Mark Borowiecki tore his MCL too late in the season to help the team (so no repeat of last year’s fortuitous injuries), but in the midst of reaction to that (and Borocop in general), Nichols wrote a long piece holistically describing all the issues surrounding him. My opinion on it:
1) Should Borowiecki be reading Sens forums and blogs?
Absolutely not. It’s a waste of his time and there’s always going to be negative things out there (whether they are valid or not)
2) Should Borowiecki be making snide remarks about analytics or bloggers?
No. It’s self-serving and makes him an even bigger target for criticism
3) Do the criticisms of Borowiecki have anything to do with who he is as a person or how hard he tries on the ice?
4) Is it Borowiecki‘s fault that Dave Cameron and management like him so much?
No, but management and coaching receive more criticism about it than he does, so this doesn’t seem like much of an issue to me
5) Should bloggers/fans criticise Borowiecki?
They can do whatever they want, but it’s only interesting if there’s substance to back it up (which is abundant in this case)
More generally, let me tackle something Nichols said that I think a lot of people (including myself) have said in different ways before (and this isn’t really about Nichols, just the sentiment in general):
The internet is unquestionably a toxic place where criticisms and opinions are streamed in real-time, the medium serves as an echo chamber for vile and repugnant idiocy.
Is it really? If you want to go slinking around 4chan, sure, there’s plenty of repugnance there, but that’s what that site is for. If anyone thinks the Internet is somehow worse than their workplace or their neighbourhood they are being cripplingly naive (people online exist in real world too). If you want to go brawling on forums, people are going to say stupid things, but who cares about what an idiot says? The inability of such people to articulate anything makes them ridiculous, not scary. Of course there are genuine cases of harassment, but that’s not where Nichols was going and its not generally what people mean when they make broad statements like this. For my part, the positives of Internet interaction far outweigh the negatives–it’s a great way to meet people, to learn new things, and continue to evolve as a better person. Here’s a personal for-instance of Internet “drama”: Nichols has only referred to me once in his blog and that was to criticise something I’d said, but that hasn’t made me (or him) bitter or resentful–I promote his Patreon when I remember and his blog remains a favourite of mine. You can disagree with someone and still act like an adult about it, and when you find people who can’t do that you ignore them and move on.
Let’s credit Ross A over at The Silver Seven for being right about Chris Driedger. For those with good memories, I criticised Ross for being positive about him after his disastrous season in Evansville last year, but it seems like the young goaltender simply had a rough year (and let us never forget that goaltenders remain the most difficult prospects to call). He’s easily out performed Matt O’Connor in Binghamton and looks nothing like the disaster he was in the ECHL.
On the flipside of the above, I was going through the WTYKY archive and came across Luke P. and James discussing the state of the Sens in mid-February; they said some interesting things:
I feel like a lot of the negativity stems primarily from a few well-spoken, high-profile blogger/media figures who have been running with this narrative that the Ottawa Senators have no coherent plan. (Please see this James Gordon article entitled “The Ottawa Senators have no coherent plan”, and this 6th Sens article where Nichols writes of Ottawa’s “whimsical ‘get into the playoffs and anything can happen’ approach to team building.”).
When thoughtful people have opinions like that Luke, there might be some substance to them! But let’s continue.
I think the Ottawa Senators DO have a plan and that plan is to get better one incremental improvement at a time.
Two problems here: 1) we can accept that they have a plan and still argue that either management has the wrong plan or is making the wrong moves for their plan (in which case having a plan is irrelevant), 2) if he’s going to cite other people’s arguments he needs to at least detail their remarks and break them down rather than posting links no one is going to click to create strawmen for his own. Now from James:
it’s okay to be skeptical. Who knows how trades and FA signings are going to work out.
We can make very good guesses at how trades/FA signings are going to turn out–one of the joys of statistics (both the usual kind and analytics) is that you can examine trends in player performance and make very reasonable guesses at what will happen. By throwing up his hands here James is preventing even himself from assessing roster moves (and yes, I realise James is being flippant, but it’s a silly thing to say regardless). Anyway, no point in beating a dead horse.
I have gotten much better [at dealing with criticism on social media]. I hit the block button and move on. I suppose I’m human and occasionally something will bother you. But I fully realize you are never going to please everyone. Once you embrace that, you’re good.
I would love to see that [more women working in hockey media]. It is an old boy’s network. There is no doubt. But I think smart, experienced people like Cassie and Tessa Bonhomme are changing attitudes. But it’s a slow process. Too slow.
This is particularly interesting as Duthie is openly criticising his own bosses and all the other media outlets (TV, newspapers). It’s a safe sort of criticism, but nice to hear.
I don’t often cite Jeff Ulmer here, not because of a lack of respect (I remember Jeff fondly from the old days on the HFboards), but because of this:
As usual, I’m shooting from the hip with very little usage of stats in the thought process
Jeff doesn’t attempt to justify this which is a smart choice (what can he say?), but the inherent problem with his gut is that it’s not shared by anyone else. His grades sadly mean nothing as there’s no criteria for them–they might as well be emojis of peanut butter and puppies. How does a reader know Mark Fraser is a C? Why should a reader trust Jeff’s opinion when it’s based on nothing they can tangibly examine? Jeff’s approach is very common in traditional media, but it’s one I think is outmoded and (unfortunately) almost completely useless. Jeff doesn’t help his cause by assigning grades and then having his descriptions bare no relation to it (Zack Stortini as an example of that); he makes little effort to show why a player’s grade went up or down. The worst part for me is this:
with all the changes that have now taken place, that’s not going to happen [the team making the playoffs]
Jeff is referencing his own belief that Luke Richardson and Steve Stirling were going to get the team into the playoffs at the mid-point of the season. Playoffs? This team? And to use the canard that roster moves are somehow at fault is ridiculous. When you make statements like that and they blow up in your face, it hurts your credibility when your assessments are made via your gut–your gut said playoffs and the team is scrapping the bottom of the league’s barrel. This is one of the reasons I prefer an analytical approach, because instinct is a poor way to make judgements. Jeff is following the organisation’s trend of making excuses for what’s happened rather than accepting responsibility for it (which, in order to justify his gut, he has no choice). I get irritated by his approach because I know how smart Jeff is and I wish he’d embrace better ways to express his opinions.
A few free agents have been signed by NHL teams over the last couple of months: New Jersey signed NCAA free agent forward Nick Lappin (31-17-16-33), Carolina signed NCAA FA forward Andrew Poturalski (37-22-30-52), Florida signed CHL FA forward Dryden Hunt (67-54-56-110), and San Jose signed CHL FA forward Jonathon Martin (60-36-31-67). For those wondering, the odds of these players panning out is very low (you can see the stats here, albeit I haven’t updated them in awhile), with college typically more successful than the CHL. The Sens usually sign at least one NCAA free agent before the draft.
A final note: Mikael Wikstrand is having a fine season with Farjestad since being released from Sens prison (17-1-8-9).
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)