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The Puck Stops Here

Worst Regular Player So Far This Season

One thing I try to figure out as I follow an NHL season is which player, who is earning a regular shift, has been the worst player so far this season.  In the early parts of this season it has been a goalie; most recently Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets has this dishoner.  He has had over a month to improve his case.  He suffered a head injury in practise and went almost a month between starts.  Curtis Sanford took over in goal for the Blue Jackets and did a pretty solid job.  Eventually Mason would return.  He played a strong game winning against Vancouver on Monday night.  I think he has played well enough to remove himself from worst player in the league status, though he has not been having a strong season.

My current pick for worst regular so far this season is a depth player who regularly dresses and has not done anything positive in his playing time.  By season’s end, this is usually the kind of player who is the worst regular in the season.  My current pick is Chris Thorburn of the Winnipeg Jets.

Thorburn has played in all 30 Jets games so far.  He averages slightly over ten minutes of fourth line time.  He has produced no goals and one assist in that time.  He has a -10 +/- rating to show for that time.  The most memorable thing Thorburn has done this season is get into a couple of fights.

Over his career he has been more than the goon his numbers suggest this season.  He has never been a big scorer but he scored 19 points (a career best) last season.  Thorburn has been in the NHL since 2006.  He has 72 points in his 384 career games, which shows a lack of any significant scoring ability, but it has been better than this in the past.

Thorburn is a hard working popular player.  He is exactly the kind of player who becomes the worst regular in the league.  He is the kind of player who coaches love to play because of how hard they work.  The problem is he is not producing.  He is hard to pull from the lineup because his hard work makes him a role model, but he isn’t helping his team.  Winnipeg would be better served getting Chris Thorburn out of the lineup and getting somebody more productive in his spot.

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Thorburn has played in all 300 Jets games so far.

Give the guy a break, he must be running on fumes…

Posted by Garth on 12/15/11 at 10:54 PM ET

Teebz's avatar

And replace Thornburn with whom? Maybe watch a Jets game and figure out what Thorburn brings to the table. He’s not a scorer, and has never been a scorer. The suggestion that “[t]he most memorable thing Thorburn has done this season is get into a couple of fights” is beyond ridiculous when he’s told to go out and grind a line down. He’s not paid to score like Little or Kane are, and someone has to do the dirty work. Could he be better? Of course, but there are worse.

I want to know how you arbitrarily pick this player. It seems you’re intent is to figure out which players statistically are “useless” in your mind, yet contradict yourself with phrases like “He is the kind of player who coaches love to play because of how hard they work”. Claude Noel puts him out there because HE WORKS HIS ASS OFF. Never takes a shift off, and doesn’t play soft. You say, “He is hard to pull from the lineup because his hard work makes him a role model, but he isn’t helping his team”, but I doubt you see the little things he does. So how do you come up with this stuff if you’re not just arbitrarily scanning the stats page?

I find it funny that Mason gets benched for 12 straight games, yet he’s no longer the worst player after one decent outing. That’s laughable. Apparently, aberrations are the norm in your book because one good game does not a season make.

Why does Marty Reasoner not get the dishonor of worst player? Four assists in 25 games with the Islanders, and he’s bringing home a -16. This from a veteran player who is known for his defensive presence on teams.

How about big-time, off-season signing in Roman Hamrlik of Washington? One goal and a -11 rating in 25 games. He plays 19 minutes a night, has the same point total, and is worse than Thorburn in less total games. Would that not make him the worst player this season?

Marco Sturm of the Florida Panthers - a team that has rocketed up the standings - is still spinning his wheels. 30 games, 2 goals, 1 assist, and a -11 on the Southeast-leading Panthers. Horrible.

By the way, use spellcheck more often. Dishonorable spelling.

Posted by Teebz on 12/16/11 at 12:01 AM ET

Teebz's avatar

your intent*

Apparently I’m dishonorable as well. LOL

Don’t think I’m crapping on you, PSH. I just want some idea of how you judge this player. I find it fascinating that anyone would go out of their way to call out an NHL player who isn’t demonstrating the same level of skill.

Posted by Teebz on 12/16/11 at 12:04 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar


Mason’s numbers had been slowly improving in the time in between when I wrote the post calling him the worst player and his injury which led to his not playing for about a month.  His numbers jumped significantly in the one game against Vancouver.  If we want to simplify the argument to say I stopped picking Mason only based on one game that would be enough.  It is hard to be the worst regular in the NHL.  If you play too badly you wll no longer remain a regular.  If you play well you are no longer the worst.  Mason clearly won the game against Vancouver essentially by himself.  Are there any players in the league who have never won a game for their team this season?  If so that player has been worse than Mason.

Do you watch Thorburn play?  If you watched him as much as i have, you would have seen nothing significant.  He doesn’t score.  He doesn’t prevent goals?  He isn’t good enough to get a consistent shift, but he dresses every game.  What does he do?  He goes into the corner and works hard while losing the battles there.  What good is that?

