Penner Shipped off

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

When I heard the fake tweet of a First and Jarred Tinordi from the Habs for Penner, I was mildly happy. When I heard the real deal for him, I was still happy. I don’t like Teubert as much as Tinordi, but that is OK. I am reminded of a younger bigger Jason Smith. Hopefully the Oil develop him well and he turns out to be a better version of Theo Peckham.

Also of note is the discomfort of Tambellini in the press conference when Terry Jones asked about Colton’s struggles so far. Thanks Jonesey for exposing Tambellini’s lack of knowledge of Teubert other than his draft position and playing style. Sort of wrecking the moment….in a twisted funny sort of way.

I know first post in a long time….but will return a little more.

Hockey Parenting: 101

Posted: September 4, 2010 in General

I am entering my third year as a hockey parent.  It is also my third year as a hockey coach.  Two years in novice and this upcoming in Atom hockey in Edmonton.  There is so much to learn for parents when it comes to hockey.  Even for myself.  We all would love our kids to grow up and make the NHL, in some cases even if they have that dream. (Hopefully you caught that.)

Personally, it is only mildly an aspiration for me.  As someone who is very close to my 8, turning 9 year old, I know him…well.  He likes hockey.  Always has liked hockey.  But I see him on the ice and see him as a good, smart, little hockey player that is a great team guy.  He is the kid that would pass to the little girl in front of the net to ensure she got her first goal.  Only one of the many things I love about him.  But, he doesn’t have that passion.  That twinkle in his eye when it is time to lace up the skates and go out on the ice.  He likes it, while some kids love it.

For some of us even today, if we won the lottery, we would buy/build a house….with an indoor rink in the back.

So I think the first key for Hockey Parenting has to be the understanding of your child and what they want.  Not what you want.

As a coach you have to walk the fine line of “It is not my job to tell a kid what to dream.” and realizing that even the best kids on your team, in your division, in your city, might have a minuscule shot at the show.  You just help them work on their skills and hockey citizenship and allow for the next coach along the way to build on those blocks.

A few years ago I did some scouting for an NHL agent.  I watched the best AAA kids in some U.S. states.  I watched some of the best kids in the USHL.  I checked out as many AA and AAA kids in Northern Alberta that I could.  I didn’t see one kid that has developed into an elite AHL player yet.  That is hundreds of kids.

Now I do evaluations for Edmonton Minor Hockey.  I see lots of kids that all have a dream or have been steered towards a dream.

The issue is that most parents aren’t realistic in their expectations of what their little hockey player will be.  I have see parents with a twinkle in their eye that they honestly believe that their youngster is going to be an elite player, whether the youngster knows it or not.

You don’t want to tell a parent what to dream either for their child, or tell them how to parent.

You just hope that they read Bob McKenzie’s book ,  and find a little bit of reason every now and again.

Greg Wyshynski has a great blog (And is one of the more active Twitterers in the Hockey World) here .  Edmonton is one of the most interesting places where debates rage on MSM (Main Stream Media) versus bloggers on what the value each of them has to the hockey industries.

It isn’t only related to hockey though.  Author Buzz Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) and Will Leitch of Deadspin.com had a debate in regards on HBO with Bob Costas.

In Edmonton, Andy Grabia eloquently covered the debate back in 2007 here.

Since the NHL discussed blogger access a few days ago, much has been said in the hockey world about access for bloggers including a guy that might  be one of the most powerful men in hockey Ted Leonsis here.

There was a blogger issue in Edmonton back in 2008 Elliotte Friedman of HNIC weighs in on Puckdaddy here back in 2008.  Dave at Covered in Oil was handled less than eloquently by the team when it was found that he was blogging in a less than complementary way in the press box.

And while I was midstream in this post, Staples has a great blog on access guidelines here.

There are many credible points and many different views.  The issue is this:

Can NHL teams trust bloggers to be professional in their establishment?

I think that the answer is that the PR people and directors of communication would have to do an immense amount of research on who and why they are offering a Press pass.

Would Allan Mitchell of Lowetide get one?  Certainly.

But for every Lowetide there is someone that will skirt the boundaries of professionalism, and write towards a more colourful audience.  They will state things as if they are talking to their buddies in the locker room and there really is no space in the press box for that sort of thing.

Sadly, I don’t expect NHL teams to do their due diligence, and find room for those that cover their team in a way that outstrips the quality of some in the MSM.

In Edmonton, we have some decent writers, but we also have some very lazy MSM.  The augmentation of their work by the many blogs that cover this team is essential to the work that these MSN do.

