Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The battle for the bottom continues

Last overall is coming into focus after Atlanta's big (?) win last night, with Los Angeles and Tampa Bay the only teams really still in the hunt:

30. Los Angeles, 69 points, 3 GR (@SJ, SJ, ANH)
29. Tampa Bay, 71 points, 3 GR (@Car, @Was, @Atl)
28. Atlanta, 74 points, 2 GR (Fla, TB)
27. St. Louis, 74 points, 4 GR (Nsh, @Nsh, Cls)
26. NY Islanders, 76 points, 3 GR (NJ, NYR, @NYR)

That's quite the schedule for the Kings.

More at FanHouse.



At 12:04 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) One would think, Thank God that the NHL has a draft lottery, else these down ward spirals would be looked upon suspiciously. Certainly a team wouldn't intentionally lose because even the 30th place finisher only has a 40% chance at getting the 1st overall pick, right?.
2) However, it can't be overlooked that only finishing in the bottom 5 gives a team a shot at that pick. (A team can't move up more than 4 slots if they win the lottery so the 6th worst team can't pick higher than 2nd)

3) We're NOT saying that any of these teams are intentionally tanking it for a pick. However, our position, though radical and controversial, would eliminate all possible doubt, and no longer reward failure/incompetence.
4) That is do what was done in the 'Crosby sweepstakes' (2005 draft). Have ALL teams' draft order determined equally by a lottery. It would be a great/exciting show, like then, to have every team a chance at the 1st pick, and it eliminates once and for all any chance that teams would be disincentivized from playing their best/best players at all times!

At 12:26 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

that might be the worst idea I've ever heard.

Why don't we just have the league act as GM for every team and randomly assign players to each team every September.

How exciting!

At 12:30 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Pete: Far from making the NHL the 'GM for every team', it forces GM's/teams to improve by making good decisons, not by tanking a season or two to rebuild and getting good picks. It eliminates ANY notion that teams aren't playing their best each and every night.
2) Also, and as importantly, it stops once and for all the idiotic notion of reward for failure. While we're a it stop the 'loser point' in games. You lose, you get zero points for your effort!

At 12:58 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous tubby17 said...

I have to say, if a team like Detroit (i.e., amazingly competitive year after year despite no top-10 first round pick in the last 15 years) managed to get a player like Tavares next year on their 1-in-30 shot, I might just stop watching hockey.

I don't see it as "rewarding failure" but as giving franchises a fighting chance to turn things around. I feel that "reward" implies something guaranteed. A high pick gives a franchise the opportunity to succeed but guarantees nothing.

At 1:05 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger Freeptop said...

The big problem with making all drafts Crosby-style lotteries, is that you run the very real risk of making it so that the worst teams continue to get worse, while the best teams get better. While I'm sure there are teams that would love that, it makes very little business sense to doom the lower ranked teams to perpetual mediocrity by denying them potential franchise builders from the draft.

Yes, sometimes we will see an unsavory team or two attempt to tank. On the other hand, consider what some of the recent drafts have allowed some teams to do: Pittsburgh, Washington, Chicago - all of these teams have been able to parlay top picks in the draft into players to build their teams around, and bring back fans. It's certainly not a guarantee, and the front office has to manage the team well, even with the top pick(s), but the ability for a team to go from the bottom one season to the playoffs in the next one is something I think is good for the league.

At the very least, it's not good for business. Fans of teams that have losing seasons can always at least look forward to the draft. If you take that away from them, you'll see fans leave. Winning teams, on the other hand, don't need the excitement of a potential high draft pick to keep their fans. Considering the NHL wants to draw more fans to hockey, doing anything that could drive away fans is a bad idea.

At 1:09 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger Daniel said...

Tubby, you can't punish a team for having excellent scouts, development and coaching. I am willing to bet a few of Detroit's ventures have fallen through the holes, but overall, they have an excellent staff, obviously. It is dumb to give every team a chance at the #1 pick though. Just blow up your organization and make sure that you have smart people where they need to be, developing young players and shedding dead weight.

