Monday, March 04, 2013


 On Mike Brown.

 Here's the deal with Mike Brown. There are three teams I follow to some degree. The Oilers of course. The Hawks, my old favourite team, partially because of that fact, partially because seeing as the Oilers are pulling the crash and burn model I find it interesting to follow a club that went through same.

 Of course the Hawks were shit for over fifteen years before they got good again so maybe we'll be good when Hall et al are scattered about the league in a decade. Or maybe it will happen sooner. Or maybe we're the Islanders in which case drink.

 As an aside the Hawks have it right for this cap system. Basically its what the Wings did and what the Penguins are doing. Figure out your core, pay them, fill in the pieces around them as best you can. The plus for Chicago is that Toews, Kane, Keith and Seabrook are all relatively young (or just plain young) and Sharp and Hossa can still play. Meanwhile the latest cohort of kids - Saad, Shaw, Bickell, Kruger, Leddy - cost nothing and are an excellent supporting cast along with Oduya, Hjalmarsson, Stalberg, Bolland and Frolik.

 Look at that roster. Man do the Oilers have a long way to go. The Hawks may, like those sixties clubs, only win one Cup but they'll be in the mix for a while.

 Oh as an aside Hjalmasson, Oduya, Stalberg, Kruger and Shaw were all picked in the fourth round or later.


 The third team I see quite a bit of is the Toronto Maple Leafs because I live in Toronto and they are on the teevee quite a bit here. So I've seen a lot of Mike Brown. Actually I was sitting about thirty feet away from him when he hit Ryan Nugent Hopkins last year, I believe the first time (or maybe the second) that Ted's shoulder became an issue.

 Brown hits. He's tough. Really tough. He's not a big guy but he will take anybody on. He's popular with his teammates, fans and the media. His moustache has at least one ecosystem in it, an entire food web (that's what its called these days) including small predators in there. So that's pretty fucking cool.

 He can skate.

 He's not a very good hockey player. He has been a borderline player on a team that has been pretty shitty for a while now, though better than the Oilers. Tambo talks about his PK ability but the Leafs PK has been horrible for years (although to be fair goaltending has a lot to do with that I think).

 He adds toughness and grit and all of that good stuff but unlike Bill Guerin or Raffi Torres or Mike Grier or Ethan Moreau he doesn't do that as a top nine guy and so basically he's, well, he's Darcy Hordichuk. He's an upgrade on Hordichuk, to be fair, but I have my doubts that he is a better player than Lennart Petrell or Ben Eager and like those guys he's not going to be able to slide up the lineup here and there.

 He is what he is. An energy guy. A fourth liner. I guess Petrell takes the gaspipe unless Krueger decides to move Eager up the lineup which is pretty hilarious because, you know, he's shitty.

 I can't get too worked up about this except guys like Brown are a dime a dozen and are available on waivers every day. Sestito. Volpatti. Etc etc.

 And the Oilers gave up a fourth round pick for him, a third if they make the playoffs (!!!!!!). Just as they gave up a third for a guy who, while I like, can barely crack an abysmal bottom pairing D.

 Does a fourth rounder have a lot of value? No, although the Hawks, recent champions and best team in the league right now, certainly has made some hay from that round and lower. Other fourth and lower round picks employed by Chicago when they last won the Cup - Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Troy Brouwer.

 Fourth rounders of note in Oiler history - Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Esa Tikkanen, Shawn Horcoff.

 Hey I know you are going to say 'Hey man the majority of fourth rounders don't turn out to be quality NHLers, you're cherry picking. How about all of the guys who didn't make it?'

 You'd be right but here's the thing with Lowe, Tambo and the Oilers. Remember these are the guys who finished dead last spending to the cap. Because that's kind of key.

 These guys don't know what they're doing. They don't evaluate talent very well. They almost never make the right bets. And they have no understanding that guys like Fistric and Brown are a dime a dozen and can be acquired for nothing. Not nearly nothing, like a sixth or seventh, not possibly nothing, like a fifth or a fourth. But actual nothingness.

 And if the whole idea is to get better and a third or a fourth is more than nothing and they are, then you most likely should be trying to keep the higher card.



 And the biggest worry, as Dennis King noted today on the Tweeter, is that if they can't get the small stuff right then how the hell will they get the big stuff right?


@eastcoasteh said...

Gotta disagree with you here. I like the pickup for all the reasons you listed. A guy like Eager and Petrell, while better overall hockey players, do not bring what is required of a 4th line player, namely consistent energy and physicality. We want someone to go out and do something and ramp up the intensity and drag some of these guys kicking and screaming into a hockey game. Given the comments coming out of ex-teammates of Brown's, I like it even more. I know you are a fan of Tyler Dellow and all the stats guys, but I believe in hockey there is probably more room for the "intagibles" factor than any other team sport. So yeah, Brown won't bring much offence, but hopefully some energy to ramp up the intensity level of the guys on the bench watching. Not through staged fights and stupid shit like that, but through running guys through the boards and going to the net. A bit of meanness goes a long way.
As for giving up an asset for one they probably could have got on waivers, this is probably true, but I suspect they put in a claim on Volpatti and this was the next best thing. A pick isen't that big of deal, especially in 2 years time.
Clearly this isn't THE move, but A move towards shaking up this team a bit. We all know the big need is a big bodied forward who can play, but guys like that don't become available every day.
People need to chill and remember we are 4 points out of the playoffs, with half a season to go with a team that is expected to be a fringe playoff team.

