Friday, May 27, 2011

Going To The Well One Time Too Many

And just like that there were no more New York Ranger prospects left playing after the Kootenay Ice took out Scott Stajcer and his Owen Sound Attack 7-3 in the tiebreaker game of the Memorial Cup.

The big question going into the game was who would Owen Sound start in goal out of their 3 headed goalie system? We kind of guessed that Owen Sound Coach Mark Reeds would go with Scott Stajcer which he did and sadly it backfired.

Reeds did as he has all through the OHL playoffs which was roll the dice on which goalie to go with. As it always happens eventually the dice as well as the odds catch up to you.

Funny how it appears the one bad roll that Reeds threw is what people are going to remember more that the run that the Owen Sound Attack had. How many coaches would have had the courage to use a 3 goalie rotation in the playoffs like Reeds did?

Got to feel for Scott Stajcer and his coach who sadly are going to be second guessed on this move to death. Sorry it was a gut feeling call for a coach who was going in to play a back to back game minus his 2 best players.

As far as we are concerned it was the right call for Reeds to make given the circumstances and it is in no way shape or form a slight to Jordan Binnington at all. If anything despite losing 7-3 we salute the Owen Sound Attack for everything we learned from them.

Instead of rehashing what wrong to the Attack we choose to celebrate what was right about them. How a team and a small city could teach us that it is not the size of the market but rather the bond formed by fans and team.

If you build a rapport with your fans, if you give your fans a product worth spending money on and if you give them a reason to have hope then they will show up and support them.

There was nothing cooler than to watch the YouTube clip of the reception that the Attack got when they returned back to Owen Sound after upsetting Mississauga in Game 7 of the OHL finals. As we watch the NHL with failures in Phoenix, Atlanta and even Florida; it is clear that market size is grossly overused as an excuse for why teams can not compete.

It is also a message to those players, families and their agents who are playing bogus games trying to influence the bantam drafts in the 3 junior leagues. "Oh I think I will attend a US college if I get drafted by (insert team name)"

If an Owen Sound (21,00) and a Kootenay (19,000) can both make the Memorial Cup then anyone team regardless of size can if they are run right.

Yes it is a disappointing end to the season for the Attack but they still get to call themselves the OHL Champions when all is said and done. Nobody likes to end their season with a loss but 3 teams in the Memorial Cup are going to do exactly that.

Still give us a team that rallied to overcome every obstacle placed in their path like Owen Sound did any day. Lose your starting goalie in November and still win the conference is not a bad feat.

But losing 2 key players to concussions is going to really bother us as yes hockey is a physical sport but it needs to clean itself up once and for all. Concussions were the subject at every level of the game and if you can win by taking out the other guys best player then you do not deserve to be called champion.

Sour grapes sure go ahead if you wish but the fact remains that you can play hard without causing an injury to someone. Going to renew our call for suspensions to dirty hits to be handled as the player who caused said injury is out until the injured player is able to return to play THEN the suspension starts.

It is wrong when Owen Sound lost Joey Hishon for the rest of their time in the Cup while Brayden McNabb only missed 1 game for Kootenay. Really seeing people say that well losing 1 game is like missing 25% of the Memorial Cup games is forgetting that Hishon missed 75% of Owen Sound's games.

So while Kootenay moves on to face Mississauga in the semifinal it is going to be interesting to see how the Ice will handle what will be their third game in four nights. Just as Owen Sound was out of gas; it is hard to think that Ice are not also getting tired.

Put an arena in which is easy for fans to get to, make your games entertaining as well as affordable but most of all give your community a reason why you deserve their support. No offense to the fans of those 3 NHL cities but what exactly has your management done to earn your loyalty?


Neate Sager of Buzzing the Net once again shows why spending time reading Buzzing The Net is time worth spending.  First up is a feature on looking for ways to improving the quality of officiating at the junior level.

But for us it was his other piece that really is the one that needs to be talked about as the title says it all: "Again, if concussions are a concern, why is fighting allowed?" Great question to ask and maybe it is time for a serious conversation about both subjects.

Honestly any real change to the sport has to come from the NHL as they are the role models for the 15-20 years who pattern their games after. How do you tell a kid that something is wrong when he can turn on the TV and see his heroes doing the same play but getting applauded for it?

Sure go ahead and say I am getting soft in my old age but I now live with 7 screws in my neck along with limited motion trying to look over my shoulder. I have short term memory loss and a numbness in my right index finger.

If you like you can try it on yourself and see if you do not change some of your own thinking.


OK yesterday when writing about the Rangers scouting and development folks I said this: 

The Rangers almost never talk about their scouting staff which is a huge shame in my opinion as there is some of the best scouts in hockey working for them. Wonder why the Ranger's prospect talent level has gotten better in the last few years?

If you got the idea that I was thinking the Rangers are doing something wrong for not talking about their scouts then I am sorry you got that impression. The intention was in fact the total opposite as the Rangers have a right to show off a staff of some of the most experienced talent evaluators out there.

