18 May 2012

MvsW #0122 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0122 (May 09, 2012) Question of the Day:
Who do you like in today's Game 6 and why?

Again, this is the problem with answering these after the fact.  My pick was Washington, not only because I dislike the Rangers (for all the shit people give teams like Nashville and Phoenix about their style of play, New York is more boring than anyone else in the league), but because I had money riding on the Capitals.

While I was in Las Vegas a couple weekends ago with some good friends, I got the opportunity to do some sports betting for the first time.  I've always wanted to get in on this, but because our wonderful country thinks it needs to save us from ourselves, it's a pain in the ass to start online betting through Bodog/Bovada.  Unfortunately, I'm pretty low on funds right now, due to a combination of last year being an expensive one (my bank account is so sad!) and being in between paychecks right now, as I just started a new job.  Hell, I wouldn't have even made the trip to Vegas if my airfare and accomodations at the Bellagio weren't paid for.

To give you an idea of my bankroll, I ended up going to Vegas with about $200 in my pocket.  I came home with about $50.  About $75 or so of that was spent on food and drink while being out there, and the other $75 went into gambling, $30 of it at the sportsbook at the Bellagio, on three bets:

- $10 - The Flyers -1.5 in Game 1 to beat the Devils - Flyers won by 1, bet lost
- $10 - The Capitals +1.5 in Game 1 to beat the Rangers - Rangers won by 2, bet lost
- $10 - The Capitals to win the Best of Seven series against the Rangers - Spoilers: Rangers won, bet lost

I didn't win a damn thing while I was in Las Vegas.  I accidentally lost $30 to video poker by hitting the "maximum bet" button.  I placed some sports bets that immediately fell through.  I didn't have the cash to play table games at the Bellagio on a weekend (if you have that much money to give to a casino, you should give me some!).  The Capitals were my last hope on my first sports betting adventure, and my only hope of winning anything from my trip to Vegas.

So yeah, I was pulling for the Capitals.  And of course, they won.  Inevitably, they lost Game 7, and I sadly threw away my bet slip and accepted my fate as a sports betting failure.

17 May 2012

MvsW #0121 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0121 (May 08, 2012) Question of the Day:
Where is Ryan Suter playing next season?

Oh good god, I hope it's in Detroit.

I think that it would ultimately be best for the NHL if he stayed in Nashville, and if he's not going to go to Detroit, I'd prefer he just stayed there.  I can't help but root for a team that has done things the right way, in how they've built their team, which is an alarmingly rare thing anymore.  It is good for the league and for the Nashville market if they don't lose their star players and continue to be contenders in the West.  I believe that part of our job as hockey players and hockey fans is to evangelize the game, and help it spread and grow and be a positive factor in other people's lives.

One of the things I really dislike about a lot of people in the hockey world, and particularly in Canada, is the tendency to tell certain markets that they don't "get" hockey, that they don't "deserve" hockey.  Whether it's because they "don't even get snow", because they're "in the city", or because they don't "appreciate the game", that is absolute bullshit.  Hockey is for everyone.  If you don't believe me, ask Jarome Iginla, Sean Avery, or Brian Burke.  One of the things that we, as hockey fans, need to do, is to help push that mission.  We shouldn't do that because the NHL has a PSA about it, but because it's something that should happen for the good of and the growth of our game.

The only way we can grow this game is to do so organically, from a grassroots level.  Hockey can work in "alternative" markets, but it takes work and success on the part of an NHL team.  Hockey has exploded in areas like Northern California (Sharks), Texas (Stars), and Southern California (Wayne Gretzky Kings) because of successes that those teams have had, in addition to grassroots efforts on the parts of those teams to help build rinks and found youth hockey programs, to hook new generations on this wonderful sport.

As a result, 20 years later, we're beginning to reap the rewards of those efforts, as we start to see new players come from those areas, as well as building a culture by way of kids who've now grown up immersing their own kids in the game.  This is how a culture is built, and it's god damn ignorant for Canada and other "traditional" markets to think that because they have a head start of several decades, that they are somehow superior to anywhere located south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Bringing that tangent full circle, it's easy to see why Ryan Suter remaining in Nashville is important for the NHL and for the Predators.  If Suter goes to DET or PHI, he's going to a more established hockey culture, where his impact on the growth of the game will likely not be what it would've been had he stayed in Nashville.  If he stays in Nashville, he can be a part of the effort to grow the game there, helping push Nashville as a stronger hockey market.  This can help the NHL, not only by strengthening it's national presence, but maybe more importantly by maybe making the Nashville Predators stronger financially, eliminating them as a bottom-third team in the NHL's financial structure, making the entire league more financially stable.

