Archive for February, 2008

Paddock is not a kind of fish….or is it?

February 28, 2008

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I’ve fired people before.  I don’t like it.  There is not one minute of the process that I enjoy.  It does not matter if I like the person or not.  It just plain sucks.  I don’t (yet) know what it’s like to be fired, but I suspect it also sucks. 

So, with that said, I am not glad that John Paddock, who by all reports is a good man, was fired.  I am, howver, relieved that Paddock was fired and there is nothing mean spirited in my statement or feeling. 

It has been pure torture watching as the wheels on the bus would no longer go ’round ‘n ’round.  It’s a little ironic that Paddock was thrown under a bus that isn’t moving.  I guess it then makes sense that he was offered another job in the organization.  Since the bus won’t kill him, they may as well put him to work. 

So, what’s been wrong with the Senators? 

The simplest thing to do is to go back to what was different when they were playing well. 

1. Hitting; the biggest difference I see between the 16-3 Senators and the pile of crap that lost 5-0 to the Leafs is that they just don’t take the body.  Mike Fisher was even a little guilty of laying off on potential hits from time to time and I don’t ever remember thinking that about him in the past.  (note: the same cannot be said for the next game against the Bruins.  I’ve seen too many people saying that the Sentors had another poor effort in Boston and that just wasn’t the case.  They played some pretty shitty hockey, but the effort was good)

2. Gap Control:  Another part of being difficult to play against is limiting time and space.  They Senators were lauded for being difficult to play against in the early season (by a Leafs player, no less) and the tapes of those games show defensemen stepping up to take away space from an on-rushing forward; closing down gaps and being quick to the passing lanes. 

When you boil it down, those are the two areas where they’ve stunk lately.  To be sure, there have been nights where the effort just wasn’t there and the 5-0 loss to the Leafs was certainly one of them, but pretty much all of their problems stem from these two issues.  Emery and Gerber have looked bad and while they may not be top shelf goalie talent, they were being helped by a team that was tough to play against from hitting and gap control standpoints.  Emery’s and Gerber’s poor performances are a sympton of the problem.  It would be great if we had a top shelf goalie (you want Heatley and Spezza on the team, right?), but either one of these guys, [big qualifier coming] when in the right state of mind are enough to get us there if we’re tending to business in other areas. 

So, back to the fish under the bus.  I would say, unequivocally, that Paddock is responsible for the two problems as I see them.  He’s the one who either has to motivate them to do these things, or teach them how to do these things.   And I’ll say this, often times the coaches that players like best, are the ones who don’t deserve a job.   Not to mention, I was really getting tired with the endless tinkering with the lines.  Let them create some chemistry for chrissakes.

One last thing to consider:  In the lockout year, Paddock was coaching a Baby Sens team that included the likes of Spezza, Volchenkov, Pothier, Meszaros, Emery, Hamel, Eaves, Schubert and Steve Martins; all of whom had either played in the NHL already or would shortly.  They lost to a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team that finished 14 points behind them in the standing, in the first round of the playoffs.  From this, you might even have been able to predict that Paddock was not adept at getting the most out of his players.

I love my job and would feel like complete crap if it was taken from me.  So, I feel bad for John Paddock today because he’s lost a job I’m assuming he loved.   I wish him well, but I really wish he’d been better for the Senators. 

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Secondary Scoring

February 11, 2008

The Senators pulled off the first big trade of the trading season sending Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves to Carolina for Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman.  Both Stillman and Commodore have a Cup for Carolina so there’s definitely something to be said for that.  Commodore is a tough defensive defenseman and Stillman is a savvy vet who has great instincts around the net. 

You don’t get something for nothing (just ask Neil Peart), so the Sens give up a highly maligned (and somewhat unjustifiably so) puck moving offensive defenseman in Corvo and a hard working 3rd liner with a decent set of hands in Eaves.  If you look at it from purely a player perspective, the Sens get the better of it, but the Canes get two additional years of Corvo at a reasonable rate and a player who is a RFA after the season, where the Sens get two players going to Unrestricted Free Agency at the end of the season. 