The other reason is because it is 2011 and people still want to talk about Hugh Jessiman's selection in 2003. OK yes it was a bad pick and everyone gets it so why are people still grasping on to a pick that was made by staff who really no longer work for the Rangers?

A lot has changed since 2003 so why are today's staff paying for the sins of the past? It is Gordie Clark and Jim Schoenfeld advising Glen Sather on who to pick.

Oh wait it is Glen Sather right? He is still here so automatically the pick is going to be bad. I am the last person you can call a Sather apologist but I have attended enough drafts and have watched the Ranger draft table to know that Sather acts on the advise of Clark, Schoenfeld and the rest of the staff.

You want to blame Sather for the UFA contracts then by all means no arguments here. But when it comes to scouting, drafting and developing then give him some credit for getting some very good people.

It seems that some people just can not let go of the past and they think that choices made 8 years ago will still be made today. Sorry but as someone who has been doing this for as long as I have I know what my own eyes have seen.

A real scouting staff, a real training staff, a real program and a real practice facility to help develop the prospects. But it seems every May when talk turns to the upcoming draft there are some people who do the "sky is falling" which means the Rangers are going to draft another Jessiman.

Sorry it is old, it does not apply to today's staff which was why I was hoping the Rangers would show off their scouting staff.  If you thought otherwise then I am sorry that was not the intent.

(Stajcer courtesy of Aaron Bell-OHL Images)


Anonymous said...

I think people still harp on the '03 draft just because of the talent level we passed up that year to pick a question mark at best.

and as good as some of our newer picks might turn out to be, can we be confident that any of them are going to be as good as parise, getzlaf, kesler, brown, richards or perry.

so yes it was one draft, but probably one of the better 1st rounds in league history. that was our year to draft a bonafide 1st line offensive player and sather and maloney choked big time. our system is still recovering from that draft.

as great as bringing Clark on board was, i'd argue it was just as big a development for the Rangers that Maloney left the organization

Jess Rubenstein said...

To be honest I totally agree with you on the Maloney leaving the NYR remark.

He was a Dolan hire not a Neil Smith or Glen Sather.

And I do agree with you on the 03 draft being so good but there has to be a time when you have to let it go and move on.

To me the NHL lockout was a godsend for the Rangers as they were able to restructure the entire front office.

I am no fan of Sather's doubt I ever will be but I will give him the credit for bringing in Schoenfeld, Renney and Clark.

And I also have to give him credit for turning the Ranger scouting team into a 100% professional group.

Now as for your question as to how the newer picks will be; I have to say the picks will be as good as they are allowed to develop.

There is very much some top level talent in Kreider and Thomas but more importantly specific needs have been addressed like a McIlrath who be a huge body with a heavy shot on the blueline.

A player like a Hagelin will be a shutdown forward with some offense.

Horak and Lindberg as faceoff/playmakers and more.

Anonymous said...

well let's hope you are right about the prospects. i still think kreider has a lot of work in front of him, looked kinda lost in the world juniors, but a little better in the world championships from what i saw. maybe if he is the go to guy on bc this year he can step it up, as I know that wasn't his role this year even before he got hurt. seems the bc offense is usually built around smaller forwards like atkinson

i am cautiously optimistic about McIlrath but I kinda think it was a reach to draft that kind of defenseman so high in the first round. it'd be great if he develops into a beukeboom type, but not sure i would have drafted beukeboom in the first round. you saw him play a lot this year, so you would be a better judge, but if del zotto doesn't rebound passing on fowler will be tough to swallow.

i am excited for thomas, does he definitely need another year in juniors?

Jess Rubenstein said...

Kreider needs honestly to become more selfish on offense. He has a ton of talent that most of the time I do not think he realizes how good he can be.

The BC offense was more built about their upper classmen which is dumb in today's world. What drove me nuts with Kreider was his not shooting the puck.

His best games came when he had 5 or more shots, if he had less than that then odds were he did not score.

I like McIlrath as I saw him grow up a lot this past season. He still needs to learn the lessons as to when to fight and when to walk away but that comes with maturity.

A lot of people have been working with McIlrath during the season, good people who will greatly expand his skill set.

Beukeboom was a 1st round pick by the Oilers but I think McIlrath has more offensive upside than he does.

Thomas if he can bulk up his body has a legit shot at making the team but I do not know if he can add the needed muscle in time

Leatherneck said...

This years draft we should select Tyler Biggs, when I picture this line, Krieder and Biggs centered by Stepan I just potential with Biggs doing the nasty down low Krieder Sniping and Stepan dishing out the biscuit...I would like to see a trade with the Av's acquiring their 11th overall pick and with this pick selecting Mark McNeill and with our 15th selecting Biggs...of the two who would you rather have and with our selection who would you draft saying if Schifile, McNeill, Amira, Saad and Biggs were still available? Biggs would be mine

Anonymous said...

cool thanks