Random Thoughts - Toughness And Monahan

Kent Wilson
September 16 2013 10:55AM

 

 

Usually my random thoughts missives feature a number of items, but this one is on just two that have cropped up recently: the value of toughness or "grit" in hockey and whether or not Sean Monahan should spend the year with the Flames.

First we'll take on toughness. This issue was brought to my attention by frequent commenter (and antagonist of mine) Clyde when he said this after a Michael Ferland fight during the young stars tournament:

But, you can't measure the impact Ferland's grit made so it isn't useful. Lol

Two things, but I'll be particular first - attributing the Flames resurgence in the Canucks prospect game specifically to the Ferland fight is post hoc ergo propter hoc, or "after this therefore because of this". It's tempting to applaud fights when good things happen after them, but to be honest one should keep a tab of how often that actually happens in order to derive a true effect from fisticuffs.

This has been looked at - from a number of angles - and overall the effect is not quite nothing for winning a fight, but it's as close as nothing as to be generally unimportant.

Which is the reason that most fights in hockey occur when the score is out of reach. To be sure, if fighting guaranteed a significant swing in shots and scoring chances, goons would be some of the most valuable players on any given club, rather than minimum wage, 4th line guys.

Secondly, and more generally, my position in regard to grit overall isn't that it's worthless, but rather, that it's grossly overvalued and weighted incorrectly in traditional hockey terms. Like any other physical tool, grit is a boon if it leads to positive outcomes for the player and team on the ice, but not terribly useful otherwise. Just like skating, shooting and hockey sense, grit is potentially a means to and end but not an end unto itself.

Unfortunately, toughness seems to be the lone ability that can keep a guy in the show, absent any other NHL level qualities. You'll usually see highly skilled but defensively disinterested forwards smeared as "one dimensional", but the truly one dimensional creatures in this league are the guys who are only around to crash and bang or chuck fists; the guys who are gross liabilities under almost any circumstance, who bleed shots and goals against and take more penalties than they draw, because the only NHL level skill they have is to absorb and dish out pain. As a result, they are eaten for breakfast by the actual NHLers they face each and every shift.

There are plenty of good hockey payers who count grit or toughness as a primary tool: Dustin Brown, David Backes, Milan Lucic, etc., etc. And there's not doubt that every potential NHLer needs a certain threshold of "toughness" to make it into the show given the size, strength of the players and the inherent violence in the game. But grit as a stand-alone asset - toughness for toughness sake - is an inherently self-defeating strategy. The point of the game is to score more goals than the other guys, not merely prove you have the biggest balls.

It's interesting to see how this misconception plays out across the league, particularly on bad teams whom convince themselves that at least some portion of their struggles can be attributed to not being gritty enough. This idea has afflicted the Oilers for years during their rebuild, resulting in the fruitless churn of relatively useless players through their bottom-6 rotation (Zack Stortini, Steve MacIntyre, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk, Mike Brown), ironically making their club worse and extending their stay at the bottom of the league.

A metaphor for that style of management, I think, is making a stew and then adding rocks for texture: while it might be entirely true that your stew is rather mushy and that rocks are indeed "crunchy", the addition does nothing to actually improve the meal.

Send Monahan Back to Junior

As of this writing Sean Monahan has had a strong training camp, which means the number of fans agitating for him to stay with the parent club all season has increased. I've gone on record before about this topic, but it bears repeating: burning a year of Monahan's ELC at this point would be a mistake.

Firstly, because the chances of Monahan actually helping the Flames do anything meaningful this year is almost zero. The kid is too young and the team is too far away from competing for that to be realistic. Since the lock-out, only 29 forwards between the ages of 18-19 have played 65 games or more in their rookie season. Only 10 of them scored more than 50 points.

Secondly, as mentioned, it would be a poor allocation of a precious, limited resource. Entry level contracts are artificially capped by the league and the best potential value deals a team has. Most kids aren't good enough during their first 3 pro years for that to matter much, but when potential stars come along, it makes sense to horde their 3 ELC seasons as long as possible - or least try to position them closer to a time when the team will be competitive in order to leverage those deals as much as possible.

Let's put it this way - would a season of cheap Sean Monahan be more useful to the Flames now? Or to the Flames in 2016-17, which would be the last year of his ELC if Calgary were to send him back to junior this season? Because that's the trade-off you make if Monahan sticks as an 18-19 year old.

It's true that rebuilding clubs have a habit of keeping their recent high draft picks around even as teens, and sometimes it might be warranted on merit, but mostly it seems to be a PR and marketing tool used to mollify a fanbase eager for something to cheer about. And although I'm personally excited to see Monahan strut his stuff in the NHL, it strikes me as short-sighted at best to toss him head first into year 1 of the Flames probably lengthy rebuild effort.

