Tag Archives: san jose sharks

Draft Schmaft?

If you only read one article today (besides this one of course) check out the hockey news story by Ryan Dixon. It’s another story on how securing a top draft pick is not the only way to build a winner:

Consider if you will:

” the more you look around the league, the more you realize the folly of this sentiment. High picks are to NHL GMs what miracle diets are to the lumpy couch potato; sure, they can give you an immediate jolt, but if you want sustainable results, you have to hit the gym. In the case of NHL GMs, you need your scouts to scour gyms, arenas and any other place you’d expect to find a burgeoning hockey player who has yet to be spotted or has, at the very least, been underrated. That way, your ability to select impact players isn’t restricted to the 20 minutes immediately following the chorus of boos Gary Bettman receives right after saying, “Welcome to the NHL draft.”

There is no question about this. It’s never about 1 guy, it’s a team game and you will win and lose by your roster.

“Want three examples of why you don’t need famine in order to feast in the NHL? Start with Detroit, San Jose and Boston, also known as the three best teams in the league. The highest any of those clubs have chosen since 2000 is No. 5, which is where the Bruins got Phil Kessel in 2006. Boston has selected in the top 10 on two other occasions over that time frame, while San Jose has three top-10 picks, the highest coming at No. 6 (Milan Michalek). Detroit, as you’d expect, has none.All of those teams got to the top – and can expect to stay there – because they’ve done an exceptional job of drafting in the mid-to-late first round and beyond.”

Keep in mind folks this is in the new NHL era. It is the one reason I have hope. The old days of building teams are over, the need for an influx of new minds is every present.

“Once upon a time, the Sens were among the NHL’s best at unearthing draft gems. In 1997, they nabbed Marian Hossa with the 12th overall pick. Two years later, with the 26th selection, they grabbed Martin Havlat. But Ottawa’s depth has been undermined by its inability to continue finding players of that quality. In the virtually idiot-proof first round of 2003, Ottawa drafted Patrick Eaves 29th overall. Boston took Patrice Bergeron with the 45th pick and Nashville hit a home run with Shea Weber four slots later at No. 49.
The year before that, in 2002, Ottawa took Jakub Klepis No. 16 overall. Oops.”

Again, stories of pre salary cap NHL aren’t overly relevant. Teams operated completely differently back then (look at our leafs). The Sens much like the leafs (but to a different degree) haven’t adapted to the post war era. Their GM is still stuck in the old mindset. He has over priced talent that he can’t move and remains steadfast in their value despite their lack of production. Detroit isn’t a fair comparison. They were SO bad for so long that when they started to get it right they had built a system that was for lack of a better word recession proof. The machine was built pre Cap and still works post Cap. Let’s see what they do next season and the season after. The pressure will be higher because expectations are high AND the cap isn’t supposed to increase, rather it’s supposed to go down. The pressure to draft properly especially from the bottom of the rounds will go way up.

“I completely understand why bottom-feeders like the Islanders, Atlanta, St. Louis and Toronto are drooling at the prospect of drafting a John Tavares or Victor Hedman. Those teams are, to some degree, devoid of talent and need a new cornerstone around which to build. But being bad and picking very high for a number of years does have its perils. First of all, the boom only comes after a bust and who knows how many fans a prolonged down cycle alienates if you’re not in a market where hockey is the undisputed No. 1 sport.”

Thankfully that isn’t a Toronto problem. At least not right now. We have suffered so long without a marquee name (an elite, best of the league type) for, well almost ever! ( i know certain Sundin lovers will throw shit at me for that, but the truth hurts).

“Secondly, at some point you’re going to be paying out a huge amount of salary to a small portion of your team. For example, the Chicago Blackhawks will have to pony up for both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews after next season when their entry-level deals both expire.”

Having two young studs is a problem I can live with. Dixon brings up the Pens with this problem too. I have a difficult blaming the fact that they have 2 guys who are going to make big bucks as the problem. It’s a problem when you don’t have a GM who knows how to put the right pieces around them. I mean no disrespect to Detroit’s grind line, but they are the type of team that they are because their muckers and grinders- Plumbers as Burke calls them are better then anyone elses. That’s where the good teams make the big difference. Great players are great. It’s the guys who get dirty where you need to seperate yourself from the pack.

