Thoughts on Thoughts: Toews a born winner, Ho-Sang, player discipline, and more

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Thoughts on Thoughts is a feature that looks at Elliotte Friedman's terrific weekly post, "30 Thoughts." Justin Bourne selects his five favorite tidbits, and elaborates.

Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts: The challenge NHLers face in retirement


1. One final note from Carcillo and Myhres - just how worried are they about what active players are doing away from the rink? Carcillo: "Guys are so focused on hockey they don't give a (bleep) about the other stuff. You read about the '80s and '90s, post-practice lunch turning into dinner … there's none of that, zero. There are players who won't go to a concert if there is a game two days later. I tell them you can still enjoy life, there are amazing cities like Chicago with a lot to offer. But a lot of guys are solely committed to being an athlete, they don't tap into that any more. In some ways it's sad to see, but they are so focused, determined to be in shape, to make it now. They are more healthy and more in tune with their bodies."

What Daniel Carcillo is saying there is absolutely bang-on … at the top levels. It's amazing how many tools you need to actually make the NHL. Like, there are guys in the ECHL (and probably lower) who have NHL caliber shots - but maybe they don't skate well. There are guys in the ECHL who skate like NHLers … but they can't think the game. And, there are players with all the tools who just aren't committed enough to put in the work to be all they could be.

When I played in the Coast and got called up to the AHL, I was straight up shook by the different level of demonstrated commitment. At the lower level, we did have long lunches after practice, and we did go eat cheap garbage - because long lunches are fun and cheap garbage tastes great.

In the American League, if you didn't work out after practice, people talked about you behind your back - if not straight to your face - for not being committed enough.

The NHL is a completely different ball game - guys are older, they play 82 games, and more are married with kids, so it's not just a bunch of prospects desperately pumping iron. But the commitment guys show in their own ways (rest, stretching, cold tubs, "stim" therapy, massage, nutrition, hydration, etc.) to get there and stay there borders on obsessive.

5. In a lot of ways, Ho-Sang is like any other person leaving college for the workforce. No matter your past, you have a chance to change previous perceptions if you desire. Kelly Hrudey would say that moments like these are when an agent is important, because a good one can get the team's message across to you in an effective manner. Ho-Sang's rep, Ian Pulver, wouldn't comment, but he's a big believer in his client. At some point, though, it doesn't matter what anyone else says. It's what you do.

I'm uninformed here, so take these (fairly rational, reasonably contained) musings with a grain of salt: I'm a little worried about Josh Ho-Sang, only because I can't make sense of his dismissal from Isles camp.

Well, I can, I think, but I don't like where it leads me.

For one, the night before practice at an NHL training camp, I have to believe you're going to bed early. So, OK: he slept, what, 12 hours without waking up? (Maybe he did. Which would be fairly impressive, actually.)

The night before NHL practice, he didn't set an alarm or order a wake-up call? (Maybe he's just forgetful? A lot of us are forgetful.)

The morning of NHL practice, his roommate went "above and beyond" to wake him up, couldn't, and it was eventually team officials who woke Ho-Sang up while his teammates were already on the ice. (Maybe he's a crazy heavy sleeper? I dunno, getting desperate here.)

Isn't it weird to get sent home from your second NHL training camp as a first-round pick for one infraction? Does that imply there were others? (Maybe they're just drawing a hard line with him to show they're serious?)

If you really want to stretch it, there are things that could've happened that explain his absence. I guess. But the aftermath (being forced to run stairs, then getting sent home) and the quotes (both John Tavares and Garth Snow made extremely annoyed comments) can pretty plainly lead us to an answer. Had they shown some sympathy or offered softer responses, I'd be less confident about what happened.

The night before the first day of 2015-16 Islanders camp, he was up to something that led to him missing practice.

He might wanna read what Carcillo said above, and what I added.

11. Johnson said Roy told him his partner will be Francois Beauchemin. The two will debut together on Thursday. As for style, "The biggest thing (Roy) is saying is, 'I want us to be playing fast. Not just skating fast, but thinking fast.' He wants activating d-men…we can never get up into the play fast enough." Biggest thing for Colorado, though is "we got every team's best game last season" after making the playoffs in 2013-14. "We have to show we're for real; prove it again."

That second-to-last line gave me a small, but noticeable, twitch. "We got every team's best game last season" as some sort of excuse is pretty gross. You know who gets every team's best game? The Chicago Blackhawks, the St. Louis Blues, the Anaheim Ducks, and all the other good teams in your division and beyond. I'm a little skeptical that a team fresh off a first-round loss raised the level of their opponents beyond what other teams saw.

Not to belabor the point - OK, to belabor it a bit - but, in 2014-15, the Avs were 12th of 14 teams in the West by Christmas. Hell, they were there by mid-November. Were they still getting every team's best game? I mean, I'm focusing on an unimportant, flippant comment, just wondering - why even bother with the throwaway line?

"We'd have been a lot better had our opponents not tried so hard." Got it.

15. Dallas signed John Klingberg, who's played even fewer games (65), to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract after his strong rookie season. How comparable is Klefbom? "From the opposing blueline in, Klingberg is a terrific player," Thompson said. "Oscar doesn't have that. But, when he first came to North America, (Klefbom) shot with his head down, watching the play through his peripheral vision. So, we worked with him to keep his head up while shooting to improve his ability to walk the blueline and read the play. Look at him now…he does it. Very coachable."

There are probably more flat-out whiffs on shots in the NHL than in the lower professional leagues - only because the guys farther down the rungs tend to look up, see their spot, then look down, shoot, and hope the spot is still there. When you shoot with your head up, you have to have the type of feel that only comes with being on the ice every damn day and practicing, practicing, practicing.

It's amazing, though, once you figure out how to do it consistently - like a little life hack. Sometimes, you start to pull the trigger and see the goalie close off your spot, and stopping your shot ends up being the best fake you never planned. And it's nice to avoid the awkward rec-league moment where the goalie somehow bails after you look back down, and, like an idiot, you shoot it into the fallen pile of man.

Looking up while you shoot: kind of a necessity for today's NHLer.

19. Asked Tortorella if there were any particular players he wanted to coach, and he wouldn't discuss potential candidates. But he came up with a very interesting answer. "I don't know him at all, I've never had reason to sit down with him, but I'd like to get into a room and talk with Jonathan Toews. To me, he's the best player in the world. He's not the best skater, not the most skilled. But he's got an incredible intangible. He knows how to win, and that's what we're supposed to do. It's interesting to me." Pause. "It's too bad he's a (bleeping) Canadian," he laughed.

It's a shame the word "intangible" has become something of a punchline in the online hockey community. Toews does know how to win, and it's sort of tough to explain what he does differently than others along the way. Being surrounded by great players obviously helps, but it's amazing how much greater he makes those guys look by simply out-thinking opponents. Pressure hits Toews like spinach hits Popeye.

In college, I'd have ranked Toews on the thrill scale somewhere behind his teammates T.J. Oshie, Brandon Bochenski, Zach Parise, Ryan Duncan … maybe Travis Zajac, maybe Drew Stafford? He was rarely the guy pulling fans out of their seats.

He was noticeably talented, and obviously very young, but he just constantly did the right thing, got his points, and was on when it mattered. Simply put, the guy just seemed like he knew how to win. Not much more I can offer but a shrug on that.

Thoughts on Thoughts: Toews a born winner, Ho-Sang, player discipline, and more
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