Tuesday, April 19, 2011

End of Year wrapup

It has been a while since anything's gone on here at Grading Dater. With the Rockies hot out of the gate, and the Avs just going through the motions as the season mercifully ended, there just wasn't a lot of motivation to follow the Avalanche, or the Avalanche's media coverage for that matter. Sorry for the lag, but with Dater now starting his Player Grades, there may be a bit more to talk about before going on permanent summer vacation.

Here I'm just playing a bit of catch-up. Enjoy!


Apparently tired of the criticism of his shallow and blatantly unfactual draft coverage, Dater just goes with a data dump with this blog entry. It's nearly impossible to read, but at least he finally, finally got the mechanics of the draft correct, and actually mentioned all the top draft prospects and not just the two or three he heard around the water cooler. As we know, the Devils won the draft lottery, meaning that Edmonton will get the first pick and the Avs will get the second pick. Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

All Things Avs Blog: Dater gets with the program re: the draft


After three or four previous blog entries dealing with the draft, varying from "poorly researched" to "just plain stupid," Dater finally decides to put on his reporter pants, and offers a decent overview of the upcoming entry draft, and how the Avalanche's  nearly-guaranteed top-3 pick can best be used to address their copious needs.

A few weeks ago, Dater blogged that the Avs had only two choices, really: the Swedes Larsson or Landeskog. This time, however, he has finally gotten around to doing some research, and includes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the list of top-ranked picks. Better very, very late than never, I suppose. Although we disagree on who the Avs should pick (Dater likes Landeskog, I think Larsson), I made many of the points in my March 18th blog that Dater makes here on April 1. Not that I'm going out of my way to point that out, or anything.

Props to Dater for doing his homework before posting this time. I don't expect the same level of analysis in the blog that I would in an article, so for what it is, this one gets a good grade.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

All Things Avs blog: Dater wants to see emotion out there, damnit!


In this blog entry, Adrian Dater offers his thoughts after another Avs loss, this one to the playoff-bound Nashville Predators. Dater mentions that Erik Johnson was upset after the game, and then states that he believes that the team needs a lot more angry guys playing angrily.

While I think it's great that Johnson was pissed off after the game, Dater doesn't seem to realize that not everybody is like that. There was a movie a few years ago, a chick flick disguised as a baseball movie, which worked in that it tricked me into watching nearly the entire thing (it had Drew Barrymore in it, for chrissake, but it still managed to get me). It wasn't bad, but I can't remember the name. Fever Pitch, maybe? Anyway, this Red Sox fan was living and dying with the team, like they do, and after a particularly tough BoSox loss they guy was just heartbroken, fuming and furious. And what did he see that night? Three members of the Red Sox, eating dinner after the game, laughing and having a good time as if the loss was no big deal at all.

The fan was upset and pretty much offended at this, but eventually it led to a bit of an epiphany for the guy about priorities, and he ended up running out onto the field in the middle of a game to give Drew a grope in front of everybody before Pedro told them to get a room. I can't really remember how it ended, to be honest, so I just made that last bit up, but it's probably a pretty safe bet.

Ranting Homer? Yeah, that sums it up nicely.
Dater needs to learn this: it's the fan's job to get all emotional about this game. The players see it differently, because they're not fans... and it isn't Dater's place (or ours) to question their desire to win just based on their demeanor after the game. Dater here is writing like a fan, not a journalist... which is perhaps his biggest fault (among many).

Ironically, Dater steps into journalist mode long enough to call out Cody Mcleod for taking a stupid penalty that hurt his team. The irony there, of course, is that McLeod's angry, hit-anything-that-moves attitude on the ice is pretty much exactly what Dater just said the team "needs A LOT more of." Make up your mind, Dater... you want them playing angry and with plenty of emotion, but when they do, you criticize the inevitable result? Doesn't sound like a very clear line of thinking to me.

Dater goes on to criticize management for trading away Shattenkirk and Stewart in the trade that brought Erik Johnson to the Avs... but wait, isn't Johnson the very same player that not three paragraphs earlier, Dater said was bringing exactly the right attitude to the team? Oh, I'm so confused...

He goes on to touch on just about every hot topic he can think of: the Anderson trade (shock!), the coaching, the ownership, Jay McClement... since when is a 4th-line center at the heart of a team's problems? Dater has himself so twisted around here, it's rather funny.

Basically, this is just another of Dater's fuming, unfocused complaints about the team not having enough fire and focus out there. Blogs like this occur about once every three losses, and they rarely say anything that the previous 50 did not. It's another cliche-filled rant about anything and everything, designed just to entice readers to click on the blog, without any real attempt to report, educate, debate, or analyze.

Dater substitutes cliches for knowledge of the game... which is why we get so many of them. It's just a bit uncommon for him to shoot as many holes in the bottom of his boat in such a short time as he does in this blog entry.


All Things Avs blog: Raymond Bourque, we hardly knew ye


In this blog entry, Adrian Dater takes the opportunity to reminisce about Raymond Bourque's long and distinguished career with the Colorado Avalanche. To be fair, Dater has often stated that he grew up a Bruins fan, so it's no wonder he has fond memories of Bourque. All Avs fans do, too.

