Thoughts on Thoughts: The "Under-23 team" idea gets worse, RNH's value and more

Thoughts on Thoughts” is a feature that looks at Elliotte Friedman’s terrific weekly post, “30 Thoughts.” Justin Bourne selects his 5 favourite tidbits, and elaborates.


Friedman’s column, February 17th: Fedorov could be future NHL GM

1. Hockey Canada and USA Hockey will meet this week to discuss parameters for the Under-23 Team at the 2016 World Cup. Part of the conversation: does there need to be any kind of “quota” to ensure a fair representation from both countries?

The idea’s been raised, but should it simply be a “survival of the fittest,” best players selected no matter what the ratio?

This concept is just garbage. Of course it should be survival of the fittest. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here.

There’s a discussion about quotas? So we’re creating a “best of” team without the best of any particular group? At least if it’s organic - the best players who fit the "under-23" parameters - Canadians and Americans can hope their guys rule the roster. If that makes it tough for one side or the other (OK, the US), well, tough beans, the idea was stupid to begin with.

Is this even a fair situation for these kids, to parade them out there against true best-of teams? Do you remember how good that Canadian Olympic team was in 2014? We’re gonna pit them against a group of kids under 23 that may include players who aren’t even the best at that age, but are on the team because they had to hit a quota? Good luck on D, Connor Murphy.

I mean … *table flip*

4. The clock is ticking on Calgary forward Curtis Glencross. For the season, he is fourth among Flames’ forwards at 16:52 per game, but that changed once he returned from injury last week. His highest total since is 15:42, but three games were below 14 minutes.

Glencross has no-trade protection, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Boston, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay (possibly) and Winnipeg from sniffing around at various points this season. No one is talking, but it doesn’t seem like contract talks are gaining traction. It is believed Glencross prefers Anaheim, but it would surprise no one if he works with the Flames to widen that list.

In Friedman’s sixth thought, he mentions a comment made by Habs general manager Marc Bergevin about Lars Eller:

“I have a saying. There are players who get you in and players who get you through. Lars gets you through. When the chips are down, and the games are big, Lars is at his best.”

I think that’s a wonderful quote, and totally agree with the sentiment.

I bring this up because I’m not sure what Glencross is when it comes to actually winning. I’m not sure he knows either. He started in the NHL in 2006, nine years ago, and has just six playoff games under his belt (no goals, three assists). That’s not necessarily his fault, he’s just an unknown quantity at this point.

Personally, I’m not sold that he’d be particularly helpful on a contender. I played with him in college, and here’s what I know of his game: if the puck is near him, he can shoot the thing like the bejeezus and score. But he rarely creates on his own, which means he relies on circumstances - that being, the puck finding him somewhere in a shooting area - to get his goals. When things tighten up in the playoffs, I doubt that’s going to work all that well, barring some extraordinary luck.

He can bang bodies (usually with a curious disregard for where the puck is, or is going), and he can score - I’m just not sure he’s going to help any hungry team get through, let alone get there.

11. Minnesota’s Chuck Fletcher indicated last weekend he will wait until the end of the season to discuss a contract with Devan Dubnyk.

“We’re just going to let him play right now,” the Wild’s GM said. “No need to worry about anything else.”

Dubnyk’s been excellent, and the team is now running around less in their own zone than they were earlier in the year.

I know players and teams can’t always reveal their true motives, but I love the excuses they give for not signing contracts in-season.

“Don’t want the distraction” is the go-to from players, and it’s pretty hilarious. You talk with your agent about what you’d sign for one day, then he calls you somewhere down the road and says, “Yes, no, or ‘would you take this?’” Then you sign your name, or don’t. (I'm minimizing it all a bit, but you get the idea.)

“I don’t want the in-season distraction” is generally code for “I want to go somewhere else” or “I want to start a bidding war and see what I can get.” You know Mike Babcock wants to at least hear what everyone will throw at him this summer, but he can’t quite say that.

That Fletcher quote is basically “we want to see if there’s someone better available this summer” - but I do like how he’s played it. Just tryin’ ta help the kid out, ya see.

17. I was talking to a GM this week who said he believes if Edmonton gets one of the centres at the top of the draft, the likelihood is even less that the Oilers trade either Jordan Eberle or Taylor Hall. (I’m under the impression Ryan Nugent-Hopkins isn’t going anywhere no matter the circumstances.)

Anything can happen, so you never know, but apparently, the team doesn’t see the value of moving good, developing players instead of trying to add others around them. When I asked what happens if they got a lower pick, he replied that he thought it was still unlikely, because the Oilers feel they don’t have the depth to make such a trade without creating more holes.

I like that they’ve made Ryan Nugent-Hopkins an untouchable of sorts.

Again: “There are players who get you in and players who get you through.

I absolutely believe Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a get-you-through guy. To me, he fits the mold - or at least will - of the centers who’ve led their teams to Stanley Cups in recent years: smart, responsible, two-way, offensive flair, extremely competitive.

Since the lockout, here’s the number one center on every Cup-winning team:

  • Eric Staal
  • Ryan Getzlaf
  • Henrik Zetterberg
  • Sidney Crosby
  • Jonathan Toews
  • Patrice Bergeron
  • Anze Kopitar
  • Jonathan Toews
  • Anze Kopitar

Taylor Hall is an amazing talent, and it would be foolish to get rid of him. Eberle’s a pretty good player too. But to me, if the Oilers truly become a Cup contender at some point, it will be on the back of RNH.

26. I also liked Nill’s attitude with regard to Tyler Seguin’s injury. I began to tell him how unfortunate it was, but he cut me off and said, “It gives someone else a chance to step up.”

Just like some of Vancouver’s more unheralded/unknown defencemen against Minnesota, you’ve got to make a name for yourself in these moments.

This is what’s known as coaching through the media.

Players go home and talk about their job the same way you do when you go out with co-workers. While nobody is going to go out on the rink and give less effort when their team loses their best player, you can ensure that behind closed doors they’re saying, “We’re screwed.”

That defeatist attitude can lead to defeatist behaviors, so it’s important in those times to give your team that shove, that voice of confidence that reminds them, “You’re all pretty darn good players.” At the same time, it points out that they’re going to get more opportunities, which are basically Snausages to a dog.

It’ll likely end up being worth next to nothing, but at the very least, you have to appreciate the effort.

Thoughts on Thoughts: The "Under-23 team" idea gets worse, RNH's value and more
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