Month: January 2011

Phil Kessel “A New Car?” Give me a break!!!!!

I loved the Fantasy Draft for selecting teams in the All Star Game. It was fun, it was candid and it created a great entrée for the competition this week-end. There were a few “ribbings, some jokes and every body seemed to have a good time. So was I until they gave away the car to Phil Kessel.

GIVE ME A BREAK! Giving a new car to Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leaf for being the last player selected in the Fantasy Draft.

THAT IS REALLY LAME!!!

Whoever got this idea should get a job as a kindergarten teacher where nobody looses and everybody gets a prize. Are we dealing with kids here or are those players professional athletes who make millions of dollars. Giving 20K to a charity was a good gesture and should have been quite enough. (maybe Phil should have to match it for being last)

Phil Kessel makes 5.4 MILLION DOLLARS! Professional players don’t get rewarded for finishing last. If he does feel a little embarrassed for being picked last, he will get over it, except maybe for his teammates who won’t let him forget it. That’s all part of being on a team and he would be disappointed if he didn’t get “razzed” by his teammates.

On top of it all, he was the last forward selected. Jonas Hiller (Anaheim Ducks) was the last goalie and Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators) was the last defenseman. The rules did not allow defensemen nor goalies to be chosen as the last player. The least they could have done is to make it fair for everybody. All goalies had to be selected by the 10th round and all defensemen by the 15th round. Why wouldn’t they get a car for being the last of their position? This made absolutely no sense. Phil Kessel himself seemed more embarrassed about getting a car then he was about being picked last.

The charitable gift is a good idea. I have been promoting that the NHL, the players and sponsors should throw money in the “pot” for the winning team to give to charity. I don’t know if this will happen but we do know that the player of the game will also win a car.

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!

Phil Myre

JACQUES LEMAIRE “CHECKING” in again!

The New Jersey Devils are showing signs of playingJacques Lemaire type of hockey”. It’s boring, it lulls teams and fans to sleep at times but it’s effective and it wins. Lou Lamoriello knew that Jacques is a proven coach and that he would instill some structure and stability to a team that struggled from the start under Coach John MacLean. Jacques assigns roles to all of his players, makes them accountable and they respond. They may not always like it but, in the end, winning is what matters at this level and players are much happier when they win. He has the ability to bring the team together and convince them that this style of play will be beneficial. His teams always play in unison and with cerebral energy.
One of the Devils’ major problems is the lack of puck movement and production from their defensemen. Andy Greene is the only d’man who fits this description and yet, he’s not a high end player. Henrik Tallinder is a good transitional defenseman but he doesn’t produce points. The rest of their defense corps doesn’t move the puck very well. Playing without Zach Parise certainly doesn’t help either.
Nevertheless, the Devils won’t make the playoffs but they will mix up the cards before the conclusion of the season. They will influence who makes the playoffs or not. Teams fighting for a playoff spot in the East Conference beware. Do not take the Jacques Lemaire coached team for granted or you could be lulled into a long summer sleep.

SCOUTING REPORT:
MATTIAS TEDENBY
didn’t play much against the Redwings but he showed some potential. He’s a small, explosive player with offensive skills and speed. A First Round selection in 08, he should become a good offensive player.
NICK PALMIERI. I like this kid. He’s big, has soft hands and he can skate. More physical involvement should make him a good power forward in the future. Only 21 years old, in his second year pro.
VLADIMIR ZHARKOV. He’s a “tweener” for me. (A tweener in scouting terms is a player who has skills but not good enough to play on the top two lines and can’t be a role player) No physical presence, below average work habits.

What about the play of DARREN HELM for the Detroit Redwings. He scored a great goal on a breakaway against Martin Brodeur. He has 21 points playing on the 3rd or 4th line. He has speed to burn, he checks, competes, hard to play against. He is a top penalty killer.