I have listened and read Robin Brownlee’s opinion on the matter, but I have seen some changes in his thoughts over the last two years.  He is still a gruff S.O.B. from time to time, but even he is won over by some of the bloggers with their intelligence, and quality of insight.

It might be a long time before the NHL sees it as Ted Leonsis does, but allowing more people to discuss your sport can’t be a bad thing.

I find it interesting.  Rene Fasel indicates that the NHL will not be in Europe, “But as long as I’m sitting in my chair I wouldn’t allow it.”

Does Fasel have that much pull in the business and hockey world that he can control anyone who might want to set up shop in Europe?  I am not saying that the concept that the NHL seemingly plays the predator to all European hockey federations is wrong.  It does to some extent appear to be the case.

That said, it appears to me that Fasel has an adversarial approach to the NHL, and Gary Bettman.  Ultimately it didn’t work well for Bob Goodenow, and it didn’t work for the Alexander Medvedev, and I don’t expect it to work well for Fasel.

At some point in time I intend to do a significant piece on Gary Bettman but from my standpoint, whether it is the KHL, ESPN, the NHLPA, Jim Ballsilie, or even barbs from Ron McLean, the Hockey Napoleon seems to be a guy that itches for a fight and has no problem giving the big “F. U.!!!” to anyone.

So, what is the reasoning for Fasel to take this stance?  There are no overt clues, but he does seem to do a lot of “Us.” (Europe), and “Them.” (North America).

It is also interesting that the IIHF is unwilling to do things like uphold Alexander Radulov’s Nashville contract, but would be willing to reject the transfer of a 16 year old Czech (Martin Frk) on the grounds he had a valid professional contract.  Can’t have a beer but legal enough to sign his hockey career away to the Czech league.

Obviously the IIHF has an agenda that is very protectionist when it comes to Europe.  That can’t be a good thing.

The Horcoff Bash…

Posted: August 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

It seems to be a fun pastime for many Oiler fans to lament the contract/cap hit/performance of Shawn Horcoff.

I love how those with thoughts of revisionist history, and the benefit of hindsight slag number 10 incessantly without any mention of the facts.

I am not the biggest Horcoff booster in the world, but I love how most peoople can harp on the contract with the benefit of 20/20.

Horcoff was damn near a point a game in 2005-06, In 2004-5 he was the 3rd in SEL scoring.(I remember hearing he was unreal that season in Sweden)

After a down year in 2006-07, he came back in 2007-08 and is damn near a PPG player, again.  Even further to that point, the players his PPG was greater than in this season include…Henrik Sedin, Marian Hossa, Jaromir Jagr, Olli Jokinen, Scott Gomez, Brad Richards, Paul Kariya, Patrick Elias…well, you get my point.

I am not going to get into the average salary of these players, but Jagr (8.36M), Jokinen (5.25M), Richards (7.8M), Elias (7.5M), Kariya (6.0M) all show that Horcoff was performing with the big boys.

Then, it appears that injury too over (http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=352285).  Recovery from February was slated to be 6 months.

Again, subject to personal thoughts and hindsight, one could suggest that the 6 year, $33 million dollar extension was a bad signing by Lowe.  But when you have a player that looks to be a  great leader, scoring near a point a game and playing like an elite player, you have to consider paying them like an elite player, since again, said player is going to be a UFA in one more season.

Shoulder surgery can affect a player in a lot of ways, and usually, it isn’t good.  The other player that really comes to mind is Vincent Lecavalier when he had shoulder surgery near the end of the 2007-08 season.  His drop was from 92 points to 67 points, and to this day hasn’t returned back to his elite status of 2006-08.

He may not ever return to form, but for the player, at the time of the contract, the numbers suggested he was worth low first liner, upper second liner money.   Could Lowe have lowballed him, and negotiated him lower.  Sure, and he might have said no and waited until the next offseason and went UFA.   Even still, he would have probably ended up with $4.5-5.5M in salary regardless of where he went.

It is a bad contract due to not only Horcoff’s injuries, team personnel, team turmoil, linemates and a plethora of other reasons.  Not because he wasn’t worth it at the time it was signed.

So, what did we learn when the NHL held it’s RDO Camp in Toronto.  Well, they didn’t restrict the amount of things that they talked about.  Everything from hybrid icing to potentially having a referee up in Foster Hewitt’s gondola trading barbs with Jim Hughson during play.  Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but they didn’t hold back on being creative.  Here is my take on what they proposed and if it could work.