At 1:12 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous twain said...

It is too radical a suggestion, but I honestly wouldn't mind them making it a free for all lottery for all teams missing the playoffs. Once teams starting calling up Dan Cloutier, we have a problem. It also gets troubling watching the same mismanaged and/or intentionally tanking teams get the top picks.

As an Edmonton fan, I might just be bitter having to fight it out in the NW, while Nashville has been playing 1.5 teams out of the race over the last while.

Wouldn't it be nice to go into a season knowing one could try to be competitive, and if that failed one had a chance at Tavares?

At 1:27 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous tubby17 said...

Daniel--I don't think that giving Detroit a late first-round pick is punishing them any more than not letting a rich person apply for food stamps is punishing them.

The number of banners hanging from their rafters is a good indication of the degree to which they've been "punished" by the current system.

At 1:29 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger KMS2 said...

I think it would be a miracle (an unfortunate one) if the Kings managed to finish 29th given their remaining schedule compared to Tampa's. And I can't really get too excited about the upcoming draft since Lombardi will probably end up drafting someone that every other team has ranked in the second round. He's done a decent job with draft picks but it would be nice to see him pick a player that can play in the NHL in the very near future.

At 1:32 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Stamkos will be in the NHL next season, I don't think there's any question. He had nearly a goal a game during the OHL season and has nine in four playoff games so far.

A real gem.

At 1:39 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous tubby17 said...

twain--I have to agree. In the current system, there are two "bubbles":

1) teams that are hovering around playoff contention and

2) teams that are hovering around lottery consideration

This creates motivations operating in opposite directions depending on which bubble you're on (i.e., to do better if you're on the first bubble and to do worse if you're on the second).

In a system like you suggest, only the first bubble exists. There still exist 2 competing motivations, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that would give up a playoff appearance for a 1-in-14 shot at first-overall.

At 1:41 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Teams like Detroit/NJ stay on top, competitive year in and out despite not getting those high draft picks. How? They are run by people who are competent. Meanwhile teams like LA/Atlanta/NYI, etc are annually in the dumper WITH high picks, yet they manage to mismanage those assets
2) Why should the league continue to reward this mismanagement?

At 2:01 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous tubby17 said...

faux rumors--you seem to be focusing on a) "rewarding" teams who manage their resources badly rather than b) "punishing" teams who manage their resources well.

Fine. To point b, I would say that 3 cups each in the last 15 years for Detroit and NJ is good indication that the "punishment" isn't working.

To point a, suppose these perennially bad teams that you cite (LA/Atlanta/NYI) did not get a better shot at top picks. All things being equal, these teams would likely be worse-off in the system you propose than they are in the current system.

Are you saying that not having this drafting "safety net" would motivate these teams to become better or are you saying that these teams don't deserve to exist because they are so badly managed? Is there a third alternative you're thinking of? Not trying to be argumentative; I'm honestly asking.

At 2:29 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous baroque said...

Sometimes teams have no need to tank because they are just really, really, REALLY bad. I don't think of the draft as a reward as much as a way to enable teams to try to get better.

Say there was no draft at all, and any prospect was free to sign with whatever team he wanted to (the way most other professions operate). If a team doesn't have a winning tradition or a wonderful city or a good young team on the rise, and the salaries are essentially the same everywhere, who in his right mind would go to a horrible environment? It would be a team with no winning culture, no hope of winning in the future, and a lousy place to live.

With the draft, it at least gives bad teams the opportunity to get some highly-talented players that if they had the choice to go to any team would possibly not even consider the worst teams. With the earlier free agency it isn't a free pass for the team, either - if they don't show some committment to winning, this talented young player will bolt in the prime of his career and the team will be lousy again if they haven't picked up anything else.

The league can't force teams to manage their resources competently, so there will always be draft flops even with the highest picks.


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