The Anti-Cooke

Calgary Flames v Ottawa Senators

You know, when I found out the NHL wasn’t going to suspend Matt Cooke for his hit on Marc Savard, it bugged me but didn’t surprise me. It just drove home how much I, and so many others, can’t deal with guys who play the game like he does. It’s too bad, because I’ve always felt Cooke brings something to a hockey team, but he’s a dirtbag, plain and simple, which de-values any of the good he does. But the whole thing also made me realize how much I appreciated players like Calgary’s Jamal Mayers.

Think of the things Cooke does well. He’s a strong, tenacious guy on the forecheck. He’s physical in the corners and will much it up along the boards. He puts forth a strong effort in the two-way game. His motor is always running. That’s all true…and there are other players that are in his same mold. I put Mayers in that ilk. But there’s a difference. Guys like Mayers will drop the gloves and be accountable for their actions on the ice. Cooke will not.

This is less of a "Cooke’s gutless" rant than a respectful look at guys who bring a lot to the game without being despised like that. There are others like Mayers in the league, no question. But from a Flames perspective, I love having that guy on the team. I think he fits real well in his role; he’s not the biggest offensive threat, nor is he the best player in his own zone. But what he is, is a guy who is going to do what he can to the best of his ability every shift. At least he has since joining the Flames. Mayers plays around nine minutes each game, maybe a little more. During that time you can count on him to be physical, continue or start a cycle, and not hurt you away from the puck. He adds something to a team and to a game with all those aspects.

Where he differs from, say, Cooke, is that he’s tough as nails. Mayers dropped the gloves twice in a game against New Jersey, against a similarly tough David Clarkson (who I’d take on my team any day). He may not have won the fights handily or anything like that, but Mayers is the type of guy you can count on to stick up for teammates, set a tone physically, and maybe lead others when it comes to his work ethic. In his time with the Flames, Mayers has dropped the gloves five times, and non of them fall in the "staged fight" category.

Who knows, maybe a change of scenery from Toronto to Calgary has changed the way he’s playing, because I know that when the deal was made, there were a lot of "Mayers is a bum, he can’t play" emails that I received. And who knows, it may not be something that carries over in the final 16 games. But in the 11 games I’ve seen of Jamal Mayers in a Flames jersey, I’ve been a big, big fan.

  • I liked Willis' breakdown of how to "fix" the leafs earlier this year (keep in mind people, this is the LEAFS)

    http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2009/11/24/fixing-the-toronto-maple-leafs/

    Some of the noteworthy nuggets:

    "Jamal Mayers leads the team with 4.4 penalties taken for every 60 minutes of ice-time; only one player in the league with more than five games played takes penalties more often. Mayers has yet to draw a single penalty……….Given the Leafs’ current penalty-kill, that makes those two responsible for three extra goals against just by virtue of their minor penalties. For fourth-liners, that’s a lot."

    "reality is that if this team wasn’t so busy taking stupid penalties they’d be in a better position than they are. Orr and Mayers in particular should be tossed off the team as soon as possible"

    "the Leafs are all either clustered around a middling PK mark or on the high end of the scale. Those two exceptions are Wayne Primeau and Jamal Mayers, with the PK unit allowing ten and eight goals more (respectively) for every 60 minutes with those players. If we replace those minutes with Toronto’s most average penalty-killer, Rickard Wallin, it saves the team five goals against and bumps the penalty-kill up 12 spots, to 18th in the NHL. It’s probably also worth noting that Mayers was the worst forward on Toronto’s PK unit last season too (although Primeau fared well in Calgary)."

    "Dump Jamal Mayers for whatever the team can get (up to and including “nothing”)"

    I guess that was with his time in Toronto, and Pat mentioned how the change of scenery might have done him well. But still, Mayers has terrible underlying numbers (dead last on the team in relative corsi, takes 3x as many penalties as he draws (a terrible ratio for a forward), and easiest OPST of the regular forwards).

    Clearly, Mayers is helping this team lose a lot more then win, so it's time to send his ass to the pressbox in favor of Dawes!

    • Ha, no worries man. The point I was trying to make was that Mayers>Cooke. I've liked Mayers a lot, but lets be honest, he's 35 years old and isn't as effective as he was in the playoff years in St. Louis.

      But, I still think he has SOME value…you'll notice I didn't talk about re-signing the guy, because I think it's far too early to be saying that should happen.

  • Actually, I personally don't have any complaints about Mayers during his time in Calgary. He's better than McGrattan and he's kept the Grats in the press box, so he's a net positive thus far.

    If he was signed through next year, I'd be more concerned. But he's played well enough thus far for me.

  • Thing is, as long as the Flames keep winning, Jamal will be out there, so I'd rather the Flames keep winning with him instead of losing and putting Dawes in. Man, Dawes must feel like sh-t right now

  • Yeah Jamal may prove to have some value. Maybe he is re-energized on the Flames. Who knows.
    At the end of the day, a lot of hope rests on his shoulders… Or should I say, fists. Without Brandon Prust, the torch has been passed to Jamal to fight Rick Rypien in Vancouver on Sunday. I hope he can beat the tar out of the cousin of the only Canadian to win Super Bowl MVP. Mark Rypien wasn't even that good, he just lucked out playing behind the Hogs offensive line. I mean, I'm a blog reader in my mom's basement and I bet I could win a Super Bowl behind Russ Grimm and co. Let's pray that Jamal can personify Warren Moon and Rick Rypien plays the role of Moon's wife. A severe beatdown is in order.

  • madisonjanine

    I agree. I just don't understand why we got him to begin with when Prust was that kind of a player and a hell of a lot younger. Getting Mayers pushed Prust out of the line up and sadly made him expendable. I thought that Prust was a guy that had quite a bit of skill and would stand up for himself and his teammates. Sure Mayers does this too but he isn't has good and he's not getting any better. Prust was. At least in my opinion

  • madisonjanine

    Rod Blog makes a great point in identifying the point that these are leafs fans criticizing Mayers. But Stein how do you feel of Mayers as Prusts replacement? Because he seemingly is just that. Dyou think he was picked over the Prusty cage simply because of his veteran presence? I really liked prust.

    • I think it's a real good point actually…because I think the acquisition of Mayers probably made Prust expendable.

      For me, I feel that Mayers adds more hockey-wise than Prust does. He works a cycle better and can fit in with linemates a little more.

      That's not to devalue Prust, because he added a lot of energy and was younger, so who's to say he couldn't have progressed to a place where he could do similar things?

      So, right NOW as a replacement, I don't mind it. But I guess, down the road, it may not be as good.