I'm in this for the long haul, the bigger payoff, so I'm willing to suppress the wish for instant gratification so the team has a better chance of winning later.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 DoubleDIon
September 16 2013, 11:57AM
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@Parallex

I generally agree that Monahan should be sent down, but if he looks like he belongs in the top 9 I keep him up. I'd be upset if I was the 7th best player at camp and was sent down so a team could save an entry level year. The goodwill of your players is worth something and if he's good enough to play a top 9 role in the NHL then he'll develop best at that level.

I'd hate to see us use him 5 minutes a game on the 4th line like they did with Bartschi. Total waste if that's the case. Make it clear to him that he'll stick if he's a top 9 forward and let the chips fall where they may.

I love the statistical analysis on this site. But players are people, and good organizations treat their people as people, not just assets.

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#2 oldtimehockey4
September 16 2013, 11:16AM
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RE: burning a year of ELC.

I have a counter to this idea that using a year now is worse than using a year in 2016-17. Think of it this way, if you, as a blogger, has figured out this is a loophole to keep good players at a bargain later into their career, the players agents have most definitely figured this out as well.

As players who deserve to make the NHL get put back for cap reasons, we will see an inflation in the demands from agents for their second contract, nullifying the advantage given from a cheap contract year.

We are starting to see that already with the Kadri situation. He was a player that was pushed in the minors perhaps a little longer than necessary, restricting his earning capacity in that time, as well as his bargaining power for his second deal. The result was a souring of player/organization relationship, a bridge contract and higher demands from Kadri than probably were warranted by his stats.

I say if Monahan deserves the NHL, you play him in the NHL.

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#3 Jeff Lebowski
September 16 2013, 01:25PM
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Keeping Monahan for PR reasons OR sending him down for future 'cost savings' are two terrible, and IMO, laughable justifications.

The outcome is not how many wins will Monahan add to Calgary this year. The desired outcome is for Sean to play in the place that allows him to grow the most.

If you look at this through the rather myopic lens of on ice growth only you could easily convince yourself that junior is best. However, think of EVERYTHING that goes into maximizing human potential (how do you make an elite athlete)?

Take it out of the context of hockey and examine it a different way:

If you had a child that demonstrated 'giftedness', what would you do? Keep him/her in a regular school and expose them to convention or find an environment that accelerates their learning? Will cost win out, especially when you can afford it but in the lifetime of your child you would prefer to save money for a few years.

Now, if you can't look at Monahan and IMMEDIATELY see his giftedness then this is a pointless exercise. To me, it's gob smackingly obvious. Just watch him. I'm not saying he's Crosby or that he flashes obvious skills. What I see is an 18 year old who can control the play (sometimes that means making a routine play or an amazing play - what is the quality of your decision making?) at the NHL level. His mind is his gift.

Another point I think about is the young players who are no longer prospects but established but still growing NHLers like Brodie, Backlund, Sven and the WOWY stat. When I watch Monahan play he just screams WOWY monster (he makes people better - perhaps in more ways than shots). I think it serves the Flames better to have that happen with Flames' assets rather than unaffiliated players (junior).

Finally, in terms of organizational behaviour/psychology what impact does telling employees that we need to see A,B,C progressions, your employee does them and you tell them it's not good enough (because you're thinking of future earnings reports). You will never get greatness that way.

This idea that tomorrow will be a better time is garbage in the realm of professional sports. Maximize now. Do what's best now (for growth) and the transactional details will get sorted. Especially if you (Flames) can be disciplined and show integrity by acting in the best interests of your players.

Of course, my assessment could be wrong and he's not that player...yet. Then by all means send him down but if the decision is pre determined on cost savings?? Bad.

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#4 jai kiran
September 16 2013, 11:33AM
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As far as toughness as a useless standalone quality is concerned, I don't disagree entirely. But Michael Ferland isn't just looking like a goon-and-that's-all. And you can say that the win after the Ferland fight is post hoc ergo propter hoc: but it ain't just Clyde who thought that - it was everybody who watched INCLUDING THE COACH.

Just being a puncher is nothing, but I know I'm not the only Flames fan who remembers the team totally turning games around after Iginla kicked somebody's ass.

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#5 Arik
September 16 2013, 11:19AM
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Hitting the nail on the head re: Monahan. Doesn't matter how good he is relative to the rest of the team, he's still an 18 year old rookie. No sense in rushing him for the sake of yelling "FUTURE" through a megaphone.

It's bad decision-making short and long term.

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#6 Parallex
September 16 2013, 11:20AM
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This pretty much mirrors what I think... Toughness is a great thing to have but only so long as it's toughness on top of actual skill and not toughness in lieu of actual skill.

For the good of the Flames (and eventually the Fans) Monahan must return to Junior (Where I imagine he'll promptly be traded unless the 67's are run by idiots). A cheap Monahan with a competative Flames team will allow the Flames the opportunity to build amazing depth (if for only a little while). Needs to happen.

