3.24.2007

Blame Game Part I


“First to worst”, “Champs to chumps”, “Absolute fucking garbage”….while working on slogans for the Oilers’ season ticket campaign I was thinking about how we could go from such glory to this. I remember the Stanley Cup being in Rexall for game 6 and thinking it couldn’t get any better than this, and that was only about nine months ago. What went wrong? Everyone wants to say it was our AHL defence, or how the “deepest set of forwards in the NHL” (a Kelly Hrudey quote) could be 29th in goals for (I hope Columbus passes us), or some even say the injuries of late, and I’m not even going to touch on the Smyth trade (though I’ll say it largely contributes to our losing streak).

But I think I’m going to say it is none of the above (well the second one is close). We are fucktacular because certain players caught KLowe (he should be a bad rapper) in a state of euphoric disillusion post playoff and bent him over the bargaining table. There contracts have forced us to remain status quo because they are payed well to play a position they do not succeed at and the money they make has tied up our budget to bring in better players. I’m going to say Fernando Pisani, Ales Hemsky, and Shawn Horcoff should take the lion’s share of blame. That’s right, those exact three players. They took playoff glory and got blank cheques from Lowe and the EIG and then went on cruise easy street in their Escalades. Now I know you going to want to say guys like Lupul and Torres have done fuck all this season and your right, but they don’t get the blame. Lupul’s contributed nothing to last years cup run so he shouldn’t have been expected to do it this year and his 2.2 mil salary is decent for the 28 goal scorer he was last season (GM’s can’t see into the future….shocking I know, now if only everyone else knew). Now you’re going to say well Torres did, and your right, but he makes 900k this season, and this post is about bang for your buck, unfortunately he’s about even or slightly below which is close enough to be left off the list, but still leaving a sour taste in my mouth after what I saw him do last year.

Now I’ll break the list down even further. Pisani has 25 points in 68 games, and 2.5 million that does not make, but he provides two way play like no other forward and it shows as he currently leads our team overall in +/- (amongst regulars). His 14 goals are about on par with what he’s accustomed to and we all have to admit he was paid because he was deemed a playoff performer (Re: John Madden) and not making the playoffs didn’t allow him the chance to earn his money. Ales Hemsky’s season can not be considered as good as his last. 49 points in 57 games is not very good but is only a mediocre drop in points per game (.86 this, .95 last). His 3.5 mil salary this season was paid thinking he would improve upon his totals of last season, his underachieving pales in comparison to the greatest cancer this team has had to bare. That’s right, the super model himself. Shawn fucking Horcoff. I’m writing this assuming that we can all agree prior to this season we knew 3.6 mil was an overpayment, we just didn’t realize how much of one. But I’m not here to argue his contract. Wow it’s the end of the third paragraph and I’m finally getting to my point. The Edmonton Oilers (as any hockey team) have needed a first line center all season and Horcoff as FAILED in that role. Shawn Horcoff is not a first line center and does not belong on the Oilers.

The expectations I hold to the 1C spot on any roster is a player who can carry the load offensively for his team no matter the circumstances (or linemates), still hold his head above water defensively. For comparisons sake, I created a list of all first line centers in the NHL. It shows their point per game totals over the past three seasons in the NHL as well as the total +/- of these seasons.

