaltender (as in the infamous Isles game), and suddenly the weak third periods seem to make sense. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bad enough to raise an eyebrow and wonder about the cause, but not anywhere near enough to draw sweeping conclusions about heartlessness and a need to blow up the core, as many fans and posters have done.

To get us back to our main topic, if GMing is partly about good luck and partly about good management, where does Gillis fall? Luongo’s cap-recapture penalty suddenly being a thing two years after signing the deal? Luck. Injury, after injury, after injury? Luck. The Twins and Burrows falling off a cliff and struggling to score after years of consistency? Luck. It’s almost as if the Canucks couldn’t buy a break this year. But wait, that’s literally true. They had no cap-space with which to buy anything this off season – least of all, to buy enough depth to absorb the ludicrous number of injuries they’ve sustained.

I thought Gillis made a very telling comment during an interview following the Luongo deal. He said that the cap space he cleared by running with rookie goalies would allow him the freedom to pursue options at the trade deadline or during the off-season. In other words, he took a step to ensure he’d be able to rebuild our team depth next year. He realised, as I realised, as some other intelligent posters realised, that despite doing a surprisingly good job of repairing our depth using a stick of bubble-gum and a piece of string, he was going to need some actual cap-space if he was going to return our team to contention – something that I sincerely hope he’ll have a chance to do so because I have far more confidence in him than I would have in the vast majority of NHL GMs.

Now, I bet I can guess what the dumbasses of the board are thinking. It involves something about me drinking Kool-Aid and claiming that Gillis can do no wrong. It’s true that I have focused largely on what he’s done well, but that’s because I’m trying to counter your idiotic posts. You know who you are. He has certainly made mistakes, but most of those mistakes appeared to be good moves at the time that only appear to be failures in hindsight. One great example is the Booth deal, which was praised around here for being a rare trade that would help the team win now, while also helping the team get younger. Another example is Luongo’s back-loaded contract, which, at the time, was the only way we would have been able to hang onto him while staying under the cap, without offloading other salary. And yes, some moves he’s made can be pointed to as true errors. However, to expect perfection is completely unreasonable, especially when luck plays as much a role as skill in the equation that determines good GMing. Running a team for six years with a perfect record of success in every transaction is a near impossibility. There are a few criticisms that do hold water, such as his handling of the goalie controversy from a communication standpoint, but those are the exceptions.

One criticism I find especially ridiculous is Gillis’ “failure” to trade some of our star players for picks and prospects at the deadline this season. This particular deadline, as with the off-season, was highly unusual compared to historical norms. Every other recent season has seen a seller’s market, with sellers receiving far better packages than they could’ve found in the off-season. The Flames, to use everyone’s favourite comparison, have been guilty of refusing to deal players at the time when value was the highest because of holding onto unrealistic hopes of sneaking into the playoffs. But this year was very different. There’s a reason that the only big name to move was Vanek, and that was only because Snow’s hands were truly tied in the matter. The value was simply not there. If Gillis had forced a deal during such an obvious buyer’s market, that would have been a true “failure.” He did not.

The average level of intelligent thought behind posts on this board has declined every bit as fast as the team’s play. I’ve become too fed up with it to keep playing “quiet lurker”, hence my spiel. I’m sure most of you won’t like it. That’s fine. I don’t like your Chicken Little rants either. :thumbs:


* I hear the human organ black-market is thriving there in the wake of the occupation and RD might be able to get a great deal on a new brain, his old one clearly having suffered catastrophic organ failure years ago. He would come back much improved: a new man, you might say (or a new woman trapped in a man’s body, if that’s the brain he happens to receive – still an improvement, although his wife might disagree).
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby Rede » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:11 am

I agree with much of what is mentioned here, except I take some issue with the Torts hire. Rumour has it this may not have been 100% Gillis, but I believe Torts has contributed to our lack of success in a significant way. In particular:

- Style of play: I don't think it's just fluke that we have had more injuries. More ice time for top players and an emphasis on shot blocking have been contributing factors to our extensive list of injuries.

- The Calgary fiasco: at just the wrong time. The coach shouldn't be the story, and if that was a contributing factor in turning a slide into a tailspin then the coach is costing the team valuable points.