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#7 seve927
September 16 2013, 12:13PM
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The other side of the argument on Monahan would be, with the tendency toward bridge deals, the value contract is getting extended to 5 years before the big payoff. Delaying him a year makes it more likely that he demands a big payday at the expiry of his ELC, meaning that you actually get less value at what might be the most critical time: 2016-2018.

I think you just do what's right for the player. I'd personally rather not see him play this year. I have no idea what will be better for his development (I'd guess junior), but I think the Flames do, and I'd rather see them do what's right for him, than try to get cute to squeeze out an extra year of cheap labour. That to me seems shortsighted. Just do whatever you can to allow him to be the best player he can.

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#8 Demetric
September 16 2013, 11:17AM
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your points on Monahan:

1. Wont significantly help the club ... that would not be the point. the point being where will he develop the most/better. so your that likely wont be a big contributor is meaningless at this point in time.

2. Burning a year on ELC, valid point, but in the real big picture it may not have too large of an affect.

Now with that being said, I agree I think it would probably be best for Monahan to get his 9 cups of coffee then take what he has learned and go back to junior and work on those points.

as far as grit and grit alone, I agree no real place in todays game, however, fights can turn the tide of the game, as it did in the prospects game. The thing is it does not always work, but sometimes it does. Again not saying you need a face puncher but if you can get a face puncher that can play hockey all the better.

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#9 clyde
September 16 2013, 12:10PM
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Ferland's fight did contribute to the win. He picked the right time and knew his team needed something to wake them up as they were being dominated in all areas of the game. Sometimes it is a big hit, sometimes it is a goal and sometimes it is a fight. Sometimes it doesn't work but the message Ferland sent to his team and the Canucks was that he was here to compete and there will be no more running us over. His teammates got the message.

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#10 DoubleDIon
September 16 2013, 12:24PM
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@Parallex

I don't think anyone has said anything about keeping him around so we can say "Yay Youth." That would be stupid. I think people are saying they'd like for the Flames to be an "earn it" organization. I don't want to see players treated just like a commodity. If he's clearly better than other top 9 options then he deserves to be here. I would be upset (so would you, so would Kent) if I was held back at work so that the company could save some cash on me down the line when I deserved the promotion over someone else. Asset thinking is one thing, being blatantly cheap is another. If I was Monahan and the organization sent me back to Junior to save 500k down the line I'd make sure they paid more than they saved when I was a UFA or I'd walk.

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#11 DoubleDIon
September 16 2013, 01:01PM
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@Parallex

How would they be saving 5-6 million? You're making the assumption that at 21-22 he'd be a 8.5-9.5 million dollar player. I'd say he's more likely in the 4 million range tops. I know you don't think that he's a 8-10 million dollar player, but you're forgetting to add the max ELC that he'd get otherwise. Some comparables for Monahan from 2010 that are relevant are: Johansen, Niederreiter and Connolly by draft position. All of whom are presently, or slated to be smaller cap hits than their entry level deals were.

If he has a break out year like Kadri or Duchene did he's slated for the 2.9-3.5 million that those guys got. So no, there is no plausible scenario that Monahan becomes a 5-6 million dollar player unless he looks like he's going to be elite and absolutely no scenario where he becomes a 8-10 million dollar player.

If he becomes Tavares or Hall I'd be absolutely delighted to pay him 5-6 million per btw. EDIT: I do think it's detrimental to his development to play 4th line minutes. So yes, his development trumps the earning it portion of the assessment. But saving a bit of money and losing the goodwill of the player doesn't. I know Feaster's buzz words have often not amounted to anything, but a meritocracy has worked well for the Senators and I'd like to see the same philosophy applied by the Flames. With the obvious caveat of it being beneficial to the development of the player. In other words, no more Bartschi's playing with Jackman/Kostopolous types.

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#12 The Last Big Bear
September 16 2013, 04:49PM
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@Jeff Lebowski

" (he makes people better - perhaps in more ways than shots)"

Woah, woah, woah. Slow down, cowboy.

Are you new here or something? If it doesn't show up in shot differential, it doesn't exist. Period.

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#13 DoubleDIon
September 17 2013, 02:54AM
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@Iggy pop

I'll more than insinuate. I know it won't be popular, but Iginla completely ignored his defensive responsibilities for his final 2-3 seasons here. He was a pretty big liability defensively. He basically became a better, nicer version of Dany Heatley.

That said, I love Iginla and hate JBo. But there's no doubt in my mind that we'll miss JBo on the ice this year a lot more than we'll miss Iginla.

His final few years Iginla was more concerned about his stat line than he was about the overall success of the club.

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#14 Christian Roatis
September 16 2013, 11:36AM
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I'm in the keep him if he's ready, send him if he's not camp. Makes the most sense IMO.

