Monday, August 20, 2007

A Hocky Writer Makes a Mistake, part 2

I'm back, in my ongoing discussion who's main intention is to figure out, what the heck hockey writers are thinking. Last time, I discussed Adam Proteau's column on Hockey News. The column was well written, there was just a fundamental flaw in one of the basic ideas in it. Cést la víe. Today I'm looking at Offseason grades handed out by Sports's Allan Muir. Normally I like Allan Muir's column. He doesn't write about the widest variety of topics, but he always seems to be pretty knowledgeable. I have no problem to sticking to what you know.

Recently, Allan Muir did his end of summer recap for the Southeast Division, and had the following comments about the Caps,
GM George McPhee had ample cap space. His primary goal: an elite center for Alexander Ovechkin. In Nylander, the Caps now have a slick, pass-first pivot capable of maximizing the superstar winger's potential. With the crafty Kozlov and 2006 top pick Nicklas Backstrom also on board, the Caps' top six can match firepower with almost any team in the East. There are issues on the backline, despite the addition of Poti, who can be Clouseau-esque in his own zone, but he's the finest Caps puck-mover since Sergei Gonchar. His ability to eat minutes will reduce Brian Pothier's workload and make Pothier more effective. The rest of this young group would benefit from a stabilizing physical presence. McPhee also left himself open to criticism by failing to get Ovechkin signed to an extension. The Caps can also use a more reliable backup for goalie Olaf Kolzig, who is 37, coming off another injury-shortened season and more than a bit past his best-by date. Brent Johnson is a good guy in the room, but he's unreliable. Yet, this is a much more talented group. If the Caps maintain their work ethic of last season under coach Glen Hanlon, they should be in the hunt right up to the end.

Let's break this down point by point:
1. The Caps got Ovechkin a real center. That is 100% correct, and was the easiest point to make.

2. The additions of Backstrom and Kozlov give the Caps a real top 6. Again, true. I'm not sure one can claim they can match any top 6, but hey, it's an opinion piece, I let those things slide.

3. There are issues on the backline. Poti will help the PP, and eat minutes. I think the Caps'defense is a bit underrated because they are so young, but what he's saying isn't anything out of the ordinary from what most of the hockey masses have been saying so far. This is a pretty color by numbers article to this point.

4. "McPhee also left himself open to criticism by failing to get Ovechkin signed to an extension." Wait, what? I want to understand this. Alexander Ovechkin is on the other side of the world. He has one year remaining on his contract before he is a restricted free agent, meaning the Caps can match any offer. Yet, because he didn't get signed, McPhee is open to criticism. Apparently Allan Muir believes overpaying for elite talent to the point of crippling the franchise in the future is the way to go these days. Should the Caps have signed Ovechkin by Carrier pigeon? If you want a list of teams with players who are going to have their contracts expire next year and have not been signed, simply write down every single team. There, you're done.

5. "Olie Kolzig is coming off another injury-shortened season." I'm sorry, when was the first? Actually let's back up. If you go to the top of the article, you'll noticed that the article was originally posted last Friday, and Modified on Monday. One of the things that changed was a correction of the spelling of Brent Johnson's name. The other thing that changed was that "injury-shortened" originally read "injury-plagued." Now, Olie didn't have an injury plagued year this year. He had one injury, and it was about a month, and it got better. He still finished 20th in the league. But he corrected the mistake.

Here's what I want to know: When was the first "Injury-shortened season?" Before this past season during which Kolzig missed a month due to a knee injury, he was top 10 in the league in both games played and in minutes every year since he won the Vezina. When you are in the top ten minutes in the whole league in minutes played, I don't think you can really call it an "injury-shortened season," can you?

Allan Muir tends to normally do a pretty decent job, but his research on this grade is lower than the grade he gave the Caps as we approach training camp.

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