That in an of itself is probably not a problem.  I’d like to see the Senators make a play to keep Commodore around (assuming he fits in with the room).  He’s only making $1.25 million this year.  He may be in line for more, but he’d probably fit in the salary structure.  Even if they don’t re-sign him, they’re probably thinking that Brian Lee and Lawrence Nycholat are ready for a shot.  This all assumes that Redden is gone, as previously written here.

  Again, assuming that Stillman can develop some chemistry with his new teammates, he adds some secondary scoring that everyone seems to think the Sens are desperate for.  Everyone seems to think that Heatley, Spezza and Alfie account for an inordinate and unhealthy number of the teams goals.  Here’s a little analysis of secondary scoring I put together that addresses this assumption:  (secondary scoring for these purposes is all goals scored by team members NOT on the top line for their teams.  I didn’t do the analysis for every team in the NHL, just the teams that might be considered major Cup contenders)

SECONDARY SCORING

Senators 109 – Wings  115 – Ducks  85 – Habs 111 – Sharks  95 – Flames  82 – Flyers 114 – Penguins  96

HERE IT IS IN ANOTHER FORMAT

Senators Ducks Wings Habs
First Line Goals 85 59 72 62
Secondary Scoring 109 85 115 111
Total 194 144 187 173
% by First Line 43.81% 40.97% 38.50% 35.84%
Sharks Flames Flyers Penguins
First Line Goals 48 76 63 69
Secondary Scoring 95 82 114 96
Total 143 158 177 165
% by First Line 33.57% 48.10% 35.59% 41.82%

Perception is not reality here folks.  The Pizza line gets a higher percentage of their teams goals, but that’s because the Senators are the highest scoring team in the NHL. 

With that said, I’d like to see the Senators move Alfie to a line with Stillman and Fisher and put Vermette on the top line to spread a little of the offense out.  But, it doesn’t seem that Paddock and Murray before him, see Vermette as top line material.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. 

Hockey Day in Canada!!

February 9, 2008

I’ll say it again; Hockey Day in Canada is my favorite day of the year.  It’s my Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving all rolled into one.  It’s Canada’s gift to me, full of tasty treats and a full day of sport.   I sold my tickets to the Wild game so I wouldn’t miss a minute of the celebration. 

Redden is a selfish, selfish boy!

 That’s what some malcontents suggested when Redden did not want to discuss a move to another team before the trade deadline.  Thankfully, a majority of people polled, don’t hold this judgement:

Do you consider players selfish if they refuse to waive their no-trade clause?

Yes
22%

No
78%

I have no idea what’s wrong with the 22% who disagree.  First of all, this is the major reason to negotiate a no-trade clause (the other being to control where you might be willing to be traded).  Redden wants to stay and play out his contract with the Senators.  The only selfishness involved is the very best kind; the kind that displays committment and leadership.  I’m more than happy to have Redden go to battle in the playoffs for this team and then see how it all plays out after the season is over.  Even with some of his erratic play this year, he’s still a far better defenseman than anyone we would bring up from Bingo or (the rumoured) Matt Carle who would have come back in the trade.  Not to mention that chemistry, as much as anything, is a key ingredient to a Cup run.  

With this final NO to a trade, (this isn’t the first time Murray’s asked him to waive the NTC), I expect to see the Redden Senators’ fans used to love, the rest of the way down the stretch.

I’ve seen a couple people question the decision to play Redden with Corvo.  First of all, I’ll admit that I’m a Joe Corvo apologist; I really like his skating and niftiness (oh gosh, Beave) with the puck, but I think there may be some solid psychology behind playing them together (I’m not a psychologist but I have three close friends who are).  I think playing them together might force both of them to think a bit more defensively knowing that the other might go on a wild rush or cough up the puck.  It’s a bit of a stretch, I know but it’s something I’ve been (over)thinking lately.  Of course, the biggest problem with this pairing is that they both tend to get run over by a good forecheck and that isn’t likely to change without some concentrated work in the weight room. 

Ollie Jokinen

Would I love to see Ollie Jokinen in a Senators sweater?  You betchyer sweet ass! (those of you who have one).  Jokinen is an under-appreciated player who borders on being a superstar, he’s only being paid $5.25 million and is signed through 2010. 