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#15 Sean Bennett
September 16 2013, 12:23PM
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I don't really buy the ELC argument when a player like Monahan is relatively over-aged for his draft crop. For all intents and purposes, he will be playing the entire season as a 19 year old, and already has 3 seasons of junior under his belt. Hence, he will be 22 once his new contract kicks in, which is pretty average for top-ten forward picks. Secondly, I am very skeptical that 4 years in junior will somehow accelerate his development curve or make him a better player in the long run.

If someone made the same remark about Mackinnon or Drouin or others with late-birthdates, I would probably concur, but not in Monahan's case.

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#16 BitGeek
September 16 2013, 12:50PM
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Loved the "Rock Stew" metaphor.

Good reading once again. Plus I love reading the comments for the alternate viewpoints too.

I definitely agree on the points made about toughness for toughness sake. If a guy isn't skilled at something else beyond being a face puncher, then he's just taking minutes away from a contributor.

I'm not sold either way on keeping Monahan in the minors though.

I understand the value from saving his ELC years but I also get the potential risk of a player holding out for more if they're held back too long.

Plus like many people have stated already, these players are people and it helps to have an organization that treats them as such (beyond their strict monetary value). It certainly might influence someone like Gaudreau to stick around or leave based on how they treat assets like Monahan.

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#17 icedawg_42
September 16 2013, 11:52AM
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@Parallex

If he proves he deserves to be here (and I'm not saying he has - or even that I know how that's defined) and gets sent back to junior just because, business...what does that say about "Meritocracy" - what does that do to his confidence or his trust in the org?

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#18 kittensandcookies
September 16 2013, 07:05PM
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I'm just happy we have some prospects that actually seem to have some real potential so that questions about them playing in the NHL aren't just fantasy.

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#19 iggy pop
September 16 2013, 07:55PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

RE: the game against Ottawa tonight.

OTT just scored short-handed on Berra. Not stoked on that. The Flames just picked up from last season it seems.

Jarmoe has 2 goals for Boston tonight. He's playing with Lucic and Krug. I will be very disappointed if he ends up having a 35-40 goal season. We'll know then that he bombed it in Calgary just to be cut loose.

Yeah like he did with the Penguins too... All he ever wanted was to play with the Bruins right... Give up on the iggy bashing already. Done more for calgary and the flames than anyone on this board ever will... sheesh

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#20 Iggy pop
September 16 2013, 09:32PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

Boo hoo, we get it, Iginla was your man god. Get over yourself. Don't put words in my mouth.

Are you saying that I'm not allowed to have an opinion until I make millions of dollars and give it all to the City of Calgary? How about I just do things like show up to flood-damaged areas, help people clean their houses, and donate food/clothing/other goods? Or perhaps I could list off a bunch of other volunteering I've done for various groups in the city.

I've had all sorts of praise for him and I wear my Iginla jersey proudly. He looks good playing with Lucic and Krug, and he scored 2 goals. I'm going to be disappointed if he plays awesome this season, because I would prefer him to do that on the Flames.

Buddy you insinuated that Iginila threw in the towel on the flames... Read your post again incase you don't remember. Say something like that and you are bound to get called on it. You lost this one fire better luck next time. And thanks for volunteering:)

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#21 the-wolf
September 17 2013, 10:48AM
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This whole Monahan debate is ridiculous. The guy is intended to be a top 2 center at the NHL level. Can he accomplish that this season? Highly doubtful. So unless he shows in 9 games that he can keep his head above water in all 3 zones, handle the physical and mental grind and look he can definitely put up a minimum of 40 points, send him down.

Monahan still needs to get stronger and faster and play tons of minutes in all situations. First pp & pk units, first/last minutes of each period, etc. That's where development comes from, not from being fed to the wolves at 18. The guy is not Crosby. Development comes from playing a lot in all situations, not 3rd line minutes and being sheltered against grown men.

"His mind." What a joke. Btw, I've known 2 extremely gifted academics in my time and both of them went to public schools and in both cases it didn't hold them back in any way whatsoever. You know, because they're brilliant. Instead, it allowed them to mature properly and not become self-entitled snots.

People are such hypocrites. I've read a thousand posts from the exact same people pining for Monahan to stay up this season who have launched a ton of vitriol at the Oilers for bringing up RNH and others too soon. Insult after insult about managing the cap and ELCs, but now that the shoe is on the other foot they go all fanboy.

And being a fanboy is the only argument for keeping Monahan up. Play him against his peers, let him dominate, build his confidence, gain experience on the international stage, get stronger, apply what he's learned over the summer, hopefully experience what it's like to be a winner instead of a loser on the Flames AND save a year on the ELC.

End of story.

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#22 coachedpotatoe
September 16 2013, 11:16AM
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Grit, toughness do not always translate into fights. Many great player in the past and in the present have had toughness. I believe that grit and toughness are intangibles that can make a player great. I'm not one for the staged fight and when those occur I change the channel, but when a trues emotional fight occurs as part of the game I can live with that.

