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The elephant in the room

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So you basically want Lavi to tell the veterans:

"Well, thanks for getting us this far, but since you haven't produced in the last 5/10 games, we're booting you to bring up an unproven prospect. If we're lucky, you may get to play in the playoffs. Won't that be great?"

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So you basically want Lavi to tell the veterans:

"Well, thanks for getting us this far, but since you haven't produced in the last 5/10 games, we're booting you to bring up an unproven prospect. If we're lucky, you may get to play in the playoffs. Won't that be great?"

Yeah, I'm sure Lavi would say it exactly like this. Be reasonable. What he's talking about is just giving these younger guys a chance. You know, sometimes they really are the better players. These younger guys are driven because a lot of them have barely played in the NHL. And I'm sure if this ever really happened, it wouldn't be based on 5-10 games, more like the last two recent months of the season (December and January). Just don't take what he's saying and repeat it wrong. You know that's really not what he's saying now.

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Yeah, I'm sure Lavi would say it exactly like this. Be reasonable. What he's talking about is just giving these younger guys a chance. You know, sometimes they really are the better players. These younger guys are driven because a lot of them have barely played in the NHL. And I'm sure if this ever really happened, it wouldn't be based on 5-10 games, more like the last two recent months of the season (December and January). Just don't take what he's saying and repeat it wrong. You know that's really not what he's saying now.

That's exactly what he's saying. He's saying that, after the All-Star break, take veterans who aren't producing and replace them with AHLers.

Now don't get me wrong, I've been constantly impressed by the play of our callups this season (especially considering the play of Aucoin and Bayda before this season), and it's a crime that Borer is stuck in the AHL. But it's just too risky to replace the players that have gotten you 40+ games into the season (with hopefully more wins than losses) with unproven players. It messes with chemistry, it messes with the team, and most of all, it shows no loyalty to the players.

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To be honest, I've alluded to this a few times myself in the past couple months. The older players just don't seem to have the same drive and desire to win that our younger players do. Guys like Brindy, Hedican, etc seemed to have already mentally checked out of their careers after their names were engraved on the Cup and they're just now only playing to earn the paycheck. Going through the motions, so to speak.

Anyway, I really can't say I'm all that surprised that we play better when we have a wave of new blood coming into the team. I thought Brindy had been one of our weakest links for the past month or more, and I'm kind of intrigued to see how the team plays without him in the lineup. Recently he has just been too slow and clumsy and it was really effecting the play of his line overall. I think with a quicker center on that line, Samsonov could really take off. And lets not even go into how Ladd has the opportunity to really shine while playing on a top line instead of being relegated all the way back to where he was.

If anything, I think the moves we've made have actually helped align our lines to where they should be in terms of skill level right now as opposed to aligning them based on how they have produced for us in the past. And it is showing on the scoreboard.

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A couple of caveats before I begin:

(1) Of COURSE I'm not happy that we have so many key guys out! (preemptive :rolleyes: )

(2) Yes, I'm posting this less than 24 hours after Roddy went down. I figured once the "Who should wear the 'C'" thread went up it was O.K. ;)

There is no doubt that our remaining "name" players stepped up in a big way Thursday night. Their efforts were rightly lauded by the team shills (Forsy and Captain Tripps -- seriously, I love you guys!).

But let's be honest. We've all noticed it this year and most of us have said so: This team is playing waaaaaay better in almost direct proportion to the number of guys from the Rats who are here to "help out."

It's something I started thinking about when Cam shined so brightly in the Cup drive. I've thought about it more with advent of Crosby, Malkin, and the Brothers Staal. So here it is: Could the best strategy for success -- this season for us certainly, but perhaps in the longer term and around the league -- be to bring up kids who are really hungry after the All-Star Break to replace vets who just aren't producing?

Look, I know Thursday was just one game. Neither am I pretending that kids won't make costly mistakes from time to time. But given the length of the season (and the post season) why should hockey be looked at any differently than basketball, where guys 35 and up are a true rarity?

Call me an ageist, but that's not it. It's about hunger, drive, and performance. Some players can maintain it, some can't. I say be vigilant about putting everybody on notice that the first half of EVERY season is a tryout, and those who can't cut it (regardless of age) will be replaced.