Marty Reasoner may not have been good.  Roman Hamrlik may not have been good.  At least those guys are good enough to play a lot more minutes against tougher competition than Thorburn is.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/16/11 at 12:34 AM ET

Teebz's avatar

You do not watch him or the Jets, so don’t BS me. You lied about watching AHL games last season with your claim of Jonathan Bernier being the AHL MVP, and you’re lying here now. Unless you have TSN Jets, you DO NOT watch him as much as I do because I get that channel. I’m watching it right now.

In other words, I watch every single Jets game, PSH, including the game against Washington right now. The GST line is regularly played against the opposition’s best line. They are, if you will, Winnipeg’s Grind Line, and they do a pretty good job in grinding the puck down low in the offensive zone.

See the Boston game? Which line was responsible for pinning the Bruins in their own zone for over one minute before getting a good chance. Sure, Glass didn’t finish, but the GST line did exactly what they are paid to do - grind, grind, and grind some more.

See the Minny game? Again, the GST line had a big hand in swinging the momentum in the second period. What you fail to see on highlight shows is how important Glass, Slater, and Thorburn are to the success of the Jets. They don’t score, but they wear down the stars from the other team with physicality and hustle. You can’t teach that - it’s a skill that these three players are using to their advantage. It’s too bad the highlight shows you watch don’t actually pick up on this.

Next time, if you’re going to try and call my bluff, you better not BS a guy who gets every single game delivered to his TV and 15 games per season in the stands. You tried to do it last year with your Bernier prediction (which was wrong), and you’re doing here again. Cut your losses and move on.

Posted by Teebz on 12/16/11 at 01:01 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar


If your argument is that I lie about watching hockey than you have no argument.

If Bernier proves anything relevant here, he was the best player in the AHL in 09/10 and should have been the MVP leader.  You responded as though you did nopt know who he was and suggested backup goalies on other teams as MVPs.  Those choices were clearly refuted. It turned out that Keith Aucoin won MVP.  He was a reasonable choice, but I argue Bernier was a better one and your backup goalies were ridiculous choices.  I admitted to not seeing much of Bernier play on TV because Manchester Monarchs games were not regularly available in my market.  You seem to think that is some kind of big admission - that its not easy to see all AHL teams play in a season.

As for Thorburn, if you watched and understood the jets games you would see that Thorburn averages about ten minutes a game against less than average competition (per behind the net).  Among regular Jet players nobody is on the ice for more even strength goals against per minute played and his offence has only been one assist.  When Thorburn is on the ice the other team scores and he doesn’t.  He doesn’t play against especially tough competition.  If you don’t see that either you are not watching or you do not understand what you have seen.  I lean toward not understanding because you are on record saying goalies who played 37 games (Braden Holtby) or 38 games (Peter Mannino) should be MVP.  You think you can not play for over half the season and still be MVP.  By the same line of logic, you must love Brian Elliott as the NHL MVP htis year if Tuukka Rask can’t catch him.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/16/11 at 01:27 AM ET

Teebz's avatar

You jump to all sorts of illogical conclusions here, so let’s start from the beginning.

YOU DO NOT WATCH MORE JETS GAMES THAN ME. Absolute fact. I can guarantee it. I have the Jets on now, I’ve attended games in person this season, and I have a season TV pass for the remaining games.

YOU DID NOT WATCH MORE AHL GAMES THAN ME LAST SEASON. Absolute fact. I was at every Manitoba Moose home game last season, and had the AHL Live package. I know I watched more than you. Guaranteed.

YOU CALLED OUT BERNIER AS MVP. Fact. Except he didn’t win. I offered a vast number of other players such as Peter Mannino, Braden Holtby, and Keith Aucoin (the winner). Why? Because I saw these players play. I watched them play. Bernier was not the league’s MVP by any means, and the AHL press proved that with their votes. Crap on the media all you like, but they watched more AHL games than you as well. They knew better, and so did I.

As for Thorburn, he averages about 10 minutes a game because he plays the third-line. He’s not rotated through as a scoring threat because the GST line doesn’t do much scoring. The team knows that, the fans know that, and the coaching staff know that. He’s put out there to grind away on a team and bring some physicality. He does his job well despite not getting the scoring support from his linemates because none of them are scorers.

In 1996-97, the Detroit Red Wings used a line they called the “Grind Line”. Draper played in 76 games while scoring 8 goals and 5 assists with a -11 rating. Joe Kocur played in 34 games with 2 goals, one assist and a -7 rating. Kirk Maltby played in 66 games and had 3 goals, 5 assists, and a +3 rating. Yet they shut the door on everyone in the playoffs, including the feared Legion of Doom line in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Grind Line was used approximately 10-15 minutes per game by Scotty Bowman, and had a combined 13 goals, 11 assists, and a -15 rating in the regular season - hardly that of a vital cog in a championship team. Yet they were credited as being one of the most important pieces in Detroit’s Stanley Cup run. Said Ken Holland, “There wasn’t a line in the league they couldn’t match up against and play head to head. They’re blue collar, they got it done because of hard work, passion, sacrifice, blocking shots. They did lots of the dirty work that is part of the recipe to win.”

While they certainly don’t have that reputation yet, that’s what the GST line does. Again, you’d know that if you actually watched the games and not just the highlights. I can’t stress that enough because you clearly don’t watch Jets games. But keep telling yourself that you know best.

