Senators News: November 21st

-Nichols transcribes another Luke Richardson interview and here’s what the B-Sens coach had to say:

On Mika Zibanejad

Yeah, I have (been happy with his game) and even Saturday, following up (Mika and I) talked a little bit at the morning skate on Friday about (going) straight down the wall, straight lines and shooting the puck and going to the net. He’s a big body and is hard to control (as a defensive player) with his size and speed. To his credit, their line went to the net and he got his own rebound on Friday and Saturday, in the first period, he went racing down the right wing on a two-on-one and shot one right off the post.  He’s still getting his chances, so we’re still liking the way he’s playing. He is tracking defensively very well and he is starting to gauge his body a little more and getting used to that and this style of hockey over hear. We’re happy with him and I’m sure he’s probably frustrated and wants to get a few more points on the board; especially on the power play. (His unit) is really is creating lots of chances. I think Friday, we had 10 out of 19 (scoring) of our chances on the power play. So we’re doing some good things, we just have to really get that killer instinct out there and finish them off.

This is exactly the kind of thing Richardson has been saying about Zibanejad all season: fans need to take Robin Lehner‘s advice and just relax and let him develop.

On Jakob Silfverberg

Great. He’s so smart. He came into the coaches’ room after the first period to see some video on a penalty kill and he asked a question, and he basically answered the question by asking it; that’s how smart of a player he is. (We told him), ‘You did what you needed to do there, it’s just kind of playing hockey and adjusting as it goes.’ We have our systems but those guys are out there and they are the ones who have to adjust as it goes. He is that smart. He talks to other players and he is vocal. He has played pro for a couple of years so he is not really a rookie but he is over here and getting used to his confinements in that small rink and I think he is. The other night, a guy took a big run at him and I don’t think he was too happy, so he went right back at the guy in his own way. Obviously his stature wasn’t as big as the other guy, but he went right after him so I thought that was a good response from him – to show players that he is not going to back off physically. He is a big enough and strong enough guy, but he is so smart out there. He makes things happen with and without the puck; which is just as important.

You have to like how engaged Silfverberg is at the micro level of the game, as well as not letting the opposition intimidate him.

-Scott tries to address fan concerns that top prospects aren’t producing in Binghamton as expected and finds solace in their shots-per-game stats (the value of which was explored by Stephan Cooper back in May–it’s an interesting read, although I think Cooper set the bar too low by making the AHL games played minimum only 25 games for his data set).

-As a blast from the past I took a look at Robert Vollman‘s attempt to translate AHL scoring to NHL scoring from last fall.  He makes the proper distinction that the raw number of that translation (0.45) from one league to the other is essentially meaningless until it is broken down by more specific categories.  Vollman points out some of the inconsistencies, but doesn’t delve further into it.  One factor seems straightforward: older AHL players are given better opportunities in the minors and can get away with flaws (like skating) that don’t work at the NHL level.

-Scott Burnside compares the current lockout with the 2005-04 lockout and I want to look at some of the differences he mentions:

The two sides have actually spoken on a fairly regular basis since the start of the lockout, on Sept. 15. The fact deputy commissioner Bill Daly and his NHLPA counterpart Steve Fehr didn’t speak for a few days last week was a marked departure from the relatively open lines of communication that have marked this negotiation. Now, sometimes the talks have been short, such as when the league walked out after examining a trio of player proposals for 10 minutes. Other meetings have been more substantial. In the previous lockout, there were long periods of icy silence, most notably from mid-September to early December 2004 that set the tone for the historic lost season. Most observers believe that constant contact, however minimal it might be, is imperative to a deal getting done in a timely fashion and saving at least some of the 2012-13 season.

The core issues, of course, are markedly different, as the league was trying to enforce a salary cap last time and also got a 24 percent rollback on salaries. This time the league is coming off five straight years of record revenue growth, so talks are about redefining the sharing of the revenue pie. The players and owners still can’t get straight how the league will honor all or most of all the existing contracts, while sorting through the contractual restrictions the league wants. In short, these are important issues, but ones most observers believe are eminently solvable, especially given that both sides seem to accept that revenues will get to a 50-50 split at some point in a new deal and revenue sharing must be enhanced to ensure league stability from top to bottom.

One big difference that enhances the players’ desire to stand firm on having existing contracts honored (funny how the NHL appears to be the only pro sports league where honoring deals made by owners is a subject for negotiation) is the number of players under contract now compared to eight years ago. According to the NHLPA, 592 players were under contract at the start of the 2004 lockout. This fall, 658 players were under contract. If the owners are waiting for the players to crack as they did last time, the fact that so many are fighting for money they’re already owed is a significantly different dynamic.

The public relations fight is markedly different this time. Thanks to the explosion of social media, fans are able to voice their opinions more often and more candidly than eight years ago. The owners and Gary Bettman have, for the most part, taken a beating via Facebook and Twitter from players, agents and fans (although, as mentioned earlier, players have been very circumspect about calling out the men who actually pay their salaries). What will be interesting is how sponsors respond to that. Do they shy away from returning or extending existing contracts based on the anger and resentment that seems to be much more prevalent this time? Why wouldn’t they? Eight years ago, fans in general, and especially in Canada, believed getting a salary cap and controlling costs was imperative for stabilizing the game in Canada and for small-market teams. It didn’t exactly work out that way, but this time the perception at least is that fans are a lot angrier, and that anger is much more easily shared.

Today it is being reported the NHLPA is prepared to move off having existing contracts honoured, so flexibility exists there after all.  On the whole all of these differences are positive and I think the fact that there are less tangible reasons for a lockout is why fan anger is as hot as it is.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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1 Comment

  1. […] Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract (I’ve referenced him a few times, like his look at how AHL scoring translates at the next level and his rather unfortunate prediction that Dustin Penner was the best free agent signing of this […]


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