The only reason these Rats are up is because of injuries. We haven't scratched anyone because they haven't produced nor should we. Everyone gets a drought from time to time, and for some players, having the AS Break, they lose their flair. However, if a player hasn't produced all season, lately the NHL's new favorite thing to do is waive the player. This has happened a lot this season. So this is either ridiculous or already being done.

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Given the current unjury situation, I would like to see some of our prospects stay up with the "big team" for the rest of the season. One I would especially like to see is Casey Borer. he looks ready for the NHL now. I think he could contribute now and it would also be a valuable learning experience. Having some of thee prospects stay would be better than mortaging the future with a rental player or two for just this season.

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"Well, thanks for getting us this far, but since you haven't produced in the last 5/10 games, we're booting you to bring up an unproven prospect. If we're lucky, you may get to play in the playoffs. Won't that be great?"

*******

That's exactly what he's saying. He's saying that, after the All-Star break, take veterans who aren't producing and replace them with AHLers.

Umm, yeah, or you could ask ME what I'm saying if you're not sure, as you clearly are not IceFrog, all due respect.

5-10 games?? How about 5-10 MONTHS? Because we all know it's been just flat-out bad for at least that long. Over the past two seasons, these guys have gotten us essentially nowhere: Near the top of our division, sure, but it's the worst division in the league, and I don't have to tell you that even WINNING it -- unless you do it like we did in 05-06 -- merely punches our ticket into the longest playoff season in pro sports. Without home ice, the law of averages takes over and you only go so far. Has this group done great things for us? Of course, it was a hell of a ride, we all loved it. But it's time to GET OVER IT and ask, "What have they done for us lately?"

I've defended for a long time this team's ability to go out on any given night and dominate. But for closing in on two years, the only thing they've done consistently is be inconsistent -- for three of the four months prior to the ASG this year, and for all of last season.

A lot of folks may counter, "Well, we've had more than our share of injuries." And that's true. But another fact of any contact sport is that the less aggressive you are, the higher your likelihood of getting injured, and I don't think it's purely coincidence that, as one of the least aggressive teams in the NHL, we're also one of the most hurt. (I like that we're taking steps to turn that around.)

SuckaPunched, again, due respect, but why consider it "ridiculous" that guys with more drive and better performance replace those lacking such qualities? I know that's what happens at my office. A slump is a slump, for sure. But where does "slump" stop and "chump" begin? Where's the line? A month? Two? Three? Four? An entire season? Two seasons? That's all I'm trying to discuss here.

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You also have to consider training, playing 41 games so far... someone brought up a point. Maybe we should switch to a new training program.. different strength and conditioning.. and being more aggressive as well.. maybe that could lead to some of our veterans not being able to keep up and not producing.. sometimes after season ending surgeries, or just reaggravated injuries like shoulders, knees, things like that.. I don't know, just thinking..15 years + can take it's toll on some and not so much on others..

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Stuff

Again, you believe that removing some of the veterans on this team and replacing them with callups will make the team better. I don't see the logic behind that, and again, it shows a huge lack of respect to those veterans.

We have one of (if not THE) weakest farm system in the league. Yes, something needs to change, personal-wise, but it's not going to come from Albany. Sure, we may be able to replace the occasional piece with a call-up (Borer for Kaberle/Hedican), but the answer is elsewhere in the league, not in the AHL.

But I'm curious. Who's been in a "slump" for 5-10 months now? Brindamour was mentioned in this topic. Do you really expect to replace Brindamour with Aucoin?

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Given the current unjury situation, I would like to see some of our prospects stay up with the "big team" for the rest of the season. One I would especially like to see is Casey Borer. he looks ready for the NHL now. I think he could contribute now and it would also be a valuable learning experience. Having some of thee prospects stay would be better than mortaging the future with a rental player or two for just this season.