All of that said, my personal preference is that he goes to Detroit, for my own selfish reasons.  Nicklas Lidstrom is on the way out, and ever since the 2009 finals where a hobbled Lidstrom was unable to be his usual self against the Penguins, I've been scared of what this team will be without him.  The way the NHL has worked for the last 20 years, the most valuable thing you can have is a true #1 top-flight elite defenseman who can fill a "shutdown" role.

The Red Wings do not currently have anyone to fill that role right now.  Kronwall isn't a "shutdown" type of guy - he just directs more chances at the opposition net than he gives up.  Quincey isn't that guy.  White isn't that guy.  Maybe Smith is that guy, but we don't know that yet.  Ericsson is a genuinely impressive kind of trainwreck.  Kindl probably won't be that guy either.  This team needs a player like Suter to win the sort of series that Detroit just lost to Nashville.

In the end, my money is on Philadelphia.  They have the riches in their forward ranks to trade to Nashville to get Suter's negotiating rights, and we all know that Paul Holmgren is not shy at all with ratcheting up the numbers on contracts.  If that happens, it will be a loss for both the Predators and the league as a whole.

16 May 2012

MvsW #0120 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0120 (May 07, 2012) Question of the Day:
Your favorite team wins the Cup - which jerseys do you wish they were wearing?

Well, being a Red Wings fan, this is pretty easy, as there's not a multitude of older jerseys or such to choose from.  My personal preference is the Detroit white now-away-but-previously-home jerseys.  I still don't like the whole "darks at home" thing that was inexplicably changed after the lockout, because I really prefer most teams' white jerseys.  I think they just look a little cleaner, a little sharper, a little more detailed than the darks for most teams, including Detroit's.  With the dark jerseys, it's a big blob with some little white writing and stuff going on.  With the light jerseys, it just looks neat and clean, like someone took a blank canvas and set to putting together something great.

On a slightly related note: my wife was watching Game 1 of the Kings/Coyotes series, and was briefly confused on which team was which, because the Coyote's "whiteout" seemed to be a statement of support for the team in white...  which was the Kings, as the whiteout pre-dates the post-lockout policy of home teams now wearing their dark jerseys.  Shouldn't Phoenix now change the event to be a "maroon-out" or a "burgundy-out", similar to the Capitals' "Rock the Red"?

If anyone knows why they changed the home jerseys after the lockout, I'd love to hear why.  The only thing I can think of is some sort of really silly thing like "We notice we sell more home jerseys than away jerseys, so we should switch the jerseys so that we can get people to buy the jersey they don't already have!", but that seems like a quite a stretch.

I would also like to mention (I think I've mentioned it on this blog before, but I don't remember for sure), I think the Edmonton Oilers blue-and-oranges are absolutely hideous, and I always really liked their McFarlane-designed alternates that they wore briefly about 10 years ago.  I thought they were pretty neat and a helluva lot more sharp than the blindingly bright jerseys that they've been bringing back.

12 May 2012

MvsW #0119 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0119 (May 04, 2012) Question of the Day:
What would make you care about the IIHF World Championships?

I think the whole problem with the IIHF World Championships is pretty obvious - it happens during the NHL playoffs.  That alone makes it a hard sell, as it's tough to get time to watch it (and don't even get me started on how stupid a tape delay is in the Information Age), but the fact that it's also not featuring all the best players in the world is a significant factor as well.

The obvious solution is to not play the event during the NHL season, which makes it more viewable, but also increases the player pool for the event.  I would personally schedule it for August.  June has the Cup Finals and the draft, and July has free agency, but from the second week of June to mid-September, there's nothing at all for hockey fans to sink their teeth into.  I always start getting my hockey jones real hard in mid/late August, and if the IIHF were on at that time of year, I'd be all over it.

The only thing that might become an issue then is if it would really mean much to be a yearly event, and if players would want to take time from their offseason plans to participate.  I'm not sure if that would be a concern or not, but if it were, I think setting it up to have a championship tournament every other year (alternating between Olympics and IIHF) would be a pretty solid idea.  I think just moving it to August would be good enough though, to significantly increase interest in the game.