“MERE” COMMENTS
It was great sharing some stories with my former teammate Chico Resch when the Devils visited Detroit.
I also enjoyed spending time with my former “pupil” in Ottawa, Ron Tugnutt, who is now assistant coach with the Peterborough Petes. His team watched a game between the Redwings and the Blackhawks prior to a game in Sarnia.
Ken Holland is facing some hard decisions this summer regarding two of their free agents: Jonathan Ericsson and especially Jimmy Howard. both are young free agents. They become unrestricted because they will be 27 before June 30.

They want Howard back but at what price? His agent will play the statistics game and “comparables” to high end goalies. But is he a high end goalie?

Although Ericsson hasn’t reached expectations yet, he should be in demand from other teams if he goes to the free market. I’m sure that the Redwings want him back but, again, at what price?

I’m looking forward to the FANTASY DRAFT tonight (Friday) when the Captains will select their team for the All Star Game January 30. 

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!
Phil Myre

PHIL-BITS

  • We have to sympathize with John Davidson and Doug Armstrong in St-Louis who were victims of the current rules on players coming back from Europe. First they signed Svatos only to lose him to the Nashville Predators on waivers. They went to work and signed Kyle Wellwood and again, they were robbed by Vancouver who grabbed him on waivers. Nashville and Vancouver didn’t do anything wrong. They simply took advantage of a rule which needs to be revised by the NHL. The rules say that a player who played in Europe and wants to return to the NHL during the season must clear waivers before he can play for the team who signed him. This rule can penalize the team who did all the work, like St-Louis.
  • Now the Redwings who signed of  Evgeni Nabokov to replace goalie Chris Osgood who had surgery for a Sports Hernia also see their efforts spoiled by an obsolete rule. To make matters worse, Nabokov won’t report to the New York Islanders. A saga to be continued. My guess is that he’ll be in a “Winged Wheell uniform before the trade deadline…
  • Some suggestions:
  • Increase the waiver price for those players or designate some form of compensation to the team who did the contract.
  • A player returning from Europe could go on a “special  waiver” list by the League before a contract is signed.  None of the teams should know which team, wants to sign him. The team that claims him then would have exclusive rights for X number of  days to agree to a contract for a predermined waiver price. If no contract is agreed to, the player could go back on waivers.  
  • Speaking of rule changes … The league should go back to the old rule of shoulder height when a shot is deflected for a goal. It’s much easier to evaluate whether it was a high stick or not. Who cares if the taller player has an advantage.
  • Did you know that a team can use any goalie eligible to play if both goalies get injured during the same game?
  • Did you know that a team can have a player not in uniform behind the bench during a game as long as he is included on the roster sheet before the start of the game.
  • The Philadelphia flyers played much better without Chris Pronger than I had anticipated. Looks like the Flyers are for real.
  • You don’t have to look too far to find the biggest problem of the Columbus Blue Jackets. They don’t have one defenseman in the top 50 scoring defensemen in the league. Stralman hasn’t produced like they had hoped, Russell doesn’t look like he’ll be the offensive player they predicted. Tyutin is their top scoring d’man but he’s just starting to play well now. How about Kaberle for the Jackets? That’s the type of player they need and they will have to do something to make the playoffs.
  • Jan Hejda sure doesn’t seem to fit in Scott Arniel’s system. He’s been a healthy scratch for a couple of games.  He played so well as a defensive d’man a couple of years ago. 

MID-TERM MEETINGS: KEY TO FUTURE DECISIONS

Scout making lists

  Most NHL teams summon their scouting staff for meetings about 3 to 4 times per year. It normally happens at the beginning of the season, at mid-season, at the trade deadline and in May or June. 

 There are no set rules as to when teams hold scouts meetings but the Mid-Term Meetings are very common to most and are usually held in January. Amateur Scouts and the Pro Scouts have separate meetings with very different goals in mind.   

For the Amateur Scouts, it’s time to get specific with their overall list for the upcoming NHL Entry draft. At this point, they want to rank the players in order of preference and assign coverage to make sure that those players are seen and evaluated. The process of making a list can be very tedious. They have thousands of names to rank. Discussions can become “heated” at times because scouts feel strongly about certain players and want them well positioned in the rankings. The Director of Amateur scouting (or Chief Scout as he used to be called) will guide his troops towards a ranking that everybody agrees to. The list they draw now will be a “moving target” until their final one is completed in the spring. 