“Fans of struggling teams can cry for a complete rebuild if they want, but a steady diet of top picks can leave you with nothing more than a bloated salary cap if you’re not supplementing it with a nice dose of hidden gems.”

Or some great plumbers!

you can read the story here

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Random Thoughts On A Snowy Toronto Sports Night

Some things have been going on that I think need commenting on, call me crazy (lots of folks do)

The Toronto Sports Fans apathy to the Raptors is at an all time high. The team is in a spiral and not too many people seem to give a rats ass. There is more noise made about the Jays when things go south then there is right now for the Raptors. I heard and read more comments about the Argos dismal efforts then I am noticing with the Raptors. Ask anyone in the sports industry what the worst thing that can happen to an organization and they will tell you fan apathy. The fact that this team is performing so poorly without a whimper of discontent does not bode well for the Raptors. I am stunned that more of the usual suspects haven’t come out a swinging at Bryan Colangelo. I guess the reason they don’t is that they can’t. None of them really know the game well enough to comment. I know, they don’t know hockey either, but with hockey they THINK they do. Kudos to Bob McCown for watching last night’s game(Monday’s) on Raptors TV repeat. The game was on TSN2 which I believe is only available via illegal means here in the GTA. The bobcat was playing scrabble with his son during the live event. Hey at least he watches games on tv!

Could anyone have predicted a less exciting start to the Brian Burke era then we have seen. I know, I know his trading embargo is in place and he is in a new gig learning about his new team, but man what a buzz kill. The build up to his reign was so HUGE that the fall off the cliff was due to be big but man has he been quiet.

Speculation is abound as to what Burke’s first move will be. Berger thinks Burke’s first move will happen between the pipes for the leafs. Dreger thinks it will be for toughness. Dreger even suggests that Burke has an itchy trigger finger so long as teams aren’t asking for Luke Schenn.

Speaking of quiet, serious props to the first radio station in town to get Sam Mitchell on the air. No coach has been more entertaining in recent memory then Smitch. I can’t imagine pleasant things being said if he ends up on 640 before 590.

I love what Ron Wilson is doing. You know that by now. However, I am starting to get a small sense of where things went south in San Jose in how he is speaking, at least publicly about Jason Williams. “Right now I’m watching him under the microscope,” said coach Ron Wilson. “If I see him get comfortable then we’re going to yank his chain around.” Nothing wrong with being a hard ass, but geeze, give the guy some credit. You call the guy up and all he does is score in every game. Would it kill you to give him a small pat on the back? I get the message and I am sure Williams does too.

You know I love the Globe and Mail Sports section. Clearly the most improved in the city. Not sure who wrote this gem as a byline to David Shoalt’s piece “Winger scores on fourth shootout attempt to ensure Toronto doesn’t lose to its former AHL goaltender “. Look Scott Clemmensen deserves a ton of credit. Why? He is making the most of his opportunity. Raise your hand if you think for one second he would see the playing time but for the injury to Brodeur. There are a ton of mistakes the leafs brass has made over the year, letting Clemmensen is not one of them. Claiming that the Leafs would or should be embarrassed to lose to New Jersey and their ex goalie is just baloney. New Jersey is, even without Broduer a pretty amazing team and their record shows it. Losing to them is nothing to be embarrassed about. Given the Leafs squad it is almost expected. Extra kudos to Wilson’s boys for eking one out in a shutout.

Things that make you go hmmmmmm. If Scott Clemmensen carries the Devils far this year does that diminish the accolades of one Martin Brodeur? My favorite New Jersey Devil of all time, ex head athletic trainer Bill Murray (no joke).

Successful sports franchises are those that appreciate the window of opportunity and just how small it is. In each league only one team wins the big one every year. Bad teams are unable to realize just how hard it is to be a champion. It is the smart GM who knows when it is time to admit the opportunity with a certain bunch has passed and make the hard and sometimes unpopular decision to re-tool. Recognizing that you won’t with a group of players who may be fan favorites or good regular season performers is hard. Actually pulling the proverbial band aid off an trading or releasing those assets is really what defines a champion. With that in mind, anyone else think that maybe, just maybe, the ship has sailed for some in Ottawa?