10 May 2012

MvsW #0117 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0117 (May 02, 2012) Question of the Day:
You're starting a team, which currently unemployed GM do you hire and why?

For years now, I've always maintained that I would love to see what would happen if you put a couple of the smarter minds in the NHL blogosphere into an NHL front office.  With indefensible morons like Don Waddell, Doug MacLean, and Steve Tambellini (and I'm not even touching on Matt Millen - Never forget!) able to land jobs in the NHL, often multiple times, I would love to see a new team go way off the board, and get someone completely new to run their front office.

My ultimate preference would be to replace the individual GM position with a small GM-council, of James Mirtle, Gabe Desjardins, and Tyler Dellow.  You could even make it bigger (though an odd number is probably ideal, for voting out any disagreements) and add folks like Tom AwadVic Ferrari, or a hundred others.  These are the guys helping lead the advanced statistical revolution in hockey, and I cannot possibly fathom a scenario in which they wouldn't at least be moderately successful.  Given the incredibly low bar set by several of the GM's in the NHL right now, it would be nearly impossible for them to end up in the bottom of the league.

This wouldn't be half as much fun though if they couldn't document the things they were doing, for our entertainment, which obviously wouldn't be very practical.  But such a thing would certainly make for one ridiculously interesting blog or reality tv show or something.  Shows like the Oilers propaganda piece Oil Change wouldn't stand a chance against this.

Of course, this also would lend itself to adding more folks from around the blogosphere in other positions.  Earl Sleek could become the director of marketing, ushering in a new era of print media promotions for the team.  Corey Pronman, Director of Scouting?  James O'Brien, Community Relations?  The possibilities go on and on...

09 May 2012

MvsW #0116 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0116 (May 01, 2012) Question of the Day:
What is your best theory about what happened to Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov?

I'm not the most creative person, so I don't have a good answer here.  The best I've got is that a Russian friend of mine has told me that Russian women are far better than American women.  My understanding from him is that they take much better care of themselves, and are more interested in their men, relative to American women.  In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, Alex Ovechkin has at some point said much the same.  So my guess is that Kostitsyn and Radulov were either A) getting drunk and bemoaning the state of American women and how they are lacking in comparison to the superior Russian women/groupies in the KHL, or B) trying to go shot for shot with some Russian women that they ran into at the bar, which can take a very long time, to my understanding.

Of course, whether Russian women are better or not, they don't have a song like our American women do:

It's a shame it's Heather Graham dancing, instead of Elizabeth Hurley :-/

08 May 2012

MvsW #0115 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0115 (Apr 30, 2012) Question of the Day:
Who is the most underrated player in the playoffs so far?

You know what's interesting?  I'm still using these prompts, but I haven't even been able to listen to the Marek vs Wyshynski podcast since mid-April when I started my new job.

Anze Kopitar strikes fear into the hearts of his opponents.

Jon Quick, Mike Richards, and Dustin Brown have all been getting a lot of attention for the job that Los Angeles has done so far this post-season, and rightfully so, but I think the straw that's really stirring their drink is Anze Kopitar.  From everyone's favorite pervert, Rudy Kelly of the Battle of California, after Game 2 of the Blues/Kings series:

Kopitar rules, we all know this. He's +4 thus far with 2 goals and a pretty consistent domination in the offensive zone (game 1 here, game 2 here). Last game saw Ken Hitchcock move David Backes away from Kopitar, which is something I thought I'd never see. It'll be interesting to see if Sutter pursues that match-up in LA or if he simply doesn't care who the Blues put out against Kopitar. So far it hasn't mattered.

If you'll recall, a lot of people began singing the praises of David Backes as a Selke nominee, trying to put the 28 year old in the conversation for best two-way player in the game.  Kopitar is 24 years old, and he's playing better at each end of the ice than the trendy Selke pick of the year in Backes, at a more important time of the year.  Murray's defensive philosophies may have stymied some of the Kings' offensive potential (as well as crushed Alex Frolov's NHL career, and helped the team miss out on quality offensive players like Matt Moulson and Teddy Purcell), but I think that forcing that sort of attitude on several of the Kings players when they were young will be a good thing in the long run for the Kings.  Kopitar is probably the #1 example of that.

