07 August, 2005

AQ takes on Luke DeCock


Before I start, a word for those who don't know me:

Overall, I like N&O Hurricanes correspondent Luke DeCock (sometimes, I'm his sole defender round these parts). He doesn't pull his punches, and (to me anyway) he makes it clear that he likes the team--No, he's not all sunshine and happiness in his coverage. Personally, I don't mind that--sometimes he makes me wince, but mostly he says what needs to be said no matter how painful it might be.

This time around, however, I think he didn't do a very good job of seasoning the proverbial sacred cow before tossing it on the barbie.

(and I apologize in advance, but I am going to go off on a tangent that is somewhat related to my previous rant)

The one thing in the article that bugged me was the intimation that we didn't try to sign Kariya--I don't buy that. I'm willing to bet good damn money that JR was greenlighted to go over budget to sign a Kariya (or even a Selanne), but Nashville just looked to him like the better place to go.

I mean, think about it. Using the Kariya signing as an example:

Nashville has been carefully building their team since Day 1, Ottawa-style. Through careful drafts, strategic signings, and just flat good trading, the Predators have made themselves an up-and-coming team that players will want to go to--especially when you throw in the fact that Nashville's just a happenin' little burg.

The 'Canes? I love them more deeply than I have loved any team in any sport ever--but let's be honest: this team is in a hurtin' way right now. We're on yet ANOTHER five-year rebuilding plan, this time to build a team that suits the aggresive puck-pursuit game that Coach Lavy's got going on. It's an exciting style of play, yes. It'll be great, yes--but don' nobody wan' sign with us because this team, at this point in time, doesn't have a direction. I have absolute faith in Lavy, I really do--but right now, I'm wondering WTF manglement is thinking.

We have the smallest scouting staff in the NHL--we have a damn good scout in Marshall Johnston (and you have to think that he had some input into our recent FA signings), but we have NO Euro scout (and probably won't have one again until sometime around the Big Crunch), we don't even have part-time scouts, and the full-time guys that we do have are stretched hella thin. How the hells are you going to do a decent job finding prospects to stock our system with if you can't devote the time necessary to do that decent job?

We have a GM who sometimes can't seem to decide what the hell he wants to do with the team--very nice to have solid character guys on the team and all, but he makes these solid signings and good draftings, and then turns around and makes trades that get us very little in return for what we give up. He hangs on to guys like Sami Kapanen and (forgive me, Mona) Jeff O'Neill until their stock is worth mere pennies on the dollar, and then trades them for what amounts to a pittance. I love Brrrrrrruno to pieces, but I think we could have gotten more (or better) than him and an injured Krispy Kreme for little Sami. I also think that, had we traded O sooner than we did, we could have gotten more than a draft pick for him. Hells, had we done our homework we may have found out that Brendl was hurt before the trade, rather than simply taking him sight unseen and watching dejected while Bobby Clarke laughed all the way to the bank.

Do I blame ownership for this? Yes--insofar as that ownership has stood steadfastly by a GM whose GMing skills are pretty lacking. As I said years ago on a now-defunct message board, loyalty is an admirable quality to have--but there are times when such steadfast loyalty is a hindrance rather than a help.

Soanyway--about Luke's Op-Ed piece:

He was, I think, trying to show that management is doing a slack job of trying to win back the casual fans and the new fans that discovered the team right before Armageddon hit. HOWEVER, I think he went too far the other way by only talking to people that had zero clue about how rock-solid our latest signings actually are. Where I think that Luke failed, in this piece, is in NOT talking about how solid those signings really are amd how hard management actually worked to try to land guys like Bryan Berard and Adrian Aucoin (among others--I heard an ugly rumor that we did go after McCarty, but then Mac heard I was married and...oh, sorry, forgot this thing was on). Where he also failed was in not talking to more people--people like quite a few of us on this board (and scout.com) that are genuinely pleased about having these new guys on our team. He also failed to mention the big steps back that teams like the Leafs and the Avalanche (and even the hated Red Wings) made. What could have been a golden opportunity to really capture the attention of the casual fan (and give a big F**K YOU to the idiots that wrote in to the N&O pissin' and whinin' and moanin' about the fact that they had "too much coverage of that yankee team") falls flat on its virtual face.

It's very rare that I say this, but this time I think it's pretty well warranted: Luke, son, you didn't do your homework very well. Go to the back of the class and put on the pointy hat.