I say it enough times, I am not a basketball guy. However 6 NBA coaches fired so far this season and a combined worse winning percentage then their predecessors tell you something. Perhaps those teams are talent deficient and the coaches are the sacrificial lambs to pacify fans and owners. I agree with Jack Armstrong who said tonight that if he owned a team he would tell a GM before hiring a coach, when you hire this guy you are tied to him. If you want to fire him down the road, you go too. I know it would never work, but man it sounds good doesn’t it?

I am biased, but I really like former University of Vermont Captain Jamie Siffers. Reminds me of all the games he pummeled those nasty Terriers!

Sorry to hear about the 600 layoffs at the Sun’s parent company. People losing their jobs this time of year is beyond sad. If rumors are true that one of those gone from the Sun is Scott Morrison then I have to wonder who is making the decisions at the paper Little TSM loves.

Anyone else wonder what Jeff Marek was thinking jumping off Wilbur’s wing? I don’t know the guy, have nothing against him personally either. Since he left talk640 I have not seen or heard him and I thought he was pretty funny. I know he is on Sirius hockey night in Canada radio. Anyone listening to that? I sometimes tune into the XM hockey channel. I know that I am in the minority when it comes to satellite radio in this town….Not that it is entirely an indicator of performance (and certainly not of Marek that is for sure) but with the Sirius/XM stock at .15, that’s right fifteen cents things aren’t looking for rosy for the satellite radio folks.

Our respects to Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who’s father died Monday. From the articles I have read, it sounds like his father was an amazing man and even better father. Here is hoping JS and his entire family are able to make it through the holiday season with only great memories of Claude Giguere.

I love to ski. So reading of an accident involving chair lifts scares the hell out of me. (It also does make me think of that awesome episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. When does the next season start anyway? ) Seriously. I can’t wait to take my kids to Whistler skiing and I have been on the Excalibur lift many a time. I hope that those hurt are ok and that the cause is soon discovered and repaired. For those who don’t know,” The RCMP say at least 10 people were hurt in the accident that happened at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, though none of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening. Fifty-three people were rescued, some after spending three hours in the air.”

Have the Blue Jays done anything, no literally anything to make you want to consider buying a ticket? Me neither.

Congrats to TFC for selling all 16,000 season tickets. In this economy that is, in a word, awesome.

I read tonight that the Yankees have replaced GM with Toyota and Audi as a sponsors of the team. In other news, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. Could you imagine if GM were still the automobile sponsor of the Yankees. We need a bailout but…..

True story, I was offered a full page ad in this year’s superbowl game day program and 2 lower level premium seats for $40k with any payment terms I want through the end of 2009. Is it just me, but doesn’t that seem really low?

Have I missed anything? Oh yeah our first reported major snow storm is apparently here. I have a brand new snowblower in my garage. I was pretty psyched to fire it up. Then Joe Sakic had to ruin it for me…. Safe travels tomorrow am all.

OH wait, I know what I forgot, Thursday is Mats Sundin Day. Question, won’t it be interesting if he goes to a team other then the NY Rangers. You know I love McCown. He may still be right. What happens if he doesn’t sign with the Rangers? I know the world won’t end but someone will have some splain to do. For my part, “oh well, my sources were wrong” won’t just cut it. If I were Rick Toccheting on a prognosticator I would go with Hanky. I am pretty sure he has had #13 going to every team in the league at some point so he has to be right. One last Sundin thought for the night. Riddle me this. Do we get a farewell press conference in Toronto. Will we not get the tearful goodbye so many people here want and deserve?