He was always fantastically talented offensively (seriously, watch this), but the fact that he can play well defensively is what really gives him the extra dimension out on the ice to play in any situation, and do so extremely competently.  Having the same in Mike Richards allows the Kings to play with two lines with fantastic two-way capability, along with being able to run another line with Jarret Stoll as a stopper.  That defensive depth has been one of the keys to the way the Kings have been able to get so far in the playoffs, being able to create mismatches and take advantage of them.

07 May 2012

MvsW #0114 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0114 (Apr 27, 2012) Question of the Day:
Give us 1 lock to advance and 1 lock to be eliminated in the second round.

This is the problem with falling behind, while having tied myself to the MvsW QoD as a means to get myself to regularly try to write something.  Sometimes I end up being stuck writing about some silly things.

Obviously, we're already most of the way through the second round, but my lock to be eliminated would've been the Devils, and my lock to advance would've been the Blues.  So, that turned out well.  But hey, my round 1 prediction totally happened!  In fact, I'd like to point out that I wrote the first (that I've seen) piece on this year's "passing of the torch in the West" piece, as a lot of other people said the same thing after a tumultuous first round finally ended.

MvsW #0113 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0113 (Apr 26, 2012) Question of the Day:
Give us your two Game 7 heros for tonight's games.

Well, this just looks stupid, since the question was actually for Game 7 of the 1st round.  That night, NYR/OTT and FLA/NJD were both going to Game 7, and obviously, NYR and NJD won.  I was a bit busy that night getting ready for my trip the next day to Vegas, and on top of that, I didn't really care about either series.  Which is all to say that I didn't watch either game.  And yet here I am talking about it, 2 weeks after the fact.  Huh.

So instead, I'm going to cop out of doing a real post, and I'm going to tell you a joke.  By the way, I am a fan of bad jokes.

A man goes the doctor for a physical.  He gets to that part of the physical, and he drops his pants for the doctor.  The doctor takes one look, and says to him, "My god, you have five penises!  How do your pants fit?"
The man says, "Like a glove!"

06 May 2012

MvsW #0112 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0112 (Apr 25, 2012) Question of the Day:
Who deserves the Vezina trophy?

Jon Quick.  Henrik Lundquist might be the best goalie in the league, and he certainly has been over the last couple years.  However, to me, the measure of a MVP (and I tend to look at the Vezina the same way) is to try to guess what would happen with to the player's team without that player on the roster.  If you took Lundquist away from the Rangers, I think they would've been a decent (but not good) team this year.  I think they would've still ended up in the playoffs.

If you took Quick away from the Kings this year...  well, they barely made the playoffs anyways, right?  If they got anything less than the stellar season that Quick turned in, it's safe to say that they would've landed out of the playoffs.  In fact, with average goaltending, I would guess that the Kings would've finished well out of the playoffs, while still being good enough to not end up in the top of the draft, making this year a colossal waste.

I may come back to this at some time and take a good hard look (with numbers and stuff!) at trying to figure this situation out.  Probably be plugging in some average and replacement level goaltender numbers in for each team and using that to get a better idea of the performance each goaltender gave their team over that line.  We'll see if I get to that, but it's certainly an idea.

ESPN Sucks: Faux-Moneyball Analysis

Friday's Puck Headlines at Puck Daddy contained an inexplicably stupid nugget from ESPN:

NHL fans lost an entire season due to hard-line owners seeking a tight salary cap. So it’s shocking that since the empty 2004-05 season, payroll is linked even more with winning. Before the lockout, a 10% increase in spending was worth about 5.8 team points (roughly three wins) over a season. Since the lockout, that number has ballooned to 9.2 points. The Wharton researchers theorize that this counterintuitive trend is a result of the CBA’s producing a tighter range of spending between teams. “Each dollar became that much more valuable,” they concluded.  
Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford agrees: “Despite not having as big a gap, $16 million between the cap and the floor, teams that consistently spend at the top will still have an advantage in getting top players.” He also says low-payroll teams can succeed only for a short period. Nashville earned the Western Conference’s fourth seed this year with a slightly below-average payroll. But the team is winning on borrowed time. “The Predators are at that point where they’re either going to spend toward the cap or risk losing top young players,” Rutherford says. “So from a consistency basis, you can see the advantage for the teams that are able to routinely spend at the upper end.” 

