For the third time in five years, we are into July and the New Jersey Devils do not have a coach. Conventional wisdom says this is a bad way to run a franchise. Presumably a coach should be involved in the draft and the July free agent frenzy. It is logical to fill out a roster in a way that suits a team’s coach. This isn’t possible when the coach is unknown. It is an important step for a coach to “buy in” to the way his team is selected.
The New Jersey Devils have run a franchise where the coach is an easily replaceable part. This prevents them from hiring top coaches who have other more stable job options. This pattern of being last in the league in hiring a coach takes some of the most attractive coaching options off the table before the Devils get around to hiring one.
I want to look at one more case study from my worst 20 adjusted +/- ratings for 2010/11. I want to look at Jack Johnson of the Los Angeles Kings. He is the sixth worst this season with a -22.2 rating. This is a consistent ranking for him as in 2009/10 he was also sixth worst in the league this time with a -18.2 rating. In fact in Johnson’s NHL career he has never had a season where he wasn’t well into the minus ratings. Since some of his seasons do not have enough games to properly adjust his +/-, I will present his career stats with his raw +/- ratings.
Yesterday I looked at the worst players in 2010/11 by adjusted +/-. Heading this is David Booth of the Florida Panthers. Booth had a team worst -31 +/- rating. His team adjustment improves him to -26.0 and this is worst in the league. Booth led the Panthers in goal scoring with 23 goals. His 40 points placed him third in team point scoring. He was the leading forward on the team in terms of ice time, in part because he played all 82 games. What went wrong with Booth?
In 2008/09 Booth was playing in his third year in the NHL. He led the team with 31 goals and scored 60 points. He looked like he could be a potential star. As a result he signed his current contract with gives him a $4.25 salary cap hit through 2014/15. Even after Florida’s spending spree this summer, he is their third biggest salary cap hit (behind Brian Campbell and Tomas Fleischmann).
Adjusted +/- takes raw +/- ratings and removes a team baseline so that we can compare between different teams. This is not adjusted for quality of opposition or teammates or any other situations. Thus it will identify those players who succeeded in their role (or failed as in the case of this worst list). Since it does not take the player`s role into account, there is no reason that this list is the most inept NHL players from 2010/11.
Nieuwendyk is a recent enough addition to my Hall of Fame lists that I have a blogpost from when I first considered him a Hall of famer and a career retrospective from when he retired.
In order to make Hall of Fame cases I am using the Keltner List, which was made popular by Bill James in baseball. It is a list of qualitative questions that get to the heart of any player`s Hall of Fame candidacy.
Here is the Keltner List for Joe Nieuwendyk:
In order to make the case I am using the Keltner List, which is a series of qualitative questions popularized by Bill James in baseball to make the case for potential Hall of Famers.
Here is the Keltner List for Mark Howe:
The NHL is preparing for a lockout after the 2011/12 season. This lockout may or may not occur. Largely it depends on what happens during the NFL and NBA labor disputes and the public sentiment at that point. The NHL is trying to engineer a public sentiment for a lockout using the mainstream media. This is the same strategy that they used in the 2004 lockout.
One of these stories was written by Ken Campbell. He cites the fact that over $400 million was given to 58 players in the first day of free agency as a reason that the current hockey system is out of control and needs change.
The fact is that these contracts do not affect NHL profits on the league level one bit. It is a smokescreen the owners have invented to show the need for a lockout.
Now that the majority of the free agent signings have occurred in a two-day frenzy, we can return to what we were talking about before interruption. I was spelling out the Hall of Fame cases for the 2011 inductees. I have already published the case for Ed Belfour and today move onto Doug Gilmour.
I think the best way to spell out a Hall of Fame case is using the Keltner List, which was popularized by Bill James in baseball. I discuss it here. It is a series of largely qualitative questions that cut to the heart of any hall of Fame case.
Here is the Keltner List for Doug Gilmour:
I have stayed out of the way for the first couple days of the crazy free agent market in part to wait and see what would happen and in part because I was enjoying a nice Canada Day Weekend outside.
My biggest reaction is that this is much ado about nothing. A reasonable number of players changed hands and often at inflated prices. Very little occurred that changed my opinions of how well teams might do next year. Mostly it is depth players getting a lot of money.
The most highly regarded player wound up in New York City. Brad Richards is a New York Ranger. That is exactly what the salary cap system is intended to do. Sure it was argued that salary cap would prevent one big market team from buying all of the free agents, but no team needs that. They only need to sign the best free agent or two. The most popular markets will get the best players and this helps them to win. It is good for the NHL`s revenue when big markets win.
As teams will soon begin to bid on unrestricted free agents in earnest in a short time, I took a look at what is out there yesterday with my 2011 All UFA Team. To get an idea of what this team might look like this season, let’s look at last year’s team and assess how good that team would have been. Here was last year’s team. Of the 23 players, 19 played in the NHL. Maxim Afinogenov, Pavol Demitra and Evgeni Nabokov played on in the KHL and Paul Kariya took the season off to attempt to recover from concussions and eventually retired.
Here are the 2010 members of the All UFA team with their statistics and salary cap hits from last season:
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???