Pro Scouts also meet in January to prepare for the trade deadline and for free agency. The General Manager may begin the Pro Meetings with a “State of the Team” presentation. He gives a brief description of where the team is in relation to projections and outline some needs for the short and long term success. The scouts then analyze, rank and rate players from all 30 teams, including their own. They identify priority players for possible trades and free agents of interests based on the needs and goals directed by the GM. Coverage is assigned to each scout. When they go back in the field, they must make sure that they see and report on  priority players. Management will use the data emanating from meetings and reports (some use it more than others) in contract negations and trade talks with other GM’s.  

Scouts don’t  make hard decisions. However each report, each opinion expressed, each player research they make, contribute to the building of the team. There isn’t much recognition for what they do but they are important to the success of a good organization. They are hard workers, dedicated people and don’t think for a moment that it’s a “cushy job”. (More on scouting in another blog)

Meetings, discussions, lists and data entered into computers are all excellent  tools that help Managers make future decisions. When it’s all said and done however, the deciding factor still belongs to the instincts and “gut feeling” that the staff and management have as they prepare to draft a player, make a trade or sign a free agent.  

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!    

Phil Myre

NHL “DOG DAYS” OF HOCKEY APPROACHING

 

Carey Price

 

Hockey Fans were treated to two entertaining and exciting events over the Holidays. The Winter Classic was a success, thanks to the foresight of the NHL and the weather man. Because of a weather front bringing rain to the Pittsburgh area on the afternoon of the contest, the game was delayed and rescheduled to an 8 o’clock start. By doing so, the league was blessed with 3 extra hours of exposure on the NBC network and a prime time audience for the game. Let’s give the league officials credit for putting up a great show again in this highly anticipated yearly event. 

 The World Jr Tournament in Buffalo was also a great feast for hockey fans around the world. I was impressed with the speed, skill and execution from those young athletes. The coaching is phenomenal and the competition great. The players performance shows how this generation of players is more ready to make the step to the pros then they were 10-15 years ago. Many of them have been competing at a high level  from a very young age, some of them already had played some pro games. Top players are already training with personal trainers and their body and work ethic are far more advanced. 
The next event to look forward to is the All-Star game on January 30. Yes I did say looking forward to the All-Star game. I never thought I would ever say that. Those games have been known to be extremely boring and useless.  Brendan Shanahan’s idea of choosing teams on the night before the game raises a sense of competition in me and I’m sure in the players involved in the game. It will provoke more intensity and create a sense of belonging among the players. To further enhance the competitive level, the league, the sponsors and the NHLPA should throw in some money to the winning team. In turn the two teams could pick one or two charities to donate the money to. What a great cause and a super human interest story. My suggestion is that the winning charity would receive 75% and the losing charity 25/%. Everybody wins.    

Then come the “Dog Days of Hockey”. The months of January and February always seem long and tedious and without much excitement.  Even as a player, coach and scout, I’ve had to work extra hard to find the energy, the focus and the motivation to perform every single day and every game. It’s too far from the start of the season with all its expectations and excitement and it’s too far from the end to visualize the thrilling sprint for playoff positioning and matchups.  

Recently, Carey Price, goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, was quoted saying almost the same thing to support this comment:  

Carey Price admits to a mental lull. He told reporters that January is the “toughest time of the year” to set team goals. “Not only has the excitement of the (season) start gone away, but it’s still too early to think about the playoffs,” said Price, Even though they refuse to talk about fatigue following 15 games in 31 days last month, goaltender Carey Price admits to a mental lull.    

The teams who keep their focus, stay healthy and play consistent hockey during those “Dog Days” will reap the benefits in the end. Coaches must find innovative ways to keep their team sharp. Creating short term goals then and throughout the season is an excellent way to keep the juices flowing. In the meantime, hockey fans can only watch and wait. The last stretch promises to be very close again this season.  

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY  

 Phil Myre