The portion of the piece discussing hockey is quoted above, and there are several things that stick out as being blatantly and stupidly wrong just on the first read.  I have no idea why Wyshynski would link to such an awful piece, but hey, I guess it gives me something to talk about.

First of all, it's not shocking that payroll should be linked even more with winning (if it even is - I'll get there in a minute) - part of the idea of cost certainty was that you had limited dollars to give out, so the way you used those dollars becomes more important.  Furthermore, you couldn't make mistakes and pay your way out of them (which notably ended up not being the case - ask Wade Redden!).  The idea was that across the board, no one would have to spend as much to try to compete, but cost certainty undeniably makes the money that you do spend more important.

It's also worth pointing out that frequently, the floor or near-floor teams are not just victims of circumstance - they're quite often in the poor house because they build shitty teams, and then bemoan the fact that no one comes to their games.  Consequently, that more money tends to mean more wins should strike no one as a surprise.

The second thing that immediately jumps out: Nashville has succeeded for a lot longer than a "short period".  Nashville has been one of the 5 most successful teams in the regular season since the lockout, along with New Jersey, Vancouver, San Jose, and Detroit.  You'll notice that Nashville has also done so on a much smaller budget than those other four teams.  Rutherford's Hurricanes are 17th, though I suppose you can point out that they lucked into a Stanley Cup in the strangest year ever.

In any case, Nashville has clearly outperformed at least 80% of the teams in the league, and have done it on a shoestring budget.  They may never have finished #1 in the conference or something, but they've been remarkably consistent about remaining in playoff contention, and that's more than you can say for the 'Canes.

The third point is the fact that the comparison from the article of "increasing payroll by 10%" is highly unequal between the two time periods as well.  If you ran a cap-floor team in 2012, you had to spend around $48,000,000, and the cap was around $64,000,000.  You can only increase your payroll by 10% three times, so the entire difference between the top and the bottom of the league is condensed into only three such payroll jumps (and magnified further by the increased number of points in the league - getting there in just a second).  Prior to the lockout, team spending ranged anywhere from under $20,000,000 to over $70,000,000.  A payroll increase of 10% for a team at the bottom of the pay scale still left you in the bottom of the pay scale, and you could increase your payroll by 10% many more times.  The method of comparison is incredibly disingenuous and misleading.

The fourth and final point is the reason why this piece should've never been written, and betrays the fact that those doing the research for the piece didn't know anything about the NHL.  The reason you get more points per million dollars spent in today's NHL compared to the pre-lockout NHL is because everyone gets more points, no matter how much they spend!  The advent of the charity point for losing in overtime/shootout means that everyone gets a bunch of extra points each year.  Any measure in which you compare points earned under the current CBA, to the pre-2005 CBA, will always show that there are more points up for grabs under the current CBA, because there are so many more points awarded to NHL teams nowadays.

A quick check of hockey-reference.com shows that in 2004, the league average for standings points was 87, whereas in 2012, it was 92.  That's about 150 extra standings points in the system, that weren't originally there.  And remember, there were charity points from 2000-2004 for overtime losses, though not nearly as many as we currently have.  If ESPN was including numbers in the pre-lockout points/payroll figure from pre-2000, that would make the difference look even bigger, because in 1998-99, the league average for standings points was just 82 points.  Is it any wonder that you should see an increase in standings points earned by nearly any measure?

Anyways, the important thing to remember here is that ESPN sucks.

05 May 2012

On Junior Seau

Junior Seau died this Wednesday, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.  He was 43 years old.  He was one of the best linebackers in the NFL over his career, and will very likely end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He was frequently the only bright spot on some truly atrocious San Diego Chargers teams, and he was one of the most respected people around the NFL.  He played high school, college, and NFL football in the southern California area, where he was revered for his play on the field, as well as his conduct off of it.  Seau was one of the most charismatic and down-to-earth stars in the area, and he was also extremely committed to charity work, including founding the Junior Seau Foundation.

One of my aunts used to work for the Chargers, and as a result, I got to meet him very briefly after a game, when I was somewhere around 13 years old.  I hadn't yet grown into the full frame that I now have, but I was a decently sized kid at the time.  I was probably about 5' 9" or so at the time, and about 180 pounds.  I've also always had very large hands - I don't mean fat sausage-fingers or something, but just very big, long, wide hands.  I played football and hockey, so I wasn't a stranger to big guys, and size advantages that other men have held over me have never really merited any particular notice from me.

