Saturday, October 15, 2011

Avs Mailbag 10/12

Today Grading Dater will take a look at the Post's Avs Mailbag from October 12, 2011. The Mailbag is Adrian Dater's opportunity to show off what he knows about hockey... in many cases, it ends up being a "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt" sort of thing, but lets see how he does this time.

Bright Spots and Lingering Concerns

First up is a question about Stefan Elliott, and whether Dater thinks that he "is the answer to the Avs' lack of offensive defense this season."

Dater is a sportswriter who loves to give his opinion on things. Oddly, he seems to repeat his opinion more and more the less sense it makes... I have to wonder if he believes that the more something is in print, the more credibility it receives. He's already stated a few times that he believes Elliott should be on the Avs roster, and here he takes this opportunity to put that opinion out there once again, just in case we missed it the first three or four times. I will not, however, take this opportunity to explain why he's so wrong about it for the third or fourth time.

Part of the problem here is that it's just kind of a stupid question to begin with... at this point, the Avs had yet to play their third game, and they'd scored but one goal. It was quite a bit too early to decree that the Avs had a "lack of offensive defense;" hell, it was too early to decree much of anything about this team. So this is a case where Dater picked a dumb question that really didn't deserve to be answered, just to give him the excuse to float his opinion on Elliott out there again.

The next question asks Dater whether the team did enough to address the defensive and PK issues from last season.  In an answer that kind of (but not completely) contradicts his last answer (in which he said Elliott should have made the team), he says here that with the bigger and stronger additions, the defense "definitely looks better so far" and wisely remarks on the importance of Kyle Quincey's return. 

He doesn't really answer the question on whether the Avs addressed the PK, he only says that he's "Still worried about it." A better answer might have been that of the Avs top ten PK minutes guys (as of the 15th, anyway), only three of them (Winnik, Quincey, and Galiardi) were with the Avs when they opened last season... everybody else has been added since then, four of them during the offseason. Looks to me like they did plenty to both the D and PK, and early returns are good. On what ends up being the best question of the bunch, Dater goes a bit too light on this answer; it deserved a more thoughtful response.

The third question deals with Forsberg entering the Hall of Fame, and wanders off into a discussion of Eric Lindros and Brendan Shanahan's chances for the HHoF. The question-asker favored Lindros over Shanahan, and Dater disagrees. I'm not sure what the questioner is thinking - perhaps he just can't see past an anti-Red Wing bias - but Shanahan clearly had a Hall of Fame-worthy career, and Dater agrees. 

I disagree with Dater's reasoning on Lindros, however... yes, his career was shortened by injury and he doesn't have those gaudy career numbers, but rather than having one or two great years and then fading away, Lindros still put together a string of seven or eight great, often dominant seasons. I was a bit surprised to learn that Lindros actually played in more NHL games than Forsberg. If Forsberg makes it into the Hall, Lindros should be right there with him. They were both among the very best players in hockey in the 1990s.

Next is a quick question about Joey Hishon. Dater answers equally quickly that he has a concussion and will likely be assigned to Lake Erie when the symptoms clear. This questioner could have just as easily Googled "Joey Hishon" and found the exact same information. Good answer, but kind of useless question.

Next, another brief question, this one addressing the pressing issue on every Avs' fan's mind: the goal horn. Dater assures us that the foghorn is still at Pepsi Center. This is two kind of puny questions in a row; starting to get the feeling Dater is just trying to pad this thing to 800 words.

Next is a question about the equipment managers, and whether they pack five or six jerseys for every road trip, or just take all the team's stuff to the laundromat. I suppose I'm just feeling cynical by this point after two silly questions, but really? Are there really people who care enough about hockey to wonder about that, who don't instantly conclude that arenas have facilities handy for washing the team's gear? Again, Dater gives a good, brief answer to a question that is just a waste of space.

Proof that Bell existed, and that he skated like he had to pee.
The final question deals with a recent Denver Post feature about the Avalanche's Top Ten Rookie Seasons. The questioner wonders why Mats Sundin's rookie season was not included. Dater's flip answer, "There's always a tough omission. Them's the breaks" leads me to think that Dater was the author of the list, and he'd rather dismiss the question than explain his choices. 

Sundin's rookie season with Quebec was a 23 goal, 59 point effort, which was a higher scoring output than six of the players on this list (all three Stastnys, plus Dale Hunter, scored more in their rookie seasons). This list included John-Michael Liles and Bruce Bell, for pete's sake... Bruce Bell over Mats Sundin? You screwed up, Dater. Just admit it.

Perhaps Dater didn't receive any decent questions this early in the year and needed to include some dumb ones to make it even worth printing, but that doesn't really excuse some of the thoughtless responses he gave to a couple of the better questions.

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