(In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)
5 – “Is Shane Doan a Hall of Famer?”
I honestly didn’t think we’d have to have this sort of a conversation but here we are.
The idea that Shane Doan, who despite playing more than 1,500 games in the NHL never got to 1,000 career points, could even remotely be included in the Hockey Hall of Fame — the big one, not the “Greater Phoenix Hockey Hall of Fame,” which, by all means include him there — is preposterous on its face.
The argument boils down to this one issue: He was nice to media people.
That’s it. Anyone in this business has a story about a time Shane Doan gave them a great quote about some subject or another, and that’s great. But that’s also why they think a guy whose career points per game is the same as Tyler Bozak’s belongs to be considered one of the like 300 greatest players in the history of the sport.
Really, it’s an attendance record. It’s the same reason Cal Ripken, Jr., is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, except at least Cal Ripken won two MVP awards; Shane Doan literally never even earned a vote for the Hart. At no point in his entire career did a single writer anywhere in the hockey world say, “I think he was one of the top five players in the league this year.” And maybe the season he had 78 points, you make the argument that he should have been there, but okay, he had MAYBE one season of being MAYBE the fifth-best player in the league.
To be fair, only 17 players in NHL history have played 1,500-plus games, so that’s something. But Doan’s career points per game are only ahead of Chris Chelios and Scott Stevens, and honestly, not even by that much. Dave Andreychuk, who they won’t let into the Hall of Fame despite his having scored the 14th-most goals in NHL history, scored an extra fifth of a point per game. Doan, for the record, has the same number of goals as Paul Kariya… in 550 more games. He also has 17 fewer points overall.
And the attendance thing, I mean, I guess there’s a nobility in suffering in through all those rotten years in front of 2,000 people, just getting whaled on every night. Doan only ever played in 49 playoff games in Phoenix. They won two rounds in more than two decades. But also: Shorts and golf every day, cashing big checks, only occasionally being coached by Wayne Gretzky.
The media doesn’t need to go around stumping for his Hall of Fame candidacy on top of everything else; they already spent the last 10 years looking the other way every time he elbowed someone in the chin or went knee-to-knee.
But putting him in the Hall of Fame? Yeah, he’s just not that kind of player.
4 – Being extremely racist
Two separate times in the last week I saw people come out and say, “Actually, uh, Chicago’s logo is not racist and in fact it’s honoring indigenous peoples. Learn the history.” This is the kind of thing dumbass white people say right before they get on Facebook to complain about reverse racism and affirmative action.
The logo is racist as hell. It needs to go. It needed to go a long time ago. Anyone who says otherwise has a weird ulterior motive that they would say it’s not about racism but it’s about tradition and so on, and boy where have we heard that before in the past couple of months?
3 – Putting yourself out there
Hey listen I probably like the Jets more than most people in the broader hockey world. I like the talent level they bring to the table throughout the lineup.
But I have some really bad news for Blake Wheeler, who hit the Winnipeg papers last week saying, “It’s gotta be this year, it just has to be,” for the Jets making the playoffs. I mean, you could have said that almost any time in the past few years, especially once it became clear that Ondrej Pavelec wasn’t The Guy in net any more.
This team is continually sunk by goaltending problems and a lack of defensive structure that, if we’re being honest, it shouldn’t have. The Jets seem perpetually plagued by low save percentages, yes. Steve Mason might (or might not) be able to fix that. But they’re often in the lower half of the league in terms of allowing shots and scoring chances, and they always take too many penalties.
I’m not sure how you fix that. Is it a systems thing? Is it personnel? It’s probably both, right? But all the evidence that Paul Maurice’s team save percentage is consistently below the league average, almost every year, that’s got to be a big concern, right?
Point is, with the talent level the Jets have, yeah, they should make the playoffs. That was also true last year. They didn’t, in part because I don’t think their coach is very good, but also: That division is toooooooough.
Look at the Central, where do you reasonably slot the Jets? Even if literally everything goes right; higher save percentage, fewer penalties, etc. Are they better than Nashville or Minnesota? Doesn’t seem like it. Are they better than Dallas, Chicago, or St. Louis? In theory, they could be. The only team they’re definitively better than is Colorado, but that’s not hard to do. It’s a seven-team division in which a maximum of five can make the playoffs. You have to think they’re in the No. 5-6 range unless PDO rears its head (as it did the one time they made the postseason and immediately got swept).
It’s a razor’s edge between whether this team puts anything resembling a playoff run together, or whether they finish with 80-something points again.
Nice to think about, sure, and maybe things are different if they’re in the Pacific. But they’re not. So that’s just tough to overcome.
2 – Twisting in the wind
Only Colorado could screw up having a player on the trading block for like two years straight and still not trading him. Even Columbus eventually pulled the trigger on a Rick Nash trade. I mean, it didn’t work out for them, like at all, but y’know.
How has it gotten to this point? Duchene has been openly discussed as a trade target for, what, two years? Three? Something like that. Right after things went sideways with Patrick Roy, the rumors started, but they seemed to surround both Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly. Then O’Reilly got traded (and even that took too long to happen), then off we went.
Just trade the guy already. Joe Sakic is looking for fair value? Then don’t trade him, because that’s not how any of this “trading a good player” stuff works.
The thing is, either trade him or don’t trade him. This “We’re gonna trade him at some point” stuff is getting silly. There’s not much else to say about it other than this is the exact sort of thing you’d expect from the Colorado Avalanche, specifically.
1 – September
Good lord, training camps open in eight days. I’m ready.
(Not ranked this week: Not signing Jagr.
Oh hey, training camps open in eight days. You’d think someone would have already signed a guy who was top-25 in his position at scoring last season. Weird.)
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)