All of that said, when I first shook Junior Seau's hand, I was stunned.  It is the only time in my life that I can recall being taken aback at the size of another man.  He was just so god damn huge!  Not huge as in fat, but huge as in "I am the best linebacker in the NFL and I am made of pure bone and muscle" kind of huge.  His head was big, his neck was big, his shoulders and his chest were huge, and his hand enveloped my own.

I know that in my lifetime, I have met taller men, and wider men, and maybe even stronger men, but I have never yet met anyone who radiated the sort of presence of "big-ness" that Junior Seau did.  I had shaken hands with a 6' 3" 250 lb giant.

And then that giant leaned down and said softly, "Nice to meet you".

I highly doubt that I will ever again in my life meet anyone as big as Junior Seau.

MvsW #0111 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0111 (Apr 24, 2012) Question of the Day:
Who should win GM of the year?

Definitely not Dale Tallon, despite the fact that he's nominated for the award.  Dale Tallon dicked up hard, as he is prone to do, and was rewarded for it by failing into a division title because the Capitals inexplicably shit the bed for the entire regular season.  Everyone points out that the reason Tallon signed all the UFAs this off season was to hit the salary floor.  Of course, that ignores the fact that he signed 7 UFA's to hit the 2011-2012 salary floor (and notably, the last year of this Collective Bargaining Agreement), and instead of giving them money just for this year's floor, he handed out a total of 28 years and 112 million dollars.

The Panthers ended up being one of the worst division winners of the last 30 years, and Tallon will point to that (meaningless) banner as proof of his success this year.  And hey, I guess you could call it a success.  But the point is, he got a very small improvement this year, at the cost of future years.  That strategy works when you're trying to get over the hump and win a Cup, where the "future costs" will be due when your window has closed.  Instead, Tallon's short-term and uncreative accounting will have "future costs" right when this team is trying to become an elite team behind guys like Huberdeau, Gudbranson, and Markstrom.

Aside: I think there's something interesting about Tallon and Kris Versteeg's success this year.  Remember, a big part of the reason why Versteeg has wandered across several teams while scoring 25+ goals a year, is because CHI had to prematurely jettison him as a cap casualty after winning the Stanley Cup, because of Dale Tallon's supreme screw-up as the Blackhawk's GM in accidentally allowing him to become a quasi-free agent.  As a result, Versteeg (and others) ended up getting paid more than CHI would've wanted.  

In the end, Versteeg ended up getting traded several times over, until he ended up in Florida, reunited with the man who originally screwed up his second NHL contract, Dale Tallon.  It makes me smile to imagine that Dale Tallon somehow actually planned all this back when he botched the RFA qualifying offers.  "Barker is going to end up sucking anyways..." and "If I mess up with Versteeg now, then later on after I get fired, I'll be able to reacquire him 3 years later..."

Anyways, back from that tangent, I suppose I should point out that my answer to the question is probably David Poile.  If nothing else, I can point to Tyler Dellow's chart of NHL team records over this CBA (since the lockout) and note that the Predators are one of the 5 most successful teams since 2005, and have done it while spending way less than most of the rest of the league.  To some extent, I think this is probably the best argument - a GM's job is about a lot more than "right now" and more about where you're going next year and the year after, and how you're going to get there.  Of course, reaching those levels of success with obstacles other franchises don't face (namely, their finances and ownership situations during that time) makes the case even stronger.  Poile ought to have one of these on his desk.

Further than that, I've honestly been impressed with the testicular fortitude that Poile has displayed this year, while trying to walk a very fine line.  We've previously discussed the Suter/Weber situation here on StB.  Poile has been dealt a tough hand, but he's played it masterfully.  Maybe it will blow up in the end, with Weber and Suter walking out, but no one can point the finger at Poile for it at the end of the day.  Most GM's would've dragged the contract issues into the media, used it as an excuse to trade the player and save their own skins, and probably have gotten a rather poor haul in exchange for a #1 defenseman, rather than risk losing him for "nothing".