There’s an anonymous GM quoted as saying “”I’d love to make a play for Olli Jokinen, but I can’t get a hold of Jacques Martin, and he won’t return my calls.”

Now, I don’t have any inside information about which GM made the comment, but I’d give you 5-1 that it was Bryan Murray.  I’d be further willing to bet that you will never see a trade between the Sens and Panthers as long as Jacques Martin is the GM for that team.  Martin turned down a Phillips/Vermette/Emery for Roberto Luongo trade.  Obviously, it’s personal with Martin because the crap trade he ended up making for Bertuzzi, Alex Auld and Bryan Allen, only one of whom are still with the club, should have been enough to get him fired.  Add to that, that Martin doesn’t speak to the best player currently on his roster (Ollie Jokinen) and you have the makings of a mad man.  Putting your personal anger ahead of the good of the team you coach and manage is bad for business, just ask Sonny Corleone (when you see him).

By the way, PJ Stock is the worst thing to happen to Hockey Night in Canada in a long time.

{NDIC Update}  Ok, it’s probably well assumed that I don’t like the Maple Leafs.  But I no longer think the Leafs should trade Mats Sundin and it’s not out of any kind of spite (in that I think it’s probably what they need to do to get better).  Mats was singing along to O’ Canada before the Leafs/Wings game today.  Maybe I’m a little over-emotional today, but I think Mats deserves whatever he wants.

{HDIC Update}  Dean Brown and Garry Galley have the call for the CBC.  They’re not doing a very good job of hiding their loyalties, which is more than a little disappointing to me given how hard I ride Harry Neale for the same thing with regards to the Leafs.  Hands down, the most objective announcer is Doc Emrick who gives a very objective call whether he’s working for the Devils, Versus or NBC.

It’s All My Fault

February 2, 2008

To:  The Sens Army

From:  Hockeyschlock

Re:  I’m sorry

You can call him Ray!  You can call him Rayzor!  You can call him “The Tardy ‘Tender” (please don’t), but DO NOT call him late for practice

Please people; stop throwing dirty tampons at Ray Emery.  I can explain why he was late for practice because I was with him in Vegas.  My family and friends think I was in Tahoe that weekend, but no; I decided that skiing Squaw Valley for 3 days was nothing compared to the kind of fun I can have on a Ray Day or 3.  You haven’t partied until you’ve spent an all-star weekend in the City of Satan with the Lindsey Lohan of Hockey.  I mean; he’s acting (hence the Lohan reference…get it?  Ray is acting!) like it was an honest mistake, when he knows all along that it’s my fault and really, he was late for his flight because of my poor judgement.  I appreciate that he’s trying to protect me, but alas, I must come clean. 

Ray and I were in church all weekend.  I guess you could call it church anyway.  We gathered up 20 Vegas hookers and drove to Hilldale, Utah, where Warren Jeffs “married” us to 1o each.  We then spent a very religious weekend in our 6000 square foot shack getting to know our new wives.   You see, I convinced Ray that the kingdom of heaven would be his if he would just embrace polygamy.  He’s really very impressionable and thought that having a piece of that action sounded pretty good.  I’m ashamed that I allowed my significant guile to influence him.  However, I guess I’m not totally surprised that he embraced the idea almost immediately, when I think about it. 

Anyway, Ray got up to blow his nose and leave a leak, with plenty of time to get back to Vegas for his flight on Monday, but one of his new flames came to see him in the bathroom; the one that really burns when you potty. 

Now, Ray’s new religion frowns on getting medical attention, but I thought that given his important position as a goaltender for a team that has designs on winning a Cup, it would probably be a good idea to get him a shot or two before heading on to the other City That Never Sleeps.  That was just me trying to help Ray show some good judgement and it took a little time to find the kind of doctor that we needed.  I had no idea that it would end up costing Ray a day’s salary.  I feel pretty bad about that; although now that I think about it, the hookers cost quite a bit more than that and I don’t feel bad about them at all; except when I pee, anyway. 

You probably know about all the fallout from my bad advice.   But, I think things are going to work out just fine.  Ray gets a start tonight in Toronto.  I know his surgically repaired wrist is just fine; you should see some of the things he was doing with it last weekend.