Proposal:  “Hybrid” Icing

A “hybrid” of no touch icing and touch icing. During a potential icing, the linesman, by the time the first man reaches the face off dot, will determine which player would reach the puck first. If it is determined to be the attacking player, icing is waved off. If it is the defending player, icing is blown immediately. (Tie goes to the defender) It basically enables on-ice officials to whistle the play dead avoiding a dangerous collision at the end boards.

Rationale

The hybrid icing keeps the excitement and hustle of touch icing while eliminating many of the dangerous collisions with the end boards.

Yay or Nay

Yay.  The prevention of injuries is more important than the one or two races for the puck down the ice and it seems like a compromise to no touch icing.

Proposal:  No Change after Off Side

Description

A team that has been ruled off side, shall not be permitted to make any player substitutions prior to the ensuing face-off.

Rationale

The inability to make any player substitutions will not only keep “tired” players on the ice but will also keep coaches from getting desired match ups. It is believed this combination will potentially lead to more offense.

Yay or Nay

Nay.  Offsides are circumstantial not intentional..and we already have an intentional icing rule.  Compromise is to have the no line change on intentional icing.

Proposal:  Crease Reset Rule

If an attacking player establishes a significant presence in the goal crease or if an attacking player physically or visually prevents the goal keeper from defending his goal while standing in the goal crease, play shall be blown dead and the face off will be at the nearest Neutral Zone face off spot.

Rationale

This is an effort to further protect the goal keeper and also stop play before an illegal goal is scored .

Yay or Nay

Yay.  Keeping players from interfering with the goalie is fine with me.  As long as players not interfering still have opportunity to go into the crease to score.

Proposal:  Face-Off Variation (Controlled by whistle rather than traditional puck drop)

After both centermen take their appropriate positions, the puck will be placed on the face off dot and the face off will commence on the official’s whistle.

Rationale

This is one of three “face-off variations” we will be testing in an effort to restore the fairness and integrity of the face off.

Yay or Nay

Nay.  Nothing wrong with present face off.  It does inhibit cheating on the faceoff, but I don’t see any tangible benefits.

Proposal:  Overtime (Three minutes of 4 on 4, followed by three minutes of 3 on 3 and finally three minutes of 2 on 2.)

The length of the overtime period will be increased to nine total minutes. (Three segments lasting three minutes each.) The segments will start with 4 on 4 play, go down to 3 on 3 and ultimately finishing with 2 on 2.

Rationale

With the number of tied games being settled in Overtime on a steady decline, it is believed that the extra ice created by 3 on 3 & 2 on 2 play will lead to more goals scored in Overtime.

Yay or Nay

Undecided. It is intriguing, but I think more testing would need to be done, such as a year in the AHL.

Proposal:  Shoot Out (5 Man Shoot Out)

5 Players from each team shall participate in the Shoot Out and they shall proceed in such order as the coach selects. After each team has taken 5 shots, if the score remains tied, the shoot out will proceed to a “sudden death” format. No player may shoot twice until everyone who is eligible has shot.

Rationale

This is one of three Shoot Out formats that we will be testing throughout the camp to further explore the pros and cons of all the different variations.

Yay or Nay

Yay. I have always prefered 5 man shoot outs.

Proposal:  Nets (Shallow back)

The shallow net features a 40″ inch deep frame compared to the 44″ inch frame that we currently use.

Rationale

The shallow net provides more ice behind the net and also makes it easier for wrap around attempts.

Yay or Nay

Yay.  Depth of nets has no bearing on the game compared to amount of ice surface to play on.

Proposal:  Bigger Crease

The crease that will be used in this session is enlarged proportionally in all directions 3″ inches.

Rationale

Added protection of the goal keeper.

Yay or Nay

Nay.  As long as the rules are presently enforced, the goalie is protected.

Proposal: Verification Line

The Verification Line is a yellow line parallel to the goal line, set back slightly more than 3″ inches (size of the puck) from the goal line.

Rationale

The line will aide the officials during goal reviews to determine if the puck has crossed the goal line. In the event there is something (water bottle, etc) blocking the view of the goal line, this line could be used to “verify” that the puck has completely crossed the goal line. (The line is slightly further back than the size of the puck, therefore if the puck is in contact with it, a goal would be awarded)

Yay or Nay

Easier to get it right.  A yellow line in the net will have no bearing on the viewing of the game.

Proposal: Wider Blue Lines

Blue lines that are twice as wide as usual. (24″ rather than 12″). The inner edge, or D-zone edge, remains in the same spot.