Monahan is playing well and the Flames are giving him plenty of opportunity to prove himself. Like you I believe he should go back after his 9 game window. Based upon his play I wonder if Poirier may get n extended look as well. One of teh additional reasons for sending Monahan back down to Juniors is that the Flames need to give the college centers a longer look as well as Granlund. It's clear that Monahan is above them at this time but in tear of a rebuild you really need to access your prospects, keeping him here past nine games would limit this process.

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#23 Parallex
September 16 2013, 11:57AM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

That was pretty much my question to Kent - or anyone who has an opinion. What is the criteria to decide if he's ready. Is, Monahan having, as Kent said above "a strong camp" enough?

My criteria would be thus...

A: Is he a fully formed player (i.e. is there nothing for him to learn at the CHL level)? B: Would the minutes he'd be playing in the NHL (Relative to the minutes he'd have in the CHL) be a detriment to his development?

If the answers are not "Yes" to the first and "No" to the second I save myself a cheap year on the contract and return him to the 67's. Considering that to reach the criteria for "A" as I view it you have to be a Crosby/#1 overall type talent (Elite of the Elite) I would send nearly all guys drafted back to their respective feeder leagues.

So no merely a "strong" camp is not enough. He'd need to demonstate that returning him to the CHL would actually be a detriment to his career (and thus future worth to the Flames).

I'm very strongly against putting someone on the team just so that some fans can internally go "Yay Youth!" when the potential cost is a lowered future probability of all fans going "Yay Cup!".

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#24 icedawg_42
September 16 2013, 12:01PM
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@Parallex

Good points - For me - the only way he's going to learn any more at the CHL level, is if he's traded to a legit league contender, with potential to play for the mem cup.

in other words...sending him specifically to the '67's isn't going to do much for him (IMO)

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#25 Parallex
September 16 2013, 12:48PM
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@DoubleDIon

They wouldn't be sending him back to save 500K... they'd be sending him back to save 5-6M. If you can save 5/6M on a Elite player that's the difference between having average depth and amazing depth for however long you can do it. Sean Monahan is not a perfect player. There are things he can do better and they are things he can work on at the CHL level.

Like it or not hockey is a business and the smart business decision is almost certainly to keep him in Junior at least one more year. Even you basically acknowledge that when you say "If he's clearly better than other top 9 options"... there are 12 forward positions (13 if you count the spare) so clearly you think that it's acceptable to hold him back if he beats out portions of the competition. So then really the only real difference between us isn't a question of principle it's a question of scale.

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#26 Purple Hazze
September 16 2013, 01:42PM
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Having a cheap Monahan in 16-17 vs a Monahan making $4-$5 million that season is going to have zero effect on the competitiveness of the team that year. First off, the cap will continue to rise and will probably be sitting around $75million that season. Secondly, name me one team where the cap has hindered a teams ability to remain competitive. You could make a case for the Blackhawks of 09-10 but the only reason they ran into cap problems was because of the $8million a year they handed out to a useless Brian Campbell, if they didn't have him that team they would have been kept together. Its those types of deals that hurt a teams cap situation, not burning up ELC years.

Every team since the cap started has found ways to remain under it without having to gut the core, as an example, we could simply dump Wideman's contract that year on a team trying to reach the floor etc.

Monahan's contract status should not be the reason he gets sent back, if he deserves to stay with his level of play, keep him up, if he's not up to the level of play send him back. That should truly be the only criteria used in this decision.

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#27 ChinookArch
September 16 2013, 04:25PM
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@thymebalm

"Can you name 4 better centers playing for the Flames? I can name two."

I expect Corbin Knight will be better if not the same.

Fighting for 3rd or 4th line minutes will not do him any good, playing will. In my view, many young players are ruined by clubs rushing them into the NHL.

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#28 Tenbrucelees
September 16 2013, 04:28PM
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Instead of thinking about a player who has grit and doesn't offer much else, consider the reverse when a player and the collective team do not have the ability to respond to physical play.

Remember the little ball of hate punching Daniel Sedin. For me that wasn't only a turning point in the game, it was arguably when the Canucks lost the cup. The entire team were humiliated by their lack of response. By their lack of grit if you will.

Therefore while I fully agree that grit, toughness or whatever you wish to call 'it' is a slippery and difficult element to quantify, ignoring it can have very profound effects, especially when looked at in a team wide context. .

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#29 Parallex
September 16 2013, 05:18PM
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I just think that if we're going to adapt a model I'd rather ours resemble Detroit (ripen and over-ripen prospects) over Edmonton (eat'um green).

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#30 jai kiran
September 16 2013, 05:53PM
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Parallex wrote:

Balderdash. Once a players in your system where they were drafted is irrevelant. Also: What piscera.infada said above. Monahan shouldn't get any special treatment at the expense of other prospects.

