Sunday, May 18, 2008

"There You Go Again"

That was the great line from the Carter/Reagan Presidential debate in 1980. Every time Jimmy Carter would rip into Reagan about something he did or said, Reagan would respond with that line, "There you go again." That would defuse the issue and eventually was Carter's undoing. What reminded me of that Reagan one-liner was Larry Brooks' Slap Shot article in Sunday's New York Post. There was Brooks going on again about Sather fixing to sign Jagr up for supposedly a one year re-up. I say supposedly because if Jagr gets signed it will be for two years because that is when Jagr's daddy wants him back to the Czech Republic to probably add to the family fortunes, or pay off some debts.

There was Brooks also intimating that Jagr's statement in the first year after the lockout, "We will make the playoffs" is akin or maybe even greater than Mark Messier's, "We will win" prior to game six against the Devils. Yeah, and I'm the second coming of Red Smith and coach clueless is the next Scotty Bowman. It's amazing how the apologists have circled the wagons around this great Drain Trust of the Absentee Owner, the Stealth GM and coach clueless. The Three Wise Men. Only, instead of the Gift of the Magi, they are giving us the gift of mediocre continuity. Yes, you heard right. Mediocre continuity.

Remember one thing though on this Jagr signing. He is not alone, he has company. In horse racing parlance they call it an entry. So we have Jagr,1A, joined by Straka, 1B, and Rozsival, 1C. Sign Jagr and it is a guarantee that The Stealth also inks Straka and Rozsival. You want to know what else it guarantees? It guarantees the same kind of perimeter, tic-tac-toe hockey we have had the last three years. It guarantees that Scotty Gomez and Chris Drury will continue to toil away as second and third line centers ad infinitum. It guarantees that the young players, with the possible exception of Dubinsky, will continue to get less ice time and in effect less meaningful ice time. It almost guarantees the complete dissappearance of Petr Prucha, either back to Hartford, or as trade bait. It guarantees the same sloppy, no hit, back on your heels type defense that is personified by Michal Rozsival. To my friend across the aisle in section 336 it guarantees that there is no way he will see Bobby Sanguinetti in a Ranger uniform next year.

The signing guarantees the same ineffectual power play which has been the bane of the team for three years. It guarantees the same kind of passive play that has been a hallmark of this team for the past three years. The question to ask is it really all that important to make the playoffs if a second round elimination is almost a guarantee? What is the gain if we continue to be a second round patsy? San Jose fired their coach, Ron Wilson, as he failed for the third time in four playoff appearances to get his team out of the second round. To top it off, he is their all time winningest coach. They get it, why don't we? We don't want to get it. The money rolls in for the playoffs and it all goes to the bottom line. So the Absentee Owner gets it and in effect so do his underlings, Stealth and clueless.

While other teams build a system the Rangers keep trying to find 'the right centerman' to fit in with Jagr. The Rangers are built around Jagr. What does this do for the team? What does this do for Gomez? Drury? Prucha? Dawes? Callahan? There will be more on this, but for the moment think about this. Do the Rangers really want to sign Jagr up for another tour of duty at MSG? There you go again.



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9 comments:

  • Anonymous said...
     

    The Pens run makes the Rangers look like the 2nd best team in the East. So the logic would be that this team was only a player (strong defense man) or two (PP QB) away from greatness. Won't the mgm't then want to bring back all the Czechs for one more try. But that really means at least two more trys because they'll end up with 2 year deals? I agree with you, but the devil's advocate has their ear.

  • mike said...
     

    anonymous-Bring back all those Czechs and where is the money to get that tough D man and QB? They'll save money by not signing Avery and then they won't even make the playoffs.

  • Section 335 said...
     

    In this salary cap world it is not surprising which two teams ended in the finals. Each team has its own story that explains why the cap hurt them less. Detroit has great management and several players who have taken under market contracts because they love their city, their team and how they are treated. The Pens have three reasonably cheap #1 picks overall who are paid a lot less than they would at full value.