- Lack of goal scoring: not something new this season, but nothing was done about it. Quite reminiscent of complaints from NYR. Should this not have raised a few alarm bells given our teams' similar struggles to score, especially in the playoffs?

Torts was Gillis' hire and so far I'm seeing a guy who didn't have a lot of foresight regarding our ability to play the final three months the way we played the first three months. Gillis bears some responsibility for that.

I'm in the I-don't-think-Torts-is-the-right-guy-for-the-job camp, but not on the Fire Gillis bandwagon because of it. His next coaching hire has to be better though... but I wonder if they'll cut Torts loose with $8m left on his contract.

Either way, quite enjoyed the post. Any posts with preambles are bound to be good right?
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby Lloyd Braun » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:01 am

Thanks for reading the whole thing, Rede. I half expected that nobody would make it all the way through. :D

I was focusing on Gillis specifically in the OP, but as it relates to Torts, I have a few thoughts too... and I agree with most of what you said.

Personally, I've liked what I've seen from Torts with two exceptions:

The Calgary thing was indefensible, and almost a fireable offence in itself. When Torts was first hired, there was a lot of talk about how Gillis had mandated he watch his temper with the media, etc. I'm sure he was read the riot act after Calgary and I bet he'll be gone if anything similar happens again.

I've been of the opinion, for a few years now, that one of the main reasons the Sedins exploded from PPG players to Art Ross candidates is that Burrows being moved to their line allowed them to lean much more heavily towards the offensive side of the ice. During that time, some of us noticed the twins' lack of defensive effort compared to earlier in their careers when they had seemed more responsible. However, with a winger as aware as Burr, they were able to get away with it. Burr more-or-less took on the center's role of being the first forward back, and the extra offensive zone time that the line was able to generate helped with the defensive side of the game as well. Torts has been clear that he expects all his players to play within the system, without exception, and I can't help but think this has been one of the reasons for the twin line's declining production, although, obviously, it doesn't explain the degree of their decline. It would also help to explain (along with injuries) how their play has seemed to worsen the more they "bought in".

I don't know if I fully agree about the shot blocking. Five or ten years ago, some teams (like Torts' groups) were known for shot blocking, and many other teams weren't. However, that's changed. These days, pretty well every team blocks shots the way the Canucks are. It isn't optional any more in the league, and for a coach to downplay the importance of shot-blocking runs against the flow of how the game is changing. The Canucks may be 6th in the league in shots blocked with 1085, but that isn't too far ahead of the mid-way mark 15th place Buffalo Sabres, who have 1003 blocks. We've also played more games than any other team in the NHL, and three more than Buffalo. I'm not convinced that 82 blocked shots (or an average of 0.53 additional blocks per game) explains much. Maybe one or two injuries, but... yeah, the ice-time bit has likely been a bigger problem.


The funny thing is that despite my gripes and what's happened to the twins, I like everything else I've seen from Torts enough that I'm in favour of giving him another year. Obviously, it's clear from my OP that I believe there are plenty of factors contributing to our terrible record that are beyond his control as well.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby Hockey Widow » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:39 am

Very well written, yes I read it all!!

I think most fans saw the fall off coming but very few saw the disaster this season is. Yes some screamed loudly that we were done but they have been screaming about the sky falling since game 7. The chicken little rants are a safe bet because when a fall comes you can say I told you so. You can write off successes as anomalies or credit someone else. I believe it is simpler for some people to always predict gloom and be negative than the opposite. You never have to be disappointed that way.

I have facilitated back and forth between pure frustration with looking for someone to blame and a calm resigned understanding of all the issues you have pointed out. And I agree with pretty well everything you have written.

I think the wheels began to fall off in the LA game and continued right up until the Calgary game. We came out of December with an incredible record yet when we got to LA all the talk was about not being pushed around amymore. We lost our composure and the identity we were trying to build got screwed up. While on the one hand it was refreshing to see the "toughness" it also struck me as a undisciplined, ill timed overreaction to past slights.

Up until that point I thought we were starting to show an identity, playing tough. Blocking shots, hard on the forecheck and team defence. We still couldn't score but we were winning. That stretch of games, that the media and fans alike billed as the true test of the team, showed a mental weakness on the team. We didn't mentally handle the pressure or expectations throughout that road trip. We seemed lost, confused, disorganized and undisciplined and it culminated in the Torts visit to the Calgary locker room. Everybody and everything seemed to be getting inside our heads in this collective brain fart.