Rationale

Once the attacking team gains the blue line, the Offensive zone becomes larger without making the Neutral zone any smaller.

Yay or Nay

When Bobby Smith first suggested it, I was on board, and still am.  Increasing the size of the attacking zone means time and space for skilled players.

Proposal: Line Change Zone in Front Of Each Bench

This is a shaded area painted on the ice that extends 5′ feet out for the length of the players benches.

Rationale

This shaded area will aide the on ice officials to determine when a retiring player is within the legal 5′ foot distance from the bench before being substituted for.

Yay or Nay

Stops the cheating line change and less confusion on the ice.

Proposal: 3 Face Off Circles in Middle of Ice

Each zone will have only one face off circle and it will be in the middle of that zone.

Rationale

There are two potential benefits to the relocation of the face off circles. Generally, this may move play back to the middle of the ice & away from the periphery. It is also an effort to limit whistles. It’s believed that teams may keep play moving rather than have a face off right in front of their own net.

Yay or Nay

BIG NAY.  Don’t like it at all.  I like what Bruce Boudreau said.  Looks like a big cyclops.

Proposal: Face-Off Variation

If a player is deemed to have committed a face-off violation, he will be required to move back and keep his skates behind a “penalty line” (1′ foot further back) which will cause a loss of leverage and therefore loss of strength for the ensuing face off.

Rationale

This is one of three “face-off variations” we will be testing in an effort to restore the fairness and integrity of the face off.

Yay or Nay

Nay.  Throw out a guy trying to cheat on the faceoff like we have always done.

Proposal: No Icing Permitted while Short Handed

Teams will be whistled for icing and therefore not permitted to make player substitutions, even while short handed.

Rationale

Why do we reward a team for breaking one rule by allowing them to temporarily break another?

Yay or Nay

This is key to the penalty kill.  Killing time off the clock.  Taking the option away is too draconian.

Proposal:  Overtime *Switch Ends*

Same format to the one used in session #1 with the added wrinkle of switching ends, therefore creating a long change.

Rationale

With the number of tied games being settled in Overtime on a steady decline, it is believed that the extra ice created by 3 on 3 & 2 on 2 play in combination with the long change will lead to more goals scored in Overtime. (Over the past 10 seasons 37% of all goals in regulation were scored in the 2nd period compared to 30% in the 1st period and 33% in the 3rd period. We can only assume the long change is a major reason for the increased scoring in the 2nd period)

Yay or Nay

Yay. Long change I like.  Makes the teams think about changes, more space on ice means tired players/coaches have to use shift management.

Proposal:  Shoot Out (Unlimited shooting)

3 Players from each team shall participate in the Shoot Out and they shall proceed in such order as the coach selects. After each team has taken 3 shots, if the score remains tied, the shoot out will proceed to a “sudden death” format. Players may shoot as often as coach desires in sudden death round.

Rationale

Like IIHF formats the most skilled players would be able to shoot again and again.  Unsure of why they are suggesting this.

Yay or Nay

Nay. Same player more than once makes it too individual which is why most purists complain about the shootout already.  Marek Malik anyone?

Proposal:  Nets

The nets used in this session will feature red mesh as opposed to white.

Rationale

A player who is looking for an opening to shoot, will see the red mesh easier than the white mesh which blends in with the white ice and white boards.

Yay or Nay

Nay. I think it will be visually awful to watch.

Proposal:  “No Touch” Icing

For the purpose of this rule proposal, “icing the puck” is completed the instant the puck has crossed the goal line.

Rationale

Eliminate dangerous collisions.

Yay or Nay

Nay.  I like the Hybrid idea to allow for some chases, but this would reduce some excitement for sure.

Proposal:  No Change after Off Side & Face off goes back to offending team’s end.

A team that has been ruled off side, shall not be permitted to make any player substitutions prior to the ensuing face-off which will now be in back their own end.

Rationale

The inability to make any situations, keeping tired players on the ice, in addition to the face off coming back into their own end will potentially lead to more goal scoring.

Yay or Nay

Nay.  See above….offsides are circumstantial and we already have a solid intentional offiside rule.

Proposal:  Crease Reset Rule

If an attacking player establishes a significant presence in the goal crease or if an attacking player physically or visually prevents the goal keeper from defending his goal while standing in the goal crease, play shall be blown dead and the face off will be at the nearest Neutral Zone face off spot.

Rationale

This is an effort to further protect the goal keeper and also stop play before an illegal goal is scored .