No. You develop the player according to what the players potential is. You may believe that Horak and Knight have the same potential as Monahan, but you would be close to alone in this.

If either Horak or Knight plays as 4th line center this year, plays 5 or 7 minutes a night every night then that helps them develop into regular useful bottom 6 NHL players. Because if those guys can eventually fill that role that's a win for the Flames.

If Monahan isn't playing significant minutes, you're damaging his ability to grow into a top 6 forward: which is the only role he can eventually fill that's a win for the Flames.

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#31 Pizzaman
September 16 2013, 06:07PM
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WOW Dropping Latin phrases into a discussion of grit followed by distinctions and clarification of the definition of grit (does not only equal fighting). If UofC wants to save their Philosophy program they should start at Flamesnation! Let me complicate by adding individual grit versus Team grit. Being tough to play against means skill, desire, speed And grit. My only Latin phrase is "Semper ubi sub ubi" which I believe is "non-sequitur".

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#32 piscera.infada
September 17 2013, 08:08AM
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Danger wrote:

Maybe Iggy did worry more about his personal stats than the success of the club the last few seasons - let's assume for a moment that this was intentional and not just natural decline with age. Would that have been so wrong? I'm not sure.

The club was fundamentally not good enough the last few years, and a defensively responsible Iggy wouldn't have been the difference between success and failure. He wasn't 26 and able to carry the team on his back anymore.

He was, on the other hand, still able to pot a decent number of points. So if he chose to focus his energy where he could make a difference (his stat line) instead of where he couldn't (the team's fortunes), I can't really fault him for that.

I would say it was more an issue of how the "team" became "Iginla", so not so much Iggy's fault - although yes, he mailed it in defensively. The problem was (at least in my eyes) that everything became about getting Iggy the puck. He was seen as the only guy on this team worthy or able of putting points up on the board. For example, you bring in Jokinen (twice) - when he first came here, the guy was a goal scorer, Sutter as much as said "he's here to help Iggy score". I think that's why you saw some of these moves fail. Instead of putting a team on the ice, it was "Iggy and the Dudes" (an awesome band name, come to think of it).

So no, you can't blame him for cherry-picking and taking needless defensive risk because a) he was told for almost a decade that if this team was going to score, it was on him, and b) he could no longer be responsible for carrying all the mail at his age.

I think as Flames fans we acknowledge all Iggy did for this city and organization, but it's still going to be hard to get over - especially because his decline (if you want to call it that) mirrored the team's decline.

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#33 DoubleDIon
September 17 2013, 12:09PM
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@the-wolf

To compare 6'2" 195 pound 19 year old Monahan with 6'0" 160 pound 18 year old RNH is silly. Monahan is built like Taylor Hall, not RNH. I had no problem with the Oilers keeping Hall as he was big enough and his game was rounded out.

Monahan is big enough and solid defensively. He's NHL ready as far as size and a two-way game are concerned.

I genuinely think anyone who says it makes you a "fanboy" to suggest that Monahan should stick with the big club if he earns it is pretty ignorant. Lots of guys like Monahan have developed just fine at the NHL level in a third line center role to begin with. Take a look at Bergeron, O'Reilly, Staal and Richards to name a few. They all have very similar attributes to Monahan and all have been up at the same age or younger than Monahan. Personally, I'd be delighted if Monahan became that type of player.

People who look at the Detroit model and laud it have never heard Ken Holland speak before. He's said he'd love to have 18/19 year olds who were good enough to step right in. The reason they develop the way they do is because you don't get those guys when you move your 1st rounder or pick 25th every year. They have to develop them because it's difficult to find guys late who can step in.

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#34 icedawg_42
September 16 2013, 11:24AM
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I left out my opinions on 'grit and toughness'...I know what it's like to play angry, and with a "burr in my saddle". It can give you a boost, but it can also make you forget what you're trying to accomplish...then again I'm nowhere near pro calibre.

EDIT: Better than Vintage_Flame though.

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#35 ChinookArch
September 16 2013, 12:53PM
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It makes no sense rushing an 18 year old into the NHL, and potentially ruining his development warming the bench waiting for 4th line minutes. Presently, Monahan is not better than either Backlund or Stajan, and likely no better than Knight. Read: NO BENEFIT to Monahan's development, and probably a detriment. He will undoubtably get top minutes in the OHL, and play on the national team with and against other top talents. Why rob him of the chance to improve?

The Flames will get a PASS this year from the fans precisely because the rebuild is on, so trying to sell Monohan as a saviour is premature at this point. In my view, the Flames can sell that dribble next season, or the one after that. Fans will continue to buy the product and occupy seats, and hopefully patience will embrace us all.