Black Dog said...

eastcoasteh - well first of all while I am actually friends with Ty as well as some of the other stats guys I'm not married to them ;) I think, like Ty does by the way, that stats have a place and that this needs to be combined with what you see when you watch the game

And the stats guys certainly do just that. They're keen observers.

Anyhow I agree with you. I play hockey and, for my level, play it pretty well. I've had a good year in terms of scoring but there have been other years (and for that matter games this year) where my contribution had been in things that can't necessarily be measured. Covering the point when the Dman rushes or pinches. Clearing the zone. Winning puck battles. Working hard. Encouraging guys. All of these things contribute to use doing well.

So I know what you're saying. I've never played pro obviously but those who play for the most part say there is value in a guy like Brown. I have a hard time believing that but again I've not played at that level.

I don't mind Brown as long as he doesn't take a better player's spot. If Eager ends up bumping Paajarvi or Teemu out of the lineup then I'll have a problem but my guess is he, Eager and Petrell rotate and if he can PK effectively then I am ok with that.

I do disagree with you on the point of the pick though. Again, guys like this are readily available. Same as guys like Fistric. Its just a fourth (or if they make the playoffs, a third) but you should not have to give up a fourth for Mike Brown.

As for the club overall I'm pretty relaxed. imo playoffs were a possibility this year, albeit a slight longshot. They're still in the mix and with Horcoff out, Hall in and out, RNH and Schultz youngest hurt and a lot of bad shooting luck I think they still do have a shot.

If they make it great, if they don't I guess Tambo gets canned so either way WE WIN! ;)

where are you out east? Wife is from PEI, I lived there for a year and saw most of the Maritimes. Love it, we get out every year.

Showerhead said...

I've disliked management for the longest time but this is the moment at which I actually call for their head. If the trade deadline comes and goes and mgmt's big answer to the fact that no one on a skill line can recover the puck is to add guys who can't for the life of them play on a skill line... It's beyond what I can bear.

Why is such a talented team not scoring goals, generating zone time, or even taking shots? It's pretty fucking obvious and no one among MGMT or its mouthpiece MSM has a word to say on it: when they give up the puck, only one player in the top 9 can get it back. It has nothing to do with coke machines and giving 110% and having the glow of fucking Hades in your eyes. It has everything to do with puck recovery. Is that too boring to write about? I don't know but here goes:

Hockey is about options. If a d-man has to respect you might pass then you'll have more room to shoot. If a goalie has to respect you might shoot after decking left then you'll have more room when you pull it back right.

If you can't recover the puck by dump and chase then you will only ever try to walk it over the blue line. If the defense doesn't have to respect your ability to win it off the boards then you are out of fucking options and that's Edmonton every time they try to gain the zone. Every fucking time.

This is why you have 83 and 89 and 14 and 93 and even 20 trying to dangle into the zone every rush. Aside from Taylor Hall, none of them have a hope of getting the puck back if they give it up so they are left to go for the low percentage dangle into a defense that knows it's coming and doesn't have to begin to respect a chip and chase situation.

So yeah, go and get Mike fucking Brown. Hit people. Soften them up so they're afraid to play defense in open ice at the fucking blue line against forwards who only have one fucking option. What a joke.

Or, you know, maybe get some players who can survive on a skill line but who can actually win the puck back while playing hockey. I heard that you need it to win games and everything. But that's just me.

Black Dog said...

hey pal watch the language ;)

but yes you are exactly right

Halfwise said...

This team is like a grocery store. There's a skills section in Aisle 1, a grit section over in Aisle 4, and half a dozen non puck-moving d-men in Aisles 5 and 6.

The better teams in the league are where a person would go to be served a good meal, rather than some boxes and cans of ingredients.

I want to believe, especially in RK and MacT, but it's hard these days.

shepso said...

Puck possession and zone exits are killing this team (again, still, I don't even know anymore). I have to agree with showerhead here on most of his points (including the colourful language I know you to not shy away from that often, Pat). It's gone from sad, to disappointing, to frustrating (to ignored while I was in the middle east last year) to rage mixed with indifference. This trade isn't going to kill the team, but as many all over the sphere have said, if Harski or MP get sent down and they keep running with 8 D-men, whats the point?

Anonymous said...

@Pat: just remebered when i saw Browns great first shift thay i forgot to reply! Haha
Yeah maritimer here, from Fredericton (u musta tried Picaroons eh). Love PEI in the summertime, great spot to visit.
You do bring up a good point re:injuries. Horcoff is a big loss despite what many fans think, and every one of our ahl stars are banged up. That and our D aint great makes er no surprise we are where we are.

Black Dog said...

Halfwise - exactly, good teams are good because they have a lot of good players, not because the GM said 'ok now I'm going to add a pinch of grit'

Shepso - moving a 4th is dumb but Brown neither helps nor hurts much as long as hey don't send a kid out, do that and yeah they're dumb

Black Dog said...

eastcoasteh - oh yeah I spent some time in Fredericton when I lived out east, always for work though:( Nice town.

Yeah losing Horcoff hurts a lot and basically they are not good enough yet. It should be ok longterm. I hope.