As the injuries continued to pile up we suddenly saw ourselves out of a playoff spot, in a position we have not had to deal with in six years. And the lack of depth, as you have pointed out, reared it's ugly head.

I too am ok with Torts. I was more curious about his hiring than anything else. He didn't strike me as someone MG could work with. But I like Torts and now that he has had a full year with this team, coaching in the West and being in a Canadian market I have to believe he will be more prepared next year.

I have mixed thoughts and feelings regarding MG but I said at the start of the season that no matter what happened this year I would hold off final judgement until next training camp. I still feel that way.

Thanks for taking the time to post a very well thought out and written message.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby ukcanuck » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:01 am

Something that hasn't been mention in these here parts for a while is the necessity for a change in the style of play.
It's not that the core has aged and is no longer able to contend for the cup; it's more that the skill game that the Canucks were so successful with in the past, has gone out of fashion.
The Canucks already had to make changes to stay relevant after 2011, and those changes are in the type of player needed to play the type of game that is currently successful. unfortunately as the OP states, the CBA and the League got in the way.
I think we are in a transition period here and that free agent spending is needed to bridge the gap between the 30 something core of the team and the 20 something new blood from Utica.

The money they will save on Luongo, Schneider, and Booth will come in real handy in July...
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby Topper » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:33 am

Long winded, yes. Maybe you should have sat on it for a day or two and then edited it down to be more readable so many of your points are not buried mid paragraph. It would have put more wind in your sails.

Much of what you said has been said by many here before. Several tempered their expectations for the next two seasons the moment the new CBA was signed and we saw the salary cap implications. Others, who only live in the moment and rely heavily on the local talking heads and scribes are tacking downwind.

Lou- the moment he said he would waive his NTC he became backup if he was not moved. As you and many others noted the cap implications of his contract under the new CBA severely restricted the trade options but one of he or CS had to go for cap space.

Torts - I have said several times that his system does not fit several players. It is little different when any major coaching change is made. Some players will adapt, some need to be replaced. I have said though, that there are rare occasions where the new coach needs to adapt and I believe 22 and 33 are those rare occasions.

Sedins - I like your observation of Burrows defensive role helping them concentrate on being more offensive and this again goes to Torts. His system is "centre first man back". I have commented many times on Torts dump and chase not fitting 22 and 33 as it limits their puck procession time for creativity.

Bottom feeding FA signings this season - Here we disagree. I believe that he should have recognized the restrictions of cap limits and realignment on playoff odds and used this season to get more youngsters involved instead of the Dalpe/Welsh/Santorelli crowd.

GMMG/Nonis - nice breakdown. I believe many have a difficult time separating the Burke years from the Nonis years and think of it as a continuum.

Your post reminds me of the triple vinyl disc "Sandanista" by the Clash. Buried withing the three discs is one terrific album.

HW - on Torts next year - agree, I think coaching on the westcoast has been a heavy learning experience for him. Again, the new CBA rears its head with the mandated hours off after games and 4 days off per calendar month.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby Lloyd Braun » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:05 am

HW, I totally agree with everything you said. Thanks for the compliments about my writing. It means a lot coming from a poster of your caliber. :blush:


The idea that our style of play needs to change tends to be thrown around a lot, but it seems to me that it looks better on paper than in substance.

Our peak of skilled success occurred in 2010/11. That same year, that the Bruins had a fantastic season, even prior to the playoffs, with physical play leading the way. After that, GMs fell all over themselves to add grit, grit, and more grit, but Chicago seems to be doing quite well with skill leading the way, and they aren't the only ones. Hell, the skilled Hawks beat the big, bad Bruins in the finals just last season.