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#36 ChinookArch
September 16 2013, 04:34PM
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@Kevin R

Skinner earned and played top 6 minutes all season long, in his rookie year. Monahan will be a 4th liner behind Backlund, Stajan and Knight. Calgary isn't winning anything but a lottery pick this year. Let him develop with more playing time.

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#37 DoubleDIon
September 16 2013, 04:43PM
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@Parallex

Our 4th liners last year played 7:30 a game. Our third line center played 15+ or 17+ a night depending on whether you considered Stajan or Backlund the 3rd line center. So more than double the ice time. It's significant, not minor. He could probably play 40 minutes a game in Junior B, so really it come down to which league is he going to get better coaching, ice time and competition in. I think two of those elements are obvious wins at the NHL level. If he's good enough to play 15-17 minutes a night then I want his development to continue at the NHL level. If he's not, send him down to junior.

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#38 Baalzamon
September 16 2013, 09:20PM
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@FireOnIce

Krug is a dman... is it possible you're thinking of Krejci?

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#39 McRib
September 17 2013, 08:49AM
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Corbin Knight scored last night.... send Sean Monahan down to the OHL!! Hahaha. Joking aside, I noticed Corbin Knight multiple times last Saturday buzzing around the net and then he gets on the sheet last night. Game is really starting to come around for me. Not to mention he always looked very solid defensively even when he wasn't scoring in the prospect games. Call me crazy, but I wonder if his volunteer efforts in hometown High River took away from his on-ice offseason training focus this summer.... Because he keeps getting better and better the more he has been on the ice.

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#40 Parallex
September 16 2013, 11:33AM
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@oldtimehockey4

Nazim Kadri was held onto the exact amount of time that he needed to be held onto. He needed seasoning time in the AHL and if you need seasoning in the AHL then your not ready to play in the NHL in your sub-20yo years.

IMO. Not a counter (or at least not a good example of a counter) to needlessly burn a ELC year.

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#41 mslepp
September 16 2013, 11:43AM
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Bang on re: Monahan.

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#42 Derzie
September 16 2013, 11:51AM
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Some players are ready, some are not (see Nugent-Hopkins, R.). Numbers suggest a whole lot more are NOT ready. It's up to Flames staff to find a place where Monahan can grow and not stagnate but also not be pounded like the Nuge up north.

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#43 DoubleDIon
September 16 2013, 03:03PM
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@Parallex

The reason top 9 is the bar is because top 9 forwards play significant minutes and 4th liners don't. It's a development thing. I want our best prospects playing quality minutes at the highest level they're capable of playing quality minutes. Also, I still say it doesn't cost you anywhere close to 5-6 million. It's a pretty simple concept. If his QO is 2 million and a best case scenario is we have a Bergeron type player on our hands he gets 4.5 million. Meaning it costs you 2.5 million for one year MAX. Odds are very much against him being that good that soon too. In the most wildly optimistic scenario it's 2.5, not 5-6. Also to be fair, if he develops into Patrice Bergeron we would be ecstatic and have a franchise cornerstone to build with.

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#44 Jeff Lebowski
September 16 2013, 03:16PM
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Parallex wrote:

"it matters not if you win a fight, it matters that you are willing to compete that way"

Which means that in terms of comparative value it's worthless because in order for a fight to happen you require two participants. Meaning that any effect (however marginal or otherwise) gleaned is shared equally (if winning doesn't matter).

If people like the sideshow (are entertained by it) I'm happy for them but there is all sorts of evidence to suggest that there is little to be gained by it.

Why would the effect be shared equally? The impact is observed after the event. The point was how the fight makes other players play their games better by injecting 'willingness'.

I've never implied this distribution of willingness will be symmetrical and you would be hard pressed to show that it is.

Entertainment has nothing to do with it in my view.

A fight is like a PED for some. It may not show up in the winslosses but it's felt/observed.

Temporal effects etc etc.

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#45 Parallex
September 16 2013, 03:41PM
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@DoubleDIon

5 Minutes a night I figure. 4th liners of Jackman's ilk play 8-9 minutes a night and 3rd liners 13-14.

In the CHL he'll be playing probably 20-25M in all situations. He'll probably be served developmentally just as well if not better by playing in the CHL as he would the NHL.

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#46 SeanCharles
September 16 2013, 03:59PM
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Fighting is like a goal to get within one, like a bit hit, like a huge penalty kill, like a PP goal when you need it most.

Its something that shifts momentum in a game.

It most certainly injects emotion into teammates and in turn has on ice effects.

Fighting, and grit in general is a useful tool in hockey..

Grit doesnt mean we gotta have a bunch of guys who cant play the game. There are gritty superstars and gritty top 6 forwards and top 4 dman in the league.

Just because management wants to get grittier doesnt mean more fourth line players will be on the team.

Players like Galiardi, Cundari, Kanzig, Sieloff, Porier, Ferland, Agostino, Glencross and Gio are players that have grit in their game and they are good upside youngsters or our core vets.