Mormina and Conboy will most likely be going back soon, Bayda possibly as well, because Cullen and Eaves will be returning soon. Mormina and Conboy will be replaced by Corvo and Gleason. Hedican had a lower body injury but can return soon, and Seidenberg practiced with the team for the first time in a while. Borer will hopefully get a break and stay up, which will be the case if Gleason and Corvo return, but not Hedican. Or they all could not return. Tomorrow most likely the Rats call-ups will play, but Monday's 1pm game, they might have Gleason and Corvo rejoin the team along with Cullen and Eaves. Gleason and Corvo are more likely, as they just have to be feeling better. Eaves and Cullen are less likely, Eaves more likely than Cullen. Eaves will probably replace Bayda, and the only way Aucoin will be sent down to Albany is if they put him on waivers.

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SuckaPunched, again, due respect, but why consider it "ridiculous" that guys with more drive and better performance replace those lacking such qualities? I know that's what happens at my office. A slump is a slump, for sure. But where does "slump" stop and "chump" begin? Where's the line? A month? Two? Three? Four? An entire season? Two seasons? That's all I'm trying to discuss here.

Who are you inquiring hasn't produced over the past two seasons? Everyone I see is producing, maybe not soaring off the charts, but they are doing their jobs. The only player who has not been producing IMO is Kaberle, and in that matter, why scratch or waive him when you can trade them? We already did that with Borer, and it payed off, but the numbers game came and sent him back to Albany. It is ridiculous to tell a player who has been in the big leagues for years to sit down and let some kid with no experience play when all he has on you is drive. Motivation is a big part of the sport, as you can see in Jagr's performance this season, it is down due to lack of it. But I can't see who hasn't been producing. We came out in 2006 like nobody expected and a lot of our players had career seasons, you aren't always going to top the last season you played your best the next year.

You should be a Penguins fan if you have this type of mentality, benching or getting rid of all your veteran players for younger players with more drive in them. Every team should have a balance of the two. Everyone saw how far Pittsburgh went in the 2007 playoffs, winning just one game in the first round. Your veterans are the ones you rely on, your younger players are the ones you ride on.

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Again, you believe that removing some of the veterans on this team and replacing them with callups will make the team better. I don't see the logic behind that, and again, it shows a huge lack of respect to those veterans.

With all due respect for veterans, you can't just allow them to take up space on a roster if they are not producing. That is what is most apparent post lockout, IMO. Times past, veterans would get the slot, because...well....they were veterans. It seemed as if the common mantra was...they've played so long that they deserve the top dollar and space on our roster. Gretzky did this last Olympics, and see how far that got Canada in the games, not past the quarterfinals. He was rightly critisized in the press for leaving off Crosby, Staal to name a few. All the analysts were saying this about the young kids left off: "They'll get their chance, they are still young. The veterans deserve to play, they've earned their spot". Well, excuse me! I did not know this was knitting 101, and we have to nice to the veteran players. You put the team on the ice that will win. If you don't have the cajones to to that, take a seat.

Veteran players are old, generally slower if they weren't fast to begin with, and with an extended season, more prone to injury and fatigue. I think the reason our team did so well the cup run is because our prime players had the Olympic break off, this allowed them time to heal up and rest. Even BrindAmour said one post game that it's nice to have the kids come up and provide a spark.

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What Lavi should be telling his veteran players is that they're playing like old men ready for the rocking chair - that they've dissapointed their fans and embarassed themselves- that some of them won't be around next season. Honestly - for about half the home games the Ice Caps would have provided better entertainment value.

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Both JR and Lavi share the trait of being overly loyal to veteran players who aren't performing at past levels. Even when he "gives up" on a player, JR never really fully does and often brings them back.

It was tough for them to deal Stillman and Commodore but from an objective standpoint, their time had come. Stillman is still very dangerous on the PP but has slowed considerably, doesn't work hard nightly, and isn't a high-octane skater that this system thrives on. Commodore has been in a gradual regression for nearly 2 seasons and is only effective when playing with somebody who can cover for his countless mental and physical mistakes. The Canes needed a different mix - faster on the forward lines and more mobile on the backend - and got it with that trade.

The energy level and full 60 minute effort was great against Pittsburgh but let's not kid ourselves. Emotion and hard work can get you a win but to do it on a sustained basis is another thing. Anyone who was a fan after the Cup loss in 2002 saw a lot of hard work and a few top-tier players surrounded by mediocre NHL talent. The Canes have needed that blend of "go to" vet players and the energy of guys who can actually score too. That is why Eaves was a key addition.