That "nothing" is misleading though - the "nothing" is a chance at postseason success, and a chance to convince the player that you're building something real, and to get them to commit to being a part of it.  Poile isn't throwing in the towel on Suter or Weber - he's trying to get them to stay, and he's playing the whole thing out publically in a manner where no one is the bad guy, helping keep things friendly between franchise and player.  In doing so, he's continued to help a fledgling fan base (relatively speaking) continue to grow, by giving it something to cheer for, rather than stomping on all their hearts and blaming a greedy franchise player for the heartache.

Poile has also handled the mess that is Alexander Radulov in a similarly masterful manner for years, which has finally culminated in his being able to bring in a first-line forward in this most critical of years for no cost at all.  Poile has committed to this season and to the fans and to his star players.  Maybe it won't work out in the end, but it's been a tough hand from day 1 in Nashville.  He's done some great things with that hand, and all of it has been culminating into this one season.

Over the last several years, we've seen a lot of GM's go all out to lose intentionally, and usually in a pretty dramatic fashion. There's a whole lot of incompetent folks at the front of NHL front offices, and the way the NHL has incentivized losing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  If nothing else, I'd like to see a GM be rewarded for being smart instead of lucky.  And I'd really like to see an NHL GM be rewarded not for going all out to lose and rack up draft picks, but to be rewarded for following a plan and building a team and going all out to win games.

04 May 2012

MvsW #0110 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0110 (Apr 23, 2012) Question of the Day:
Which of the eliminated teams is in the most trouble?

I'd have to say the Sharks.  The Canucks might be a bigger clusterfuck, and consequently, they'll be a lot more entertaining to follow this offseason.  Of course, a large part of that comes from the fact that they still have a good team put together for next year, and are facing a lot of pressure to commit the organizational equivalent of building a brand new house and then burning it down because the wood floors got scratched.  The Red Wings have been on the downswing over the last couple seasons, so their position isn't a shock.  Additionally, most scouts that I've seen still rate the Red Wings' prospect depth as being pretty decent, with guys like Tatar, Jurco, Smith, and Nyquist.  Pittsburgh has some interesting decisions to make, but no one can deny that they have a pretty solid team entering next year.

No other team crashed the way the Sharks did.  No one else underwhelmed like the Sharks.  The Sharks watched their championship window slam shut in their face.  They lack flexibility to make significant roster changes.  They lack prospect depth to inject fresh blood via promotions to the NHL or trades to acquire roster players.  The Sharks have pretty much blown their load, as far and as hard as they could.  And it still fell well short of their goal, and they have nothing left with which to reload.

The Burns and Havlat trades were their last two shots of the cannon, and this season has largely amounted to standing on the wall of The Alamo, screaming "You'd better not try it, look at this big cannon we've got here!" and hoping no one notices that they're out of ammunition. Funny thing about the NHL though, is that you can't really hide the fact that you're all out of bullets.  Someone will always call your bluff.  Now everyone knows that they don't have anything left, and as Marleau and Thornton get older and the team slinks back out of the playoffs, they have nothing with which to pull themselves back up the standings, and will likely have to bottom out for a year or two.

03 May 2012

MvsW #0109 QoD

More edits: As I said before, I was pretty busy between training for a new job, and housework.  Over the last week, it's been continuing my academy, and a trip to Las Vegas with two of my favorite people.  I haven't even been able to watch much hockey lately, but hopefully I should be able to start getting into a better schedule now.  Also, apparently this post was also caught in my misunderstanding of the scheduled post within Blogger, but I should be good to go on that now.  

Also, The Elder Scrolls Online!!!  I'm crossing my fingers.

Marek vs Wyshynski #0109 (Apr 20, 2012) Question of the Day:
Which band would be worse than Nickelback for the NHL awards?

If I mention Sugar Ray here, it gives me an excuse to link to this awesome post that I did at James O'Brien's Cycle Like Sedins: Rob Scuderi Hates 90's Alternative Rock.  I got a big kick out of writing that.

As for the question, I don't have a real answer.  I don't listen to the radio anymore, I don't follow pop music (I can count the number of Lady Gaga songs I've heard on one hand), and I do not have an encyclopedic amount of knowledge in the subject.  I guess my answer would have to be something really dirty, just to watch Gary Bettman's head explode, and the suspension video Shanahan would have to make as a result.

So as to not completely dodge the question, I'll point out I've personally always thought that some NHL names would make for great band names.  Todd and the Bertuzzis sounds like a Motown group.  The Zarley Zalapski Experience?  There's got to be plenty more of them out there.  Feel free to chime in.