[Note: The Q(ual)C(omp)R(ank) column shows the position on the qualcomp list the player occupies on his own team. So 1 means the guy faces the hardest competition on his team, 17 (generally) the easiest competition. I limited everything to players with at least ten games on the season.]
Charts are beautiful things: so reasonable, so tidy, with all their neat straight lines and regularly proportioned boxes. Looking at a good chart, one can forget all about postmodernism altogether and drift happily along in a rational universe, buoyed by the sheer sensibility of everything. And sometimes, if you stare at them long enough, they start to tell you things.
This chart, for example, gives you a basic typology of the talent-developing practices of contemporary NHL coaches. Their philosophy of child-rearing, if you will. You have your neglectful dads, who just toss the kids down on the fourth line with the goons, play them eight fairly soft minutes a night and hope they learn something along the way. You have your warm, fuzzy, doting dads, the Mr. Mom types, who give their precious little boys everything they could ever ask for, stuff them full of offensive zone time and weak opposition until they fairly burst with goals. And then there’s the gruff, old-school, trial-by-fire dads, who just throw ‘em in the deep end and figure them as don’t drown are good enough to keep.
I’m messing around with a longitudinal project on young players and development techniques, the relationship between methods of use and trajectories of production, etc etc. Will anything substantive ever come of it? Given that my lifetime ratio of intended projects to realized projects is about 9323:1, probably not, so I’ve decided to post some of the bits and pieces along with way for contemplation and comment. For example, here are some comments:
1. Who exactly is Roman Horak and why are the Flames trying to kill him? Is this some kind of Calgarian ritual of sacrifice used to revivifying the skating corpse of Jarome Iginla with the blood of the young?
2. Tom Renney does not love all his children equally.
3. As much as PDO still creeps me out, the juxtaposition of Tyler Seguin and Erik Gudbrandson’s respective output/input is pretty persuasive. Now I just need somebody to tell me the PDO for my life.
4. If the Avalanche fuck up these kids, Quebec City will have a moral obligation to send a covert pack of slinky bombshells with sexy accents to seduce, drug, and recapture the team, because Colorado will have proven itself unworthy. Duchene is the only one getting anything close to any kind of shelter and they’re still getting tremendous results.
5. Unless I am missing something, Jared Cowan does not look ready for prime time.
6. One of my big questions going forward: what, exactly, are the virtues of the eight-minutes-per-sixty strategy? Couturier is the only one who’s doing well with it, and the smart money says it’s gonna get harder for him before it gets easier. If you’ve got a kid who you think is worth putting on an NHL team before he’s legal to drink in most NHL cities, it must be because you think he can contribute something awesome now, because cap management, ELC, blah blah blah. But nobody is going to contribute anything awesome lining up with George Parros two shifts a period. Wouldn’t anyone whose long-term projections are high-end benefit more from playing on the high end of a lower tier team than from warming the bench in the NHL? Hockey skill is not transferable by butt-chair osmosis, otherwise I would have learned something from Vincent Lecavalier. The fourth line is useful as a final stop for mid-range NHL guys aging out of their skills and as a prize for the hardest of the hard-working AHLers, but I can’t see how it helps development.
7. In data form, one Larsson looks much like another. Perhaps it was the same Lars.
8. With the remarkable exception of Colorado, every other team gives their young players at least a slight degree of protection from the top competition. In some cases, like Edmonton, I suspect the mid-range QualComp rankings are the result of an average between being very sheltered at home and deliberately targeted on the road. The kids who are bottoming out the QualComp on their team are mostly the 8-minute crowd, which goes beyond any deliberate protective intent by their coach- it suggests to me that coaches like worst-on-worst action in any rink.
[Please note that I am interested only in usage and performance thus far. This information is not necessarily predictive- luck, small sample size, ‘choice’, whatever- and I’ll be revisiting all this down the road to see how it pans out over the whole season.]
All data courtesy of behindthenet.ca