Avs superstar defenseman Ray Bourque in a previous life.
Joe Sakic touching the Cup only just long enough to hand it over to Bourque is one of the best post-Cup moments I've ever seen. Yeah, he was a rental, but he was a rental for all the right reasons: he wanted (and probably deserved) to go out a winner, and the Avs needed the skill and presence he was known for to bring them together as a championship team.

My only Avs-related regret regarding Bourque is that the team decided to retire his number. A team doesn't retire a guys' number because he happened to be a great player who wore their jersey. A guy gets his number retired when he embodies what a team was for years and years. Raymond Bourque embodied the Bruins for years, and his number is retired in Boston for a reason. Having his number retired in Colorado, after just over 100 games with the team, is just embarrassing... a desperate attempt by a team with very little history of their own to associate themselves with a great career.

The Avs have enough great careers to honor that they should have left Bourque's honors to Boston. It's embarrassing that Borque's number is retired in two NHL cities, but Peter Stastny's and Michel Goulet's numbers are retired in none. Embarrassing.

But, that's just me going off on a tangent, forgetting about the blog itself for a bit. Apologies! As far as this blog is concerned, I don't have a big problem with it. While I don't care for a reporter placing his or her personal feelings about a player so prominently within his or her writing -- Dater's lovefest with Forsberg earlier this season is a good example of how badly things can get when a journalist is allowed to gush about his or her personal feelings -- when it's a retired player, I think the standard there can be relaxed quite a bit. And what retired player's story brings a smile to more people's faces than Bourque's?


All Things Avs blog: trade for a goalie?


In this blog entry, Adrian Dater floats the idea that the Avalanche should trade their upcoming draft pick for a goalie. One could argue, I suppose, that Dater is only "asking questions," but it's just a phenomenally stupid question to begin with.

Any time Dater starts talking about goaltending is a good time to ignore him entirely and go do something productive with your day. Because of his often-and proudly-stated biases involving Avalanche goaltending, his opinion is about as unobjective as it gets... and because those biases are the product of him not really understanding what makes a good (or a bad) goalie, his opinions on the matter are pretty much useless.

Dater starts by writing,

 OK, we all know the most glaring area of need going forward for the Burgundy and Blue is in net. Craig Anderson isn’t here to kick around anymore, and Peter Budaj and Brian Elliott have two of the highest goals-against averages in the entire NHL.

By beginning with "we all know..." Dater tries to present his opinion as the prevailing one. This is a common tactic used by high school debaters to convince the audience that everybody actually already agrees with the speaker. The problem is, however, that this supposed universal agreement Dater refers to simply does not exist. I'd argue that there are very, very few Avalanche observers who would say that goaltending is the primary concern for this team. Arguing that the Avs will never win the Cup with Budaj and Elliot in net is akin to arguing that I will never win the Indy 500 with the tires currently on my 4runner. Accurate, yes... but more than a bit off the point.

The "glaring area of need" for this team is: talent, health, and experience at pretty much every spot in the roster. Dater's assertion right of the bat that A) the team really needs a goalie, and B) that everybody already agrees with (A), is wrong on both counts.

Of course, Dater manages to work his tired opinion about Craig Anderson into this piece, as well as remarking that Budaj and Elliot have terrible numbers. Well, the reason they have terrible numbers could very well be that they play for the Avalanche... so again, the argument that they need a better goalie is kind of moot. They need a better team. A better goalie would be a band-aid on a head wound.

Dater then asks if the Avs should trade their upcoming pick - almost certain to be a top-three pick - for a goalie or goalie prospect. I suppose that just about any question is worth asking... but does that mean that any question is worth asking when you are the one print journalist assigned to the team?

If these Avs were contenders and they had the same mediocre goaltending they do now, then sure... trading a high pick for a goalie who could help them get over the hump might not be a bad idea. But the Avs are not contenders: they're rebuilding, they need serious help both defensively (not necessarily at defense, but with defensive-minded players, both D and forwards) and on offense, where their high-scoring team has ground to a halt. They've had a lot of injuries, and have had to fill spots with AHL-level talent, because there is not a lot of NHL-ready talent in the Avs system just waiting in the wings for their chance. They can address any number of these issues through this draft: the top three pick will get them a big, fast defenseman; a quick, high-scoring center; or a big, hard-hitting wing... all three areas in which the need is far more obvious and immediate than goaltender.

In short, not only is goaltender not the Avs' "most glaring area of need," but trading away their first-round pick in a draft with some nearly-NHL-ready talent to get a goalie would be one of the worst things the team could do for its future. One might expect some 13-year-old fan on the internet to suggest such a move, but to see the Avs' beat writer suggest it is just baffling, frankly.

Dater ends this experiment in stupidity by stating that the "best of all worlds" would be to sign Tomas Vokoun to a contract and let him come in here and suck while this team gets better. The problem with that, though, is that Vokoun is likely to be one of the most coveted free agents this offseason... why would he come to the dreadful Avalanche, and why would the Avs want to pay what it will take to sign him just to rise from "dreadful" to "average" for a couple years?

This blog is just a waste: a dumb suggestion based on a bad assumption that Dater treats as if it were gospel simply because it's his idea.