Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trade Deadline Idiocy

I see a lot of irrational ideas when it comes to the Bruins and there is nothing like a poorly performing team married with the trade deadline to bring them to fever pitch. One particular theory keeps coming back again and again that really irks me. After having a fantastic season a team comes back the next year and plays poorly. The bizarre explanation by some is that the team never really was that good in the first place; they somehow "overachieved." The previous year was a fluke. In fact, the team has little or no talent. If you buy into this idea then the solution to the problem is to go out and get more talent.

A team can be more than the sum of its parts. A team can come together in such a way as to reach its full potential. This intangible unity is what makes a championship team. But it is nonsense that a team can somehow reach beyond their full potential, particularly for an extended period of time such as an entire season. Logically, your best is your best; there is nothing better. This idea of "overachieving" is a myth.

Yet I have seen and read again and again the view that the Bruins overachieved last season. In this view the entire season was a fluke. The "real" Bruins is the team we see now. The B's don't have enough talent, so the obvious solution is to bring on more talent at the trade deadline. Or at least it seems obvious to the people I see commenting, such as in this article by the Hockey Genius Eric Wilbur.

Yet on its face the argument makes no sense. The Bruins are essentially the same. Their skill level remains close to what it was last year, even without Kessel. What has happened is that they are no longer playing up to their potential. In a word, they are underachieving. Sure, getting the right guy into the locker room might inspire the rest of the team to get out of their funk, but that's a gamble at best. No, we usually blame someone else when a team consistently underachieves. I'll go ahead and come right out and say it: if the underachieving continues the rational solution is to replace the coaching staff, not the players.


Mark said...

Claude Julien's extension doesn't even start until next season, while the Bruins are still paying off Dave Lewis' contract. He's not getting fired. Unless you think it's financially-wise to pay for three head coaches at one time.

number4bobbyorr said...

Mark--is it financially wise to end up with a half-empty arena because the team can't score more than one goal per game?

At least it makes more sense than complaining the team doesn't have the talent. We know the team has the talent--they proved that last year. It's the intangibles that are hurting this team and the coach is ultimately in charge of them.

Mark said...

This team is different than last year. Kessel, Axelsson, Hnidy, Ward, Yelle etc. all gone. That being said, Julien has what he has to work with. He doesn't have the luxury of benching players this season because the lack of depth. Sure, he could call up some band-aids in the AHL to discipline players, but that's not the solution.

Deciding on whether to scratch (pre trade) Bitz, Sobotka or Bitz is a joke. That's the GM's fault. Hence, he dropped the ball badly in failing to acquire players for depth. He did not address this team's needs: defenseman for defenseman. For a team who's last in the NHL in scoring, acquiring a D for D makes no sense whatsoever.

And look at last season. Hunwick and Ference go down in the playoffs with injuries/medical reasons. Steve Montador logs almost 30 minutes in Game Seven. Lack of depth. Poor cap management. Inability to fix the problems. That's the front office for ya.

number4bobbyorr said...

Mark -- you say its "poor cap management." I say its just the realities of cap management. Would you have really given up Krejci, Ryder and Wheeler to keep Kessel? That's what it would have cost. Come on, he's just not that good. And its easy to say they should not have signed Thomas, yet Rask is unproved. Goaltending is everything.

No, I don't buy that the players you mention that are no longer on the team make the difference between 1 goal per game and 3. The problem is mental. While your point is well taken about using the depth to pressure the players, and injuries have played a big role in that too, ultimately it is the job of the coach to get it done one way or another.

Hey, I'm not saying they should fire Julien. But with everyone wailing about how they didn't land an impact forward I think the point should be made the the real problems lie elsewhere.

Mark said...

Well, you seem to be twisting my words. I said not having those aforementioned players of last year hurts their depth, not their lack of scoring.

Cap issues. yes. When you pay $4MM per to extend Lucic, that's bad management. Ryder is a bad contract. Sturm's is just as bad with that NTC in it -- like Thomas'.

I never ever said anything about keeping Kessel. In fact, again, read some of my past articles and you'll see how much I liked that trade.

"if the underachieving continues the rational solution is to replace the coaching staff, not the players."

Sounds like you're looking for a change, no?

number4bobbyorr said...

Mark -- to tell you the truth I think you are twisting your own words. I just have what you say here to go on. I said the team has plenty of talent and you responded with the line about how much the team had changed. I have a logical mind, sorry. Oh, and by the way, I have not read everything you have ever written on the subject.

Looch is the biggest star the team has. He fills the seats. To claim he is overpaid is indefensible. That's Boston Herald comment level stuff... (ahem) The Thomas contract is a very good one compared to others of similar caliber, unless you are one of those Thomas haters. If you have read any of my blog then you will know how I feel about that...

As for Julien, I believe I have made my position clear enough. Did you hear Cherry go off tonight? "If he can't get them to hit..." (speaking of Julien) The team needs to play harder, more consistently, and finish. None of that has anything to do with talent. It has everything to do with attitude and motivation, and that, my friend, is the coaches department.

Mark said...

Nice chatting. Take care.