Posted by Teebz on 12/16/11 at 01:48 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar


For the sake of argument, I will believe that you watch as many games as you claim.  It doesn’t change the fact that you do not understand what you see.  Your comments here and in other threads show that.

People like you are the reason Thorburn keeps a spot in the lineup despite no production except from his opposition when he is on the ice.  He works hard.  He grinds.  He doesn’t score andf the other team does.  You think that is a positive contribution.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/16/11 at 01:54 AM ET

Teebz's avatar

You make it sound like he’s on the ice for every single goal against. He’s not. His contributions go beyond the stats page just like the Grind Line’s contribution did.

Is Dustin Byfuglien useless? He’s a -8. He’s been on for a lot of goals-against because he has 21 points, yet stands with a -8. If Thorburn is bad, Byfuglien shouldn’t even be in the NHL by your conclusion. He doesn’t work hard in his zone compared to Thorburn, and he allows a lot of goals-against. But because he brings offence, he’s a valuable asset, right?

You don’t comprehend that there are important facets to the game other than goals and assists. You never have, and you never will. It’s why your conclusions rarely are heralded - you don’t see anything but stats when there are so many other intricacies that are involved in the game.

Posted by Teebz on 12/16/11 at 02:01 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar


That is called a strawman argument you just made.  it is a logical fallacy.  That is why it is not necessary to address it.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/16/11 at 02:04 AM ET

Teebz's avatar

You just don’t get it, do you?

I lay out facts. You just stare at numbers and fantasize about why you’re right.

If the Grind Line was -15, why were they considered one of the best defensive forward units ever after the 1997 playoffs? Riddle me that, Strawman.

By the way, I haven’t disregarded any of the points you made. I’ve countered them all. Therefore, this isn’t a strawman at all. It’s your attempt to close off a rational argument with a technicality. It’s not that simple, and your ignorance of my example is clearly avoidance.

Posted by Teebz on 12/16/11 at 02:14 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Your misrepresentation of a Detroit forward line in 1997 has nothing to do with anything e are discussing.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/16/11 at 02:17 AM ET

Teebz's avatar

It has everything to do with what we are discussing. Thorburn’s role is entirely and wholly the same as Kris Draper’s role in 1997, and you’d know that if you watched any Jets games. Are you willing to deny this?


Posted by Teebz on 12/16/11 at 02:19 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Thorburn’s role is entirely and wholly the same as Kris Draper’s role in 1997

Teebz you obviously dont understand the hockey you claim to have seen if you believe this.  Draper had more ice time.  Draper played against higher calibre opposition.  Draper was trusted to kill penalties.  Draper in 1997 was a far better player than Thorburn so far in 2011/12.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/16/11 at 02:29 AM ET

Teebz's avatar

Your argument for Kris Draper’s plus/minus is useless. He doesn’t accumulate minuses on the PK, and the calibre of opposition is debatable unless you can definitely prove that Thorburn wasn’t out against Crosby, Ovechkin, Giroux, and Bergeron.

Wait, he was out there against Ovechkin tonight. In fact, I know he was. Why? I watched the game! Was he out there every second that Ovechkin was? No.

Thorburn’s EV time? 12:58.
Ovechkin’s EV time? 13:23.

Not too much difference there, right? And Thorburn wasn’t on the ice for the goal against tonight. Dare I say, maybe he should have been?

Posted by Teebz on 12/16/11 at 02:38 AM ET


Well PSH I still think your logic in the salary capped world is flawed here.

Semin is by far a much better candidate for worst player in the NHL right now. He costs his team plenty in actual salary and in cap his and his on ice production is beyond piss poor right now. Semin’s play is so poor that even as rental it seems doubtful that Washington will be able to trade him (at the deadline if they stay poor) and certainly not now for just somebody else.

Thorburn is playing poorly compared to his last 3 seasons but he is only costing a marginal amount over a minimal contract on a team with vast amounts of cap space. If he is sent down to the minors or waved or loaned to europe he is hardly a negative to a team that is likely to make more money this year than it did last. He is certainly not constraining Winnipeg from a trade unlike Semin…

Posted by paulklos on 12/16/11 at 06:39 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Semin is far from the worst regular on his team let alone the league.  He may be the most overpaid one, but that is another argument for another day.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/16/11 at 06:47 PM ET


Tend to agree with you PSH, and I think some of Teebz’s points aren’t relevant, but he’s right about Thorburn.

[/url]10 mins vs Ovechkin.

And when you look at relative Corsi-based quality of competition (which is a more accurate), Thorburn is fourth on his team among forwards and takes difficult zone starts. That being said, he’s still getting shelled in his minutes and has the sixth lowest plus minutes per 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time among forwards (min 20 GP) in the league.

I think Devante Smith-Pelly, unfortunately, was rushed to the NHL. He gets easy minutes (easy competition, good zone start) and gets killed in them.

The worst player I’d think tends to be a bottom-6 player on a really bad team (of skaters) or a terrible goalie. Not sure the Jets’ skaters are quite that bad. Carolina and Anaheim are.

Posted by Ralph on 12/18/11 at 04:14 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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