|Quick glove but slow feet, poor lateral movement.|
Dater made no secret this offseason that he thought the Avs should get Vokoun, but instead they traded for Varlamov... and so while there's nothing in particular wrong with this article, the fact that AD took so much time talking about the goalie situation makes me worry that he's just priming the pump for a year's worth of throwing Varlamov under the bus. If the Avs are struggling after a few weeks and Dater is repeatedly pointing out how well Anderson and/or Vokoun is doing, we will have our answer.
Opening an article such as this with a semi-rhetorical question isn't necessarily a bad idea, but when that question has an actual and obvious answer, you're kinda opening the door for ridicule. So here it comes: If Barrie had made the team straight out of juniors, he'd still have been behind Johnson, O'Byrne, Quincey, Hejda, Wilson, and O'Brien in the depth chart... meaning that Barrie would have to outplay Elliot, Hunwick, and Cumiskey just to be the 7th defenseman. Factor in that Elliot has apparently looked pretty darn good and that Hunwick isn't nearly as bad as your casual Avs fan/reporter seems to think, and there's just no way Barrie gets any ice time at all if he makes the Avs.
Twenty-year-olds don't improve too quickly running drills in practice and then watching games from the press box. On the other hand, twenty-year-olds usually do get a lot better when they go play hockey against the pros for 20-25 minutes a game... which is why nearly every single one of them does exactly that.
Sending Barrie down is absolutely, 100% the right thing to have done, and Dater should know this. It shouldn't even be a question he asked, and if he does ask it, he should at least provide the correct answer, rather than the "I'm gonna stir up some anti-front office sentiment with my little blog" answer. It's blogs like this one that make Dater sound less like a hockey beat writer who offers an understanding of the game, and more like a teenaged goofball who blogs with his cell phone about stuff that's cool, and stuff.
This isn't a bad article at all, really. In it, Dater starts with a story to get his audience–Avs fans–interested, moves on to the meat of the piece about the rule changes about hits to the head, and throws in quotes from various sources to spice things up and support the points being made. For the most part, Dater does a good job keeping his opinion separate from this piece, and seeing as how that's one of my biggest complaints about his writing, it's only fair to point it out when he avoids that particular pratfall.
Two quibbles: Dater points out that Shanahan is "a former Red Wing." Why? He was also a former member of the Blues, Whalers, Devils, and Rangers, but Dater mentions only Detroit, apparently for no other reason than to heighten the supposed irony that he was once a dirty rotten Red Wing, but now he's in charge of discipline. Kind of juvenile, that.
The other issue here is when Dater brings up the hit by Rob Blake that ended Peter Mueller's season in 2010... and 2011. He describes it as "a lateral hit to the head...that probably would have earned Blake a lengthy suspension under today's rules." This has long been one of Dater's favorite thing to complain about. Problem is, though, that Blake did not make contact with Mueller's head. Not even a little.
Don't believe me? See for yourself:
Now don't get me wrong, that's an illegal hit and a dangerous (if not flat-out dirty) play... but the "principal point of contact" there was the upper arm and shoulder blade; Blake never even touched Mueller's head, much less "targeted" it, and therefore would not have been subject to suspension under Rule 48. Sorry, Dater, you'll have to work that gripe into some other piece where it actually fits and makes sense. This last-second throw-in really derails what had been, to that point, a solid and effective article.