Without a doubt the Canes will miss Brindy but he has been overly relied on far too much for too long. During the offseason I posted several times that they needed somebody else to help out on the PK to limit his minutes. With him out now, others have to step up and I think they will. I genuinely think that too often some of the guys sat back and waited for the key vets and leaders to take over in a game and bail them out, guys like Brindy and Stillman.

It hasn't happened as some guys, often Cole and Staal, have sat back and waited for someone else to take over. Staal started to assert himself more at around the midpoint of the season and Cole needs to bring it every night too. It's a big loss to have Brindy out but going forward this creates an opportunity for others to spread their wings. The team needed to rediscover individual accountability and get back to full-tilt skating with everyone contributing. Life without Brindy and Stillman could bring out the best in guys or just expose the cracks further.

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IMHO.........

There is some truth to all the arguments given here......that said:

We all know the team veterans have been slack from time to time(save maybe wesley) and it's this current situation that gives us pause to reflect about what and who really can and will fill the roles we need right now. The utmost is to find leadership, on and off the ice. That would be Wesley....without question.

Second, we need to take into perspective the job the Rat Pack has performed on the ice this year. It isn't a secret that the young guys have added some much needed energy. Not so long ago in another thread we argued the merits of our captain. If you look closely at those games we have youth playing with Rod or Wes, they shine. Aucoin has made tremendous strides.....so has Ladd.....and Borer has been a sorely needed shot in the D. No team can exist in this league of parity without the infusion of new blood.....and that blood is on the ice tonight. Give some thought to that as you watch the interplay of vets and the kids.

Third, and here is the rub for the fan favorites......

It's time to get on with the business side of this game. Teams must have playoff revenue to survive. For this team, we need to trim the fat....and yes.....that means some favorites that just ain't done the job this OR last year. The 06 cup run is over.....let it go.....we need to make a run again this year and it isn't going to be the same players we had then. So now is the time to look for those that can make it happen.....the "go to guys". Look around at the apathy this year....it's time to deal away those that won't play 60 minutes every game for 82 games.

I say let the chips fall, find our own youth, and then buy the talent we need to make this happen NOW!!

OK......fire away

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Well, let's see what happens with Brind'Amour out of the lineup. BTW, the oldest guy on the team was accountable for the PP improvement Thursday. I guess Wesley hasn't forgotten how its done.

Look, hockey is a young man's game - and always has been. "Veteran" applies to those well before players in other sports, except maybe soccer.

I like what I see in the Rats that played vs Pittsburgh. I suspect the youth movement would benefit us more on defense than offense, since at least the young guys hit people.

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Please allow me a post script.......

A fourth point in our current situation will be how well the coaching staff responds to this adversity. As much as they can contribute to the game......we'll surely know how good they are under are in getting the job done when it really counts.

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Third, and here is the rub for the fan favorites......

It's time to get on with the business side of this game. Teams must have playoff revenue to survive. For this team, we need to trim the fat....and yes.....that means some favorites that just ain't done the job this OR last year. The 06 cup run is over.....let it go.....we need to make a run again this year and it isn't going to be the same players we had then. So now is the time to look for those that can make it happen.....the "go to guys". Look around at the apathy this year....it's time to deal away those that won't play 60 minutes every game for 82 games.

THAT'S what I'm talkin' 'bout!!!

IceFrog, I hear you on the respect factor, but at some point you have to have respect for the fans, and the kids who are working hard to make the team and make a difference. I just don't hold with the idea that, because Brindy or Stills or Cole or anybody else has a great resume, it entitles them to a spot on the roster when they're not playing up to their ability.

Even Whitney, who played absolutely great against the Pens, seems to turn his effort on and off like a lightswitch. His dad was in the stands Thursday, and quite honestly, I think that's who he was playing for. How 'bout the paying customers?

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Who are you inquiring hasn't produced over the past two seasons? Everyone I see is producing, maybe not soaring off the charts, but they are doing their jobs. The only player who has not been producing IMO is Kaberle, and in that matter, why scratch or waive him when you can trade them? We already did that with Borer, and it payed off, but the numbers game came and sent him back to Albany. It is ridiculous to tell a player who has been in the big leagues for years to sit down and let some kid with no experience play when all he has on you is drive. Motivation is a big part of the sport, as you can see in Jagr's performance this season, it is down due to lack of it. But I can't see who hasn't been producing. We came out in 2006 like nobody expected and a lot of our players had career seasons, you aren't always going to top the last season you played your best the next year.