Yay or Nay

Yay. Keeping players from interfering with the goalie is fine with me.  As long as players not interfering still have opportunity to go into the crease to score.

Proposal:  Face Off Variation (After a violation, opponent picks next centerman)

If a player is deemed to have committed a face-off violation he will be chased from the ensuing face off and the non offending team gets to pick the next centerman.

Rationale

This is one of three “face-off variations” we will be testing in an effort to restore the fairness and integrity of the face off.

Yay or Nay

Nay.  If you are in the offensive zone and you get waived, it makes a centreman pull a blueliner from position to take a faceoff?  Terrible.

Proposal:  Second Referee located off the playing surface

One of the two referees will be located off the ice on an elevated platform.

Rationale

The potential benefits of this change are that it will not only create more room on the ice but also provide a better vantage point to spot infractions.

Yay or Nay

Nay.  If you  want an off ice official, add one.  Better yet, let McGuire make calls from his “Monster Vantage Point”

Proposal:  Delayed Penalty Rule

A team who has committed an infraction of the rules but does not have possession of the puck, needs to not only gain possession of the puck but also get the puck out of their zone before the referee blows his whistle to stop play and impose the penalty on the offending player.

Rationale

The extra time it will take a team to clear their zone, will be more time the non offending team will have with an extra attacker which will provide more offense.

Yay or Nay

The idea of continuously finding ways to penalize teams to create scoring is riduculous.  If it is all about scoring, make the game 4 on 4.  Which I don’t like either.

Proposal:  Nets (Plexiglass or thin mesh on top)

Same dimensions as current nets with thinner mesh or plexiglass on top of the net.

Rationale

Easier to see a puck going over the line.

Yay or Nay

Yay to thinner mesh, Nay to Plexiglass.  The glass is bound to break, or cause bounces.  Mesh will accomplish same.
All in all  I like the proactive way the NHL is approaching rule changes.  Don’t let the game get out of hand before tweeking the rules.

The Anonymous Hockey Scout…

Posted: August 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

So, all is quiet on the Souray front, the Gagner front….but we have some news.
Well, now the word Eklund might be permanently tied to the Oilers.  Jim Matheson suggests as much in his article http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/Pelle+Eklund+become+Oilers+scout/3408663/story.html

That said, we are undermanned in Europe with scouts, and this could turn out to be a fortunate move, considering the resignation of Kent Nilsson.  Personally, I agree with Scott Reynolds at Copper and Blue in his assessment that Kenta wasn’t that great a scout to begin with.  http://www.coppernblue.com/2010/7/25/1584338/the-magic-man-disappears

Although having y0ur team connected with the name Eklund might be auspicious at best, and looking at the Habs draft history, they didn’t lean on him very much, considering they hired him in October of 2007 to scout in Sweden, the Habs selected no Swedes in 2008 or 2009.  One might suggest he might have had input on the two Finns selected in the 3rd and 7th round in 2009 (Joonas Nattinen and Petteri Simila), but that isn’t enough to hang his hat on, nor hang him over.
Going back a year prior, he was with the San Jose Sharks as their European Scout.  That was for only one season 2006-07.  Under his watch the Sharks selected Timo Pielmeier and Patrik Zackrisson .

None the picks look particularly good, but neither do they look horrible.  Pielmeier was pretty good for the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL in 2008-09 and had a fairly rough year in Bakersfield in the ECHL last year but very early on the goalie.  Zackrisson was 20 when San Jose drafted him so he had some SEL stats behind him and has progressed.  Maybe not to NHL quality but is a quality SEL forward.

For the Habs, the Finns were mid to late picks so nothing really too disappointing in his one draft.

Prior to that from what I can find out Eklund started scouting in 1999-00 for Phoenix in a post he kept to 2002-03.  The one pick you might look at as suspect on his watch was Sjostrom in 2001 with Hamhuis and Hemsky following right after.

Jakub Koreis was the next Coyote first rounder, and if we believe that Pelle Eklund had a hand in this European pick.  Nothing after him was particularly good, other than the sporadic solid pick. (Stoll, Keith, Greene, Daley, Stajan, and our own Tom Gilbert to Colorado).  Ultimately it doesn’t seem to be a very solid draft so he doesn’t get a big fail, but a flubbed first rounder is never a good thing. (Yes, the Oil took Jesse Niinimaki four picks earlier).

So, what does all this tell us about Pelle Eklund the scout?  Really, not much.  Maybe his former employers give him good references, but Jarmo Kelkalainen he isn’t.