Team

Player

06-07

05-06

03-04

Avg. of 3

Total +/-

Pittsburgh

Crosby

1.52

1.26


1.38

+6

San Jose

Thornton

1.36

1.58

0.95

1.30

+70

TampaBay

Lecavalier

1.31

0.94

0.81

1.01

+21

Ottawa

Spezza

1.28

1.32

0.71

1.08

+57

Boston

Savard

1.25

1.18

1.16

1.20

-14

Buffalo

Briere

1.22

1.21

0.79

1.04

+15

Colorado

Sakic

1.19

1.06

1.07

1.12

+26

Detroit

Datsyuk

1.11

1.16

0.91

1.06

+54

Florida

Jokinen

1.05

1.09

0.71

0.95

+11

NYR

Nylander

1.03

0.98

0.78

0.98

+39

Toronto

Sundin

1.01

1.11

0.93

1.01

+17

Anaheim

McDonald

0.96

1.04

0.38

0.79

+26

Vancouver

H. Sedin

0.95

0.91

0.55

0.81

+49

Calgary

Langkow

0.95

0.72

0.64

0.76

+26

Los Angeles

Kopitar

0.86



0.86

-9

Carolina

Staal

0.85

1.22

0.38

0.82

-21

Nashville

Arnott

0.85

0.94

0.78

0.86

+51

New Jersey

Gomez

0.85

1.02

0.88

0.92

+32

Montreal

Koivu

0.84

0.86

0.81

0.84

-8

NYI

Yashin

0.84

0.80

0.72

0.79

-6

Minnesota

Rolston

0.83

0.96

0.59

0.79

+27

Dallas

Modano

0.73

0.99

0.58

0.77

+9

St. Louis

Weight

0.71

0.81

0.87

0.84

-13

Edmonton

Horcoff

0.65

0.92

0.50

0.69

-18

Phoenix

Reinprict

0.63

0.65

0.66

0.65

+10

Columbus

Federov

0.62

0.69

0.81

0.71

-13

Chicago

Ruutu

0.57

0.33

0.57

0.53

-34

Philly

Carter

0.56

0.52


0.53

+51

Washington

Beech

0.44

0.30


0.42

-21

Atlanta

Holik

0.36

0.52

0.68

0.52

-5

*As of March 24, 2007.

So as you can see Horcoff ranks 24th out of 30 centers in scoring this season. Of the bottom 15 teams listed only 6 are in the playoffs and of the top 15 teams listed 10 of them currently hold a playoff spot. Of the top 18 teams 13 hold playoff spots leaving only 3 of the bottom 12 teams in the playoffs. Only 1 in the bottom 8 holds a spot and that is because Holik plays on a team with Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk, and the Thrashers also felt a glaring need for a #1C so they traded for Tkachuk in Feburary.

This shows a relationship between the offensive performance of you top center and your teams overall performance. Other things that stand out from the chart are the +/- of every player. Only 2 players out of the 30 have a worse +/- over the last 3 years than Horcoff. Of the 16 teams currently in playoff positions only 2 have plus with a negative +/- (Holik, Staal).

End of Part I

2 comments:

Rory said...

I agree with the 3 players to be blamed, but I do not believe only 3 players can take a team from conference champs to an early trip to the country club. Lupul and Staios are additional players that did not contribute as much as they are capable of. Other members of the Oilers organization should include Mac-T, KLowe,Patrick Laforge, and the man responsible for training Ethan Moreau.

While Staios is only -5 (not bad considering what has happened in the last month) he is on pace to have his poorest point output since 01-02, and considering the players we lost last summer, and being the veteran that he is he should have been a better leader for the younger players (especially Hejda and Smid), and more importantly put more points up on the board. As for Lupul I was excited he was coming here, he could play real well with so many of the forwards, but he has played his worst season so far, and much much worse than last year, and his defensive play is non-existent, which is something the whole team needed to improve on with the lack of experience back there.

Now Craig Mactavish is a real character, he's a funny guy, but make some fucking lines and stick with them, stop changing them every friggin' game. Shaking things up is good once in a while but not every 45 seconds. Line chemistry is important and sometimes it looked like he was going off of what NHL 07 displays for chemistry (we should play that again, good times). And Kevin Lowe for having NOOOOO BALLS, as Josh explained being bent over the table in the off-season, but not getting anything at the trade deadline? We still had a chance at play-offs at that point, he did great last year, and still has a chance at the draft this year. I blame Laforge for not getting a farm team sooner, having players spread out all over the place is bad for development cause they do not play under the Oilers system, and there are fewer spots for prospects in the minors, leaving them in the ECHL, CHL, and Europe. As for Moreau's trainer I know Ethan is huge and powerful, I saw him train last summer at work and some of the plyometric exercises he did are just mind boggling, maybe they should have spent a little more time on his shoulders and upper back, yeah freak accidents happen but that was really weird how he his season ended.

Wow this was long comment, wonder what else I could have done in this time?

Josh Coates said...

wow ya, really good points. I tended to stay away from coaching and management and focused on what players had an impact from year to year, because i feel they don't take enough of it. And to be honest, if you look at it purely mathematically nothing has changed in coaching or management so how much blame can it take? But i'm with you on the MacT is a loser.

But not having an AHL team of our own didn't hurt us as much as you'd think. All of our prospects had successful years.

And funny how important a guy like Moreau is to our team eh?