More On Tomas Kaberle

As hard as it is to believe, I actually think both Damien and Howie both got it right in their assessments on last nights game and the effect on Tomas Kaberle. Damien’s take was much shorter, but I think he hit the nail right on the head. This certainly looks like the beginning of the end of Tomas’s career as a Maple Leaf. I think lots of people smarter then me are going to debate the merits of what Ron Wilson did last night. Wilson’s actions haven’t been seen around a Maple Leaf team in at least 20 years if not longer. I am not sure if thoroughly humiliating one of your players is the right way to go about things. I guess we will see how things turn out. Each coach has their own motivational techniques, some work, some don’t. I will say this. No one should be surprised at how poorly Kaberle played the rest of the game. We all have been in situations when we are under such scrutiny, that no matter how hard we try things go awry. You can bet he was either so pissed (which given his demeanor is hard to believe) or trying so hard (more likely in my opinion) that he was bound to mess up.

“Well, at least you can’t say Ron Wilson is picking easy targets. No, the Maple Leaf coach is going after the big boys. But with Kaberle, it comes with an underlying message. Don’t think you’re just going to ride out another lousy season and refuse to be traded. You may soon be begging to be traded.” Lots of people suggest that Maurice and Fletcher take a similar tactic with the Muskoka bunch last year; they didn’t and none were convinced to waive. With the exception of Kaberle and Kubina, none remain. What is interesting to me is that Kubina is a guy who allegedly Wilson really wanted to keep and in my humble opinion has been the one player who’s performance has retreated the most this year.

“Truth is, he’s been dissatisfied with the work of Kaberle and Kubina for weeks, the two members of the Leaf defence corps with no-trade clauses in their contracts. New GM Brian Burke is already on record as saying such clauses are “coach-killers,” and quite clearly its in the plans of the Leafs to have both players willing to waive those clauses sometime before March in order to facilitate trades elsewhere that will bring draft picks and/or players to the club. But the gauntlet has been laid down. And Kaberle, it’s clear, is in his final weeks as a Maple Leaf.”

I think that is a fair assessment. One wonders why effect this type of thing has on the trade value of a player. I say that is bunk. GM’s and Coaches believe they are supreme problem solvers and that where they if given the chance they will be able to get a player in a “bad situation” to reclaim either their ability to perform at an amazing level or to reach what was once unbelievable potential. There are teams out there who see Kaberle for what he is (a good puck moving defencemen) who is inexpensive in today’s game. They will be able to convince themselves that the lack of a supporting cast, the pressures of the media and Leaf nation and of course the need for a change in atmosphere will at the very least restore Kaberle to his prime if not vault him to stardom.

Meanwhile, Howie has apparently recovered from his night of glitz and glamor at casa de Fletcher and is ready to talk hockey again:

“I have covered the Maple Leafs – home and away — since 1994, and I can guarantee the club has never once practised at 8 a.m. Not under Pat Burns. Not under Nick Beverley. Not under Mike Murphy. Not under Pat Quinn. And, not under Paul Maurice. The early start time is partly the result of a 10:30 a.m. charter-flight back to Toronto, but the workout was not on the docket until after last night’s stinker against the Coyotes. And it may, in fact, prove a detriment to the club in the short term, as the Leafs — for the third time since Nov. 16th — must fly across three time zones and play a hockey game the following night… in this case, a home encounter against Washington on Saturday. But, Wilson isn’t concerned about short-term issues. Or about the dire predictions for his club this season. His mandate is to ensure that the players — regardless of the outcome on a given night — understand that nothing short of an honest effort will be tolerated. If not, there will be hell to pay… as the boys will discover early this morning here in the desert.”

And if they did skate at 8am, just how many reporters would be there??? In all seriousness he is right. Wilson could care less about the wins and losses right now. To him it is all about building the foundation and removing this country club like mentality that has engulfed this franchise for years.

“Kaberle had never been openly disciplined in his decade on the Leaf blueline, and he was clearly taken by surprise when assistant coach Rob Zettler continued to call every defenseman’s name except his in the opening period last night. Zettler changes the Leaf defense pairings, and he repeatedly arranged combinations involving his other five blueliners — Jeff Finger, Pavel Kubina, Anton Stralman, Luke Schenn and Ian White. It wasn’t until the second shift of the middle frame that Kaberle finally got onto the ice. Unfortunately for Wilson, the message he sent on this night apparently did not sink in. “Yeah, I sent [Kaberle] a message, and he sent me a message back by being minus-4,” the coach scoffed after the game [Kaberle was actually a minus-3]. Indeed, the blueliner seemed flustered by the first-period snub. His head was on a swivel in the final frame, as Phoenix scored all three of its decisive goals with him on the ice. But, making an example of Kaberle was an explicit reminder that there are no exemptions on this club. Kaberle didn’t perform to standard against San Jose, and Wilson made sure he was aware of it last night.”