Teams like LA, NYR, PHI, BOS, CHI all have gritty players up and down the lineup. They are some of the better teams in the league also.

Managements mandate to get bigger and grittier doeesnt mean they will compromise skill just to acheive it.

Skill and Grit are not two totally remote attributes in hockey. Players can have both..

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#47 Kevin R
September 16 2013, 04:11PM
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Keep seeing this argument that I think is totally pointless but seems to be brought up all the time. "Grit"! Well maybe if everyone in the Hockey World can agree to the true definition of "grit" we might one day come up with a consensus & the bean counters at Flames Nation can find a way to incorporate a value for it in their player analyses. Good luck with that.A Flames player who "Grit" was his middle name Ole Stefan Yelle. He didn't fight, he won faceoffs, he checked opposing players to the ground, he went into the dirty areas & he scored some pretty greasey goals. Now I remember another Flames player that one could categorize as "One Dimensional" Huselius, we used to call him pussylius. He was strictly an offensive player but like Don Cherry would say, he can walk into the corner with eggs in his uniform & come without breaking an egg.

I'm tired of people calling McGratten a Grit player. He's one dimensional, he pounds faces, he plays maybe 5 minutes a game & he's paid accordingly. Most NHL teams have this kind of player/component to their game. Lucic, is the bar of "grit", he's a beast. He'll fight a Mgratten & maybe win & he'll play powerplay & chances are he'll be in your top 4-5 scoring leaders. Just saying we need to move on with this debate & maybe define it better so most agree.

Monohan, I am in the camp if the kid plays well, contributes & carry's himself well, let him play. ELC's should have no bearing on that decision. So Carolina shouldn't have let Skinner stay when he was 19 & win the Calder trophy 2-3 years ago? Who can judge whether a kid is going to be elite or not if you don't let him play at the pro level. If Monohan were to be a Calder finalist, would that be such a bad thing? Is that bad for his development? Like Jerry Doucette would say, if he proves himself, well "Mamma Let Him Play"

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#48 SeanCharles
September 16 2013, 04:18PM
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On Monahan:

If he is good enough to play 3rd line mins in the NHL and succeed then he deserves to be here.

What kind of message does that send to the prospects?

From the start of the 'rebuild' they have said opportunity is there for unestablished guys to earn spots.

As bad as our drafting was in the past, some of the problem was we never gave our prospects enough ample opportunity to make the big club.

This year we have spots available and I think young players who are NHL ready should not be denied the opportunity to showcase their talents.

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#49 jai kiran
September 16 2013, 04:24PM
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Parallex wrote:

But it doesn't (shift momentum in a game). League wide scoring rates in the aftermath of a fight don't vary to a significant degree.

Think about it... if a fight could change the momentum of a game (beyond some measure of random variation) why would the member of the team that already had momentum agree to engage in one? It doesn't make any sense for him to do that.

Why? Because he's been goaded into it. Because he thinks he'll look gutless if he doesn't. Because he's right into the moment and not thinking about logic and consequence.

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#50 Jeff Lebowski
September 16 2013, 05:07PM
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Because... "it matters not if you win a fight, it matters that you are willing to compete that way"... if willingness to compete that way is all that's required then by the nature of two participants in the fight would imply that both teams get "what matters".

Sure. But if I'm understanding you correctly, it means both teams get it 50/50. What about 60/40 (or any other unsymmetrical ratio) ? If you can accept that then is it fair to say there can be an advantage gained?

Why would an opponent give you the opportunity to gain an advantage? They don't always do (guys turn down fights all the time) and it's an emotional and intense game.

I understand that in terms of the outcomes of games, something more predictive would be goals so therefore shots. Once a goal is scored it's put on the board and never comes off. The effect is felt throughout the entire game after.

Fights and importantly the after effects, are felt for short moments in indirect areas. Take for example, beating out an icing after a fight that you wouldn't have if the fight never happened. You changed the outcome because of that willingness advantage or injection. After beating out the icing you need to make a bunch of other plays to get a shot and goal. What do you track to explain why the goal happened, the shot or the beating the icing (after effect of fight)?

I think it's difficult to 'see' in the data because of how temporal the effects are in order to make enough successive plays to change momentum. It doesn't change momentum on it's own always but it can if a team capitalizes on the advantage. You then look less at the fight after effects and more on what gets capitalized (ultimately shots). You don't always score so it never gets immortalized on the scoreboard.

Retrospectively the new context the fight produced is lost. You don't remember the beat icing (and all the other plays), you remember the shot.

The other team wants to win too so there are constant battles for momentum that can completely destroy any advantage gained from a fight. However saying a fight is always a wash is not understanding the nuance of what unfolds in a game. I very humbly state this because I am not an expert and could very well be wrong but to me stats don't describe the moment to moment nuance, they describe aggregates over time.

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