    How can the Rangers compete? The only answer is young talent and getting a few stars to take less to play here. Fortunately, New York has a value above many other cities for European players. The money we have has to be spent wisely. Jagr needs to be kept. The other Czechs are not worth the money. Better to have Hossa or someone similar in talent through a trade.

    This team is pretty close to the top of the league in talent. It is in the top eight. Just two more players needed. It can be done.

  • Section 335 said...
     

    Mike, I think you will find this amusing.

    http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080515.wsptryder15/GSStory/GlobeSportsHockey/home

  • me again said...
     

    Measuring coaches

    ALAN RYDER

    Globe and Mail Update

    May 15, 2008 at 11:54 AM EDT

    At this time of year they drop like maple keys. Coaches were hired to be fired.

    Ron Wilson became the latest 'maple key' this week when the San Jose Sharks decided that second overall in the NHL's regular season was not good enough. The problem was a second-round exit when many were picking the Sharks to win four games in Round 4.

    Wilson's problem might have been a lack of commitment from his superiors. The Sharks' success in this and prior years was in spite of a small payroll — this season the fourth lowest in the NHL. One or both of the two (unrelated) Wilsons, Ron or general manager Doug Wilson, have done a masterful job finding valuable performances in inexpensive players.

    Ron might now be entitled to complain that a few more millions spent on the right kinds of players might have been all that stood between him and a Stanley Cup.

    Measuring the performance of general managers is relatively easy. Strong or steadily improving teams have good GMs. Weak or weakening teams don't. The GM has total accountability for a team's performance.

    Measuring coaching is not so simple.

    There is an awful lot that a coach is asked to do. He is in charge of conditioning, skill development, motivation, systems design, on-ice deployment and game strategy. But frequently, because of the new economics of hockey, he does not get to pick his players. And sometimes he has no talent with which to work.

    Coaches don't have that full accountability.

    Alexander Ovechkin did not score 65 goals this season because of Bruce Boudreau's coaching. Joe Thornton has not recorded 370 assists over the past five seasons because of the coaching in Boston and San Jose. Roberto Luongo, facing more shots (11,172) than any other goaltender, recorded the NHL's best save percentage (.921) over the past five seasons. It was not the coaching in Florida and Vancouver that got him to the top of the heap.

    I have a thesis that coaches don't have a material impact on the performance of talented players, especially 5-on-5. Coaching does not put many pucks in the net. Offense relies much more on talent. But coaching can make a big difference in goal prevention. Defense is a learnable skill.

    An examination of a team's defensive performance might therefore help us with the measure of a coach. A study of the coach's systems might tell us more. These are revealed most clearly on the power play and penalty kill.

    So, to measure coaching, let's look at special team performances — power play (PP%) and penalty kill (PK%) success. I will add to the mix penalty taking (SHO) because short-handed situations indicate a lack of discipline, poor positioning and/or a weak defensive system. Let's also throw in team performance in drawing penalties (PPO). This is an indicator of an up-tempo, motivated team.

    To measure overall defense we should also consider shots on goal (fewer is always better) and shot quality (SQ). This latter measurement is my own, based on an assessment of the 'danger' of each and every shot allowed. The best team in the NHL at preventing dangerous shots was Columbus (about 11% less likely to be goals than an average team) and the worst was St. Louis (about 7% more likely).

    For each of these measurements I have given a coach 100 points for the best performance and 0 points for the worst performance. For the 28 performances in between, I have used interpolation between the best and worst to award points (for example, a median performance gets 50 points).