Without a doubt, there are small changes that occur in the game over time, which do favour certain styles of play, but these changes tend to be blown out of proportion by fans and GMs alike. A large part of the reason people had said the league was moving away from skill and towards grit was the decline in minor penalties (especially obstruction) since the rules had first been tightened following the 04/05 lockout. However, it might surprise you to learn that there's been a reversal of this trend, and obstruction is actually more penalised now than it was in our wonderfully skilled 2010/11 season:
http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2013/02/26/referees-are-on-pace-to-call-over-650-more-interference-penalties-this-season-than-in-2011-12/

The truth is that our skill game doesn't work as well as it used to not because the league has changed, but because we don't have the horses to play that way any more. There's no chance of us matching skill against a top offensive team when we only have one legit scoring line on paper, and even that single line hasn't looked very dangerous for most of the season.

Because of supply and demand for players, GMs can handicap themselves by blindly following whatever the current fad is in terms of team identity. The stronger the fad, the more GMs look for the same type of player, the more the value of that type goes up, the greater the handicap. This, as well as a healthy dose of random variation, explains why successful styles of management seem to swing back and forth over time.

What we need to do is work with what we have, build a style of play that fits the guys in our lineup, and then find complimentary players who can roll with a similar style. Trying to put a round team in a square hole is not the answer, even if a square team just won a cup. Wow, what a terribly forced analogy that was, but you get the gist.


One thing I didn't touch upon, but probably should have, is your point about a gap in prospects.

I do think this gets blamed on Gillis too much (notice a trend?) but it's clear that big part of our current depth issue has been caused by not having had guys pushing their way up the depth chart with cheap contracts. The big gap, however, exists at around age 24-26 or so, which corresponds to the Nonis draft years. There's a smaller gap caused by us having been without our top three picks in 2010 (~20-year-olds), but otherwise, the situation looks okay, if unspectacular, with Kassian & Shroeder (2009 picks), Jensen, Corrado & Grenier (2011), Gaunce (2012), and Horvat & Shinkaruk (2013). These guys are Gillis years, and considering that getting two NHLers per draft is a solid result, and there aught to be surprise successes to balance the surprise busts, the pipeline doesn't look as bad as the doom & gloomers like to claim. I also didn't include prospects that weren't drafted by us (except Kass because of the one-for-one trade with Hodgson), but it's certainly worth noting that guys like Tanev, Stanton (not really prospects, but still improving by my eye), Markstrom, Lain, Zalewski, and others, are all still up-and-coming, and will all likely play a role in our future.

The prospect gap talk is a very real thing, but the next five years or so of potential cheaply contracted youngsters seem a lot stronger to me than the past three years have been. The biggest question is whether one or two of those prospects wind up being star-level players to play on our top line and top pairing of the future. We may may have problems there, but we do have a handful of guys who have the potential, even if their chances would seem to fall below the 50/50 mark.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby Lloyd Braun » Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:16 am

Tops, I missed your post when making my last reply.

You're totally bang on about the need to pair down. I wasn't kidding about the cigs thing, so ranting stream-of-consciousness style for an afternoon was quite helpful at distracting me. Unfortunately, I don't think I had the patience today for anything resembling extensive editing. :( I looked at some of the longer paragraphs when about to hit the post button, realised I needed to rework them for legibility, and said "fuck it."

I'd been wanting to make all those same points on here since a little while before the trade deadline but hadn't gotten around to it, so they were reasonably thought out. The structure of the post, however, was not, and the style was certainly more aggressive than would be typical of my posts on a different day.

We do disagree on the FA signings. Your talk about playoff odds seems to depend on a degree of hindsight. Do you disagree with my assessment that we seemed to be a likely playoff squad before the injuries hit? Neither Shinkaruk nor Horvat were so can't-miss that the risk/reward was in favour of keeping them during their draft+1 year, and Gaunce seemed a half step behind those two. As for the guys who started in the AHL, Jensen took a while to pick up his play even down in the farm, suggesting he wasn't ready in October, and you'll never convince me that Corrado would have been a better option than Stanton for the #6 spot, especially since Stanton is himself a rookie with lots of potential, and deserves to be in your "more youngsters" list. Dalpe and Welsh are guys who should be injury-depth options at best, which is not a role you want a hotshot rookie filling.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby Hockey Widow » Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:29 am

Topper

I agree about 22 and 33. Torts either has to play them on separate lines next season or let them play their style with Burrows. It isn't a style that makes them less responsible or accountable but let's them play to their strengths. Sorta like letting Jansen play a top 6 role rather than earn his stripes on the 3/4 line. Now if he sucked eggs defensively then you may do that while he learns or preferably send him back to Utica.