Now, I didn’t see all of the game, so can someone who did tell me how Berger can say that Kaberle was “clearly taken by surprise”. The implication is that he could see this surprise on his face. The one thing I think is good (regardless of the method) is that Wilson doesn’t appear to be playing favorites…yet. Brian Burke has said that his young players have to feel comfortable to play in a system in which they are free from fear of making mistakes, so that excuses Schenn for a little bit. One has to wonder the effect on the younger guys when they see a veteran embarrassed for poor performance. The pressure not to screw up must be pretty intense so as not to let your teammates down and to not be embarrassed yourself.

“If I were Burke, goalie Vesa Toskala would be among the players excised from the roster. Toskala has one year after this remaining on his current deal and Burke will likely decide by next summer whether or not to extend the Finnish netminder. But, after watching him closely this season, I’m convinced the Maple Leafs will never win anything of consequence with Toskala as their No.-1 goalie. Though he has some exceptional skills [primarily a lightning-quick glove] and the ability to get hot over a limited stretch of games, Toskala doesn’t bring the complete package. He’s been just a step above mediocre during the first third of this season, and is providing no indication that he’ll be — as widely expected — the most valuable performer on the hockey club.”

I don’t think anyone has said that Vesa is the answer to Stanley Cup drought. Again he isn’t making a ton of dough and I think Cliff rightly figured they needed a goalie who could eat a lot of minutes and not thoroughly embarrass the team. So while Toskala may not be the eventual cup winner, he plays a role that is important enough right now. Does that mean that they shouldn’t try to deal him? No, I have said it before (see Howie, we all can say that) I am not sure there are any real untouchables right now. Yes, I know what about Schenn? All I will say is that if Wayne Gretzky can be dealt, under the right circumstances so can Luke Schenn.

you can read Howie here….

Damien be read here

Off Night For All-5-2 sharks

Man, did Luke Schenn nail a guy on the sharks. I will try and get a video tomorrow am. It was a clean hit, but with about 12 seconds to go in a 5-2 game it was a little unnecessary and caused a small melee at the end of the game.

Anyways, this wasn’t a great game for TML. It was over about 3 minutes in. Wilson left Toskala in net as things settled down quite a bit after the 1st. Schenn, Grabovsky and Hagman were all each amazingly plus 2’s. Antropov, Kubina, Ponikarovsky and Stajan all finished at -3. Ian White led all Leaf players with double Todd Gill in ice time (23:23).

This wasn’t a good night for the Leafs. I have to think (and this is no excuse) they were a tad off from the travels and back to back nights. Kypreos was bang on in his assessment, the Leafs saw what they aspire to be. The sharks are a great team to watch. They are tough, they are strong and they are fast. Is there a better team guy then Joe Thornton??? What an impressive performance.

Ok- this idiot is tired…

Type at you tomorrow (or later today)

Simmon’s Quote Of The Day…

“Why Ron Wilson is the coach of the month in the NHL: Name another coach who has fixed two teams, one by arriving and one by departing”

Classic!

If the San Jose Sharks were a stock I would short it…

You all sitting down, the San Jose Sharks hired JFJ today. As a pro scout. He did such a great job evaluating talent for the leafs that he got himself a gig as a pro scout…. Seriously, this isn’t a joke.. Two words come to mind, Raycroft and Blake….. I had Sharks GM, Doug Wilson on my short list of potential Leaf GM candidates until I heard this. Speaking of my list, Darcy Reiger is now off the list as he signed an extension with the Sabres today.

Hey, how about them Argos, they are on a tear since Wilbur’s kid came on board…..

more in the am..