You should be a Penguins fan if you have this type of mentality, benching or getting rid of all your veteran players for younger players with more drive in them. Every team should have a balance of the two. Everyone saw how far Pittsburgh went in the 2007 playoffs, winning just one game in the first round. Your veterans are the ones you rely on, your younger players are the ones you ride on.

Its true most people are producing decently, though most of them have gone down in their production. Though I would much rather start a younger player over an older player, when they are completely equal in skill, but the younger guy has more drive. If someone doesnt care enough whether they win or lose, than that is someone I dont want on the ice. Id rather see a guy giving 110% every night, sacrificing the body and doing all the little things then an older guy who is past his prime. Plus the younger guy will get valuable experience, so that maybe he can become useful in the next few years.

I'm not a Pens fan by a longshot, but them starting all the youngsters in the Playoffs last year is great experience that they can use this year. They will easily make the playoffs, probably at the #2 seed, and I would bet that they will get much farther this year than last, due to the fact that almost all of them have been there before.

Now I'm not saying we should bench all of our old guys, because some of them are still doing great (Wesley), but I would definitly like to see more from guys like Borer or Aucoin. If everyone was healthy then I probably wouldnt be saying this but since we are in desperate need of healthy guys why not give them more time?

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THAT'S what I'm talkin' 'bout!!!

IceFrog, I hear you on the respect factor, but at some point you have to have respect for the fans, and the kids who are working hard to make the team and make a difference. I just don't hold with the idea that, because Brindy or Stills or Cole or anybody else has a great resume, it entitles them to a spot on the roster when they're not playing up to their ability.

Even Whitney, who played absolutely great against the Pens, seems to turn his effort on and off like a lightswitch. His dad was in the stands Thursday, and quite honestly, I think that's who he was playing for. How 'bout the paying customers?

Do you really expect the kids that we call up to bring the same effort every night? Yes, it's possible that Whitney put all his effort into that game because his father was in the stands. By that same note, isn't it also possible that the kids are just putting all their effort into the game because their trying to earn a spot on the team?

Like I said earlier, yes, a change of personal is needed. However, it's not going to come from Albany. Our problem is much bigger than just calling up players from the minor league. We need a good, experienced, stay at home defenseman. Do we have one of those playing around in the AHL?

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TopShelf: ok, if you want to blow things up, why not start by calling out those you have an issue with - old or young? I doubt we all see it the same way. There are some that are young(er) who haven't busted it all year either.

Warning: I doubt we'll agree. Instead, this will lead to:

If only _______would do_____then (A favorite player) wouldn't _______.

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TopShelf: ok, if you want to blow things up, why not start by calling out those you have an issue with - old or young? I doubt we all see it the same way. There are some that are young(er) who haven't busted it all year either.

Warning: I doubt we'll agree. Instead, this will lead to:

If only _______would do_____then (A favorite player) wouldn't _______.

O.K., first, I'm not advocating blowing anything up. I AM saying it's not enough to have earned your spot on the roster two years ago. You need to go out and earn it every night.

Here's my list of guys that have consistently played below their ability this year:

Brindy (Yup, top of the list. As the Captain goes, so goes the team.)

Wallin

Cole

Letowski

Kaberle*

Hedican

Grahame

*has played below ability, but played way beyond his ability in 05-06.

To be fair, here's my honor roll:

Cullen

Walker

Wesley

Ward

Ladd

Gleason

Staal

LaRose

Both lists leave off currently injured players (excepting Brindy and LaRose since they just went down), new players, and AHLers. I'm looking at our core group. Others not named are neither stellar nor harming us; they're just "there."

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I'd replace Hedican with Walker.

Hedican's somehow managed to get a +13 rating on this team, which means he's got to be doing something right defensively.

Walker's been injured, yeah, but both he and Williams have played the same amount of games, and Williams has 13 more points than he does. Hamilton, of all people, has more points than Walker.

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