Maybe this is what Torts needs to learn, well any good coach really, how to get the best from your players.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby rats19 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:29 am

From the bowels of Lurkinstadt....a Hemingway.

Good job lloyd
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby dbr » Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:32 am

Topper wrote:Your post reminds me of the triple vinyl disc "Sandanista" by the Clash. Buried withing the three discs is one terrific album.


Except it only takes two and a half hours to get through Sandinista.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby dbr » Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:42 am

It is a good post though. I agree with virtually all of it. I mean, eventually even the world's most capable GM is going to get canned if his luck runs like Gillis' has over the last few years; and you have to start to wonder if the team shouldn't be incorporating these outcomes into their view of a team that might have just a kick or two left at the can prior to potentially undergoing some serious changes.

But overall I think yours is a well thought out, long-winded, droning, interminable :D voice of reason.

Boards like this have become pretty polarized this season - lots of people blindsided by a transitional year in general (and a particularly stunning collapse like we've seen on top of it) and coming out guns a blazing, and a lot of us reacting strongly to that.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby Topper » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:03 am

Lloyd Braun wrote: Your talk about playoff odds seems to depend on a degree of hindsight.


No, I have been consistent on this all season long and back into the preseason.

Lloyd Braun wrote:Do you disagree with my assessment that we seemed to be a likely playoff squad before the injuries hit?


I expected them to be fighting for a playoff spot, maybe a couple of games above where they are now, but not much. To me that is moot. There was no way they would be a contender once the playoffs began. Another quick first round exist matter little other than two home dates in the Aqualung piggy bank.

I expected a more consistent season, not the up and down of this year. I was as surprised by the high of Dec as I was of the low of Jan-Feb.

Lloyd Braun wrote:Neither Shinkaruk nor Horvat were so can't-miss that the risk/reward was in favour of keeping them during their draft+1 year, and Gaunce seemed a half step behind those two. As for the guys who started in the AHL, Jensen took a while to pick up his play even down in the farm, suggesting he wasn't ready in October,


I was willing to live with their warts and see them rotate in and out of the pressbox. Start out as 6 minute a night guys and be playing 10 minutes a night at this point in the season.

Lloyd Braun wrote:and you'll never convince me that Corrado would have been a better option than Stanton for the #6 spot, especially since Stanton is himself a rookie with lots of potential, and deserves to be in your "more youngsters" list.


Stanton has been a great find, kudos to the scouting staff (laughs at the fire them all crowd).

Lloyd Braun wrote:Dalpe and Welsh are guys who should be injury-depth options at best, which is not a role you want a hotshot rookie filling.


Hence they should have been in Utica as injury call ups. I have a hard time believing that a Horvat/Shrinkwrap(healthy)/Gaunce would bring any less than Dalpe does.

I have briefly mentioned the difference the 04-05 lockout and the last one had on the lineup.

The earlier lockout allowed Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa, and Auld (Rypien) a chance to get a year in the AHL without pressure to make the NHL team. There was no such assistance with the lockout a year and half ago (ok, Kassian, but who else) and that highlights the gap in the prospect pool you alluded to.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby Topper » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:08 am

rats19 wrote:From the bowels of Lurkinstadt....a Hemingway.

Good job lloyd

Obviously. You have never. Read Hemingway.
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Re: Yet another long-winded rant shoehorned into its own top

Postby ukcanuck » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:49 am

Topper wrote:
I have briefly mentioned the difference the 04-05 lockout and the last one had on the lineup.

The earlier lockout allowed Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa, and Auld (Rypien) a chance to get a year in the AHL without pressure to make the NHL team. There was no such assistance with the lockout a year and half ago (ok, Kassian, but who else) and that highlights the gap in the prospect pool you alluded to.


I think you were right about not trading Kesler
and I thought you were right about keeping at least one of the Horvat/Shinkaruk/Gaunce as an understudy and inject youthful enthusiasm

But I dont know if I have read you're opinion on whether the gap in the prospect pool is something that should bring Gillis down.

I am of the opinion that this gap is understandable considering the draft position the Canucks have had the last five years and the need to focus on a "win now" line up.
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