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"Quasi GM"
Moncton, NB • Canada • 37 Years Old • Male

The NHL meltdown

Posted 9:16 AM ET | Comments 1
People around the NHL world are, as predicted, crying foul over giving the next generational player to a team already with a glut of forward talent that isn't developing (certainly not beyond expectations, mostly below them). I think I saw this in the Simpsons once, when Homer got lodged in the water slide, so they tried to solve the problem by sending more kids in to try to dislodge him. They ultimately got stuck as well, if you don't remember the episode (or if you're, perhaps, too young to remember).

Now can we cry to the NHL to fix the lottery system? But that's like crying to remove a nuclear plant after a meltdown. The damage is done and the aftermath will be in the league for the next few years, especially if Edmonton win a championship. I wrote four years ago that the odds of winning the lottery should be greatly diminished for a team that's drafted in the top three, especially if they've drafted first overall. I wrote five years ago that they needed to lottery the top few teams, a system they're implementing perhaps a year too late (and the system their implementing is still full of holes). They didn't fix the system, now they're getting hosed by it like a horny teenager by his girlfriend's dad: what excitement could this have generated for the game vs. what excitement it actually did generate for the game.

https://sites.google.com/...the-draft-order-should-be <-- the systems I proposed. I even proposed another system on this blog.

There are about 8 or 9 teams McDavid could have gone to that would have been a win for the game, but it seems like they're trying to recreate the 80s Oilers team here. Cuz let's be honest for a second... I hated hockey in the 80s. No parity = no fun. Watching one team dominate a sport so that their fans can become interminably obnoxious is about as much fun as walking on broken glass.

The league wins through parity, the salary cap, through teams that build through successful team environments like Detroit (because you hate them out of respect, not disrespect), and through seeing different names on the Stanley Cup every year. (The Finals need to be fixed, since they're as anticlimactic as a trip to Stonehenge).

The league loses through free agency, through tanking (promotes a negative attitude) and bad drafting systems, and through players who tell their team who they want to be traded to; these three things destroy the parity the league is trying to implement. And most of all, the league loses through fan obnoxiousness. If the Oilers' fans were apologetic, it might start to heal things... but you know they're going to be obnoxious (O'Doyle rules!).

The league has dealt with a huge problem I call "the margins" for the last ten years, where teams stuck drafting between 4 and 14 every year don't get the "push" they need from the draft and are in an uphill battle concerning free agency because of it. They end up treading water until they happen upon an all star (five times less likely if you're drafting at six than if you're drafting at one). Edmonton has had three major pushes and now they've been Apollo'd. Their success, now, is basically inevitable. Maybe it'll make people love to hate them as they'll become like Montreal Canadiens fans who mutter platitudes in defense of their team.

The Oilers aren't going to be fixed by McDavid, but when you get a generational player on your team, you also get the generational player effect, which means that free agents want to sign for that team and at a discount. GMing in Edmonton, though it wasn't too difficult a job before with the glut of forward talent on that team, has just become that much easier. It's easy to imagine their fortunes will change. Their success will be the needle in the eye to anyone who believes in the NHL's current team development system, but they better start protecting their eyes now because it's almost guaranteed to happen. Let's just put it this way: it's the equivalent of "button mashing" to win. The Rangers and other big markets sort of have this effect... players just want to play for them. I don't know who the hell wants to play for the Rangers, but this is one of my life's riddles... like who the hell wants to listen to One Direction and Justin Bieber?

This year's draft has several platforms.
1 - A+++
2 - A++
3 - A+ (typical first overall)
4 - A+
5 - A-
6 - A-

Arizona deserved a top two because they sucked before trading their "good" players away. They're getting a good player, but now they're going to have to find a way to win like only New Jersey and Detroit did in the last 20 years... without a first or second overall pick in the draft.

We just saw Columbus go on a slaughtering spree near the end of the season... so that they can tread water in terms of the draft. Maybe a free agent can save them, though they have to spend 1M/y more on theirs than other teams do, it seems. It's like when you're a small market team, you have to pay a 15% free agent tax on all your signings to convince people that you'll be successful. The tax already disarms those chances, and makes the players more "mercenary" (passionless) than they probably should be.

The draft is supposed to push teams according to hard luck, but the NHL is having a hard time distinguishing between hard luck and poor management. Hard luck is losing your free agents for nothing, or having Rick Nash say he wants to play for the Rangers... poor management is twiddling your thumbs when your team is losing and repeating in the mic over and over "we believe in our coaching staff and our players", firing the coaching staff at year's end and saying the same thing next year.

Sitting on a glut of forward talent and being inactive for an entire season to have a chance to win a generational player was an evil-genius move by Lowe and MacT... and all the credit to them... they played the league like a banjo and are now cashing in. They might not make the playoffs next year... the year after, they'll make the first round, the next year they'll be elite. Just the way it goes.

Now it doesn't matter if the NHL fixes the system... didn't matter that much back then... the Penguins have their name on the Stanley Cup... it's permanently tarnished! Now we have to respond to fan obnoxiousness with fan obnoxiousness of our own, "The Cup was rusted with all the Patrick Roys on there anyway".
Filed Under:   meltdown   nhl   oilers   mcdavid   lottery  
April 20, 2015 3:46 PM ET | Delete
I only felt bad for Buffalo. They have been royally screwed by the league on more than one occasion. Arizona traded all their defensemen minus OEL at the deadline in an effort to tank. I have little sympathy for them.
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