    Below is the scoreboard, showing points in the standings, the points I have awarded to coaching in each of the six performance categories I indentified above and the overall coaching score for each team:

    Team


    Points


    PPO


    PP%


    SHO


    PK%


    Shots


    SQ


    Score

    SJ


    108


    63


    46


    92


    100


    94


    67


    462

    DET


    115


    77


    66


    48


    77


    100


    46


    413

    MIN


    98


    34


    48


    73


    92


    37


    92


    376

    MON


    104


    63


    100


    62


    58


    23


    45


    350

    BUF


    90


    56


    39


    70


    67


    54


    51


    336

    NYR


    97


    60


    24


    61


    83


    77


    24


    329

    DAL


    97


    47


    40


    50


    97


    76


    10


    320

    CBJ


    80


    48


    8


    28


    68


    63


    100


    315

    NAS


    91


    50


    7


    68


    95


    40


    51


    311

    WAS


    94


    40


    47


    55


    32


    61


    69


    305

    NJ


    99


    19


    15


    88


    62


    62


    57


    303

    VAN


    88


    59


    30


    37


    59


    49


    68


    302

    TB


    71


    0


    52


    90


    53


    55


    50


    299

    PHI


    95


    72


    77


    19


    67


    20


    41


    296

    PIT


    102


    66


    63


    48


    38


    30


    50


    295

    CAR


    92


    100


    47


    50


    12


    49


    37


    294

    PHO


    83


    35


    45


    71


    35


    31


    62


    278

    COL


    95


    31


    5


    100


    44


    64


    29


    273

    CAL


    94


    45


    27


    19


    44


    52


    77


    264

    LA


    71


    56


    34


    93


    0


    18


    31


    233

    EDM


    88


    39


    25


    39


    86


    25


    18


    231

    BOS


    94


    19


    35


    71


    8


    33


    61


    226

    STL


    79


    31


    0


    46


    82


    63


    0


    221

    CHI


    88


    56


    18


    21


    53


    51


    10


    209

    ANA


    102


    52


    25


    0


    65


    57


    7


    207

    OTT


    94


    26


    42


    26


    40


    38


    30


    202

    TOR


    83


    38


    37


    52


    1


    44


    25


    198

    NYI


    79


    27


    4


    31


    50


    35


    51


    198

    FLA


    85


    14


    51


    32


    56


    3


    34


    190

    ATL


    76


    16


    24


    50


    10


    0


    54


    155

    The coach's job is to win. But that is highly influenced by talent. The measurements I have used are also influenced by talent. One can see an obvious correlation between points in the standings and my coaching score. But it is the deviations between points and the coaching score that are most interesting.

    This says that the worst coaching of playoff-bound teams went on in Anaheim and Ottawa. The Senators are a very talented team that is universally regarded as having underachieved this season. The Ducks' performance in 2007-08 was mainly due to the performance of J-S Giguere in net. Both teams made a quick exit from the playoffs.

    There are now coaching vacancies in four of the bottom five teams in my coaching ratings — Atlanta, Florida, Toronto and Ottawa. On Long Island, Ted Nolan should be listening for footsteps that belong to GM Garth Snow and/or owner Charles Wang.

    Colorado's Joel Quenneville had a middling rating from my process. But that was an inadequate performance — he was recently canned.

    My top rated coach (by some distance) in an admittedly imprecise measurement process was Ron Wilson. Yet he is also on the street, looking for work. It was his third successive second-round playoff defeat. Apparently this was not good enough.

    Wilson ranks 8th in career (regular season) coaching wins (518) but he seems to have suffered from shark asphyxiation — when a shark stops moving forward it dies.

  • The Dark Ranger said...
     

    If there is any truth to Jagr being offered $12 million to play in the Avangard Omsk League, he must go -- for his own sake and the sake of our team. I credit three years in the playoffs to him, but now is a time of rebuilding.

    Slats will never be able to keep him for less than the combined RANGERs pay and Capitals subsidies.

    tdr

  • mike said...
     

    section 335-You can get the best players in the world and if you don't know how to use them, use them right or not use them at all it doesn't matter. See Gomez, Drury and Prucha. Its the coaching.

    For some reason couldn't get to that link you sent me. Thanks anyway.

  • mike said...
     

    me again-So now I know coach clueless's problem. He is statistically unstable.

  • mike said...
     

    the dark ranger-Can't see him turning down 12 big ones. Maybe they will have some leftover for Straka and Rozsival.