Monday, October 3, 2011

Various Preseason Stuff - Hockey Coming Soon!!!

The Avs' preseason schedule is complete, and the Red Wings (and the rest of the NHL) await. Few things are as useless and tell the fan as little as a pro sport's preseason schedule, so I must admit haven't been paying a lot of attention to either the Avs or the coverage they receive... but here are a couple tidbits to carry us through to the start of the regular season, just a few short days away!

Kings rip Avs, new goalie Varlamov, 6-0 in preseason

Quick glove but slow feet, poor lateral movement.
In this recap of an Avs loss to the LA Kings, Dater goes out of his way to rehash the deal that brought Varlamov to the team before bothering to write that neither Varlamov or the Avs played very well in what he admits is a "meaningless" game. Pointing out that Varlamov didn't play well is fine, and there's no problem recalling the fact that the Avs gave up a couple high draft picks to get him. However, Dater has a history of placing way too much blame on the goalies he doesn't like, while turning a blind eye when "his guys" don't play well, and I hope this isn't an early sign that he's gearing up for that again.

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.

Why would the Avs send Tyson Barrie to the minors?

In this blog entry, Dater answers his own question: it must be politics, prejudice, and "dues paying" that kept Barrie from making the Avalanche this season. He then launches into an explanation of NHL waiver rules before concluding that Barrie will be back, saying, "He’ll be a good player for the Avs I bet." Great conviction in that statement; I bet it really made those front-office guys think twice about their decision.

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.

Avalanche reduces rookies...

This is the newspaper article about the Avs' final roster moves, written by Mike Chambers. In writing it, Chambers used an old-fashioned style of writing that seems positively quaint these days: he opened with his topic sentence, and then answered who, what, when, where, why, and how. Throw in a couple quotes, and he's got himself an actual newspaper article. Put it in a museum; it's essentially an extinct species.

NHL determined to hit big hitters with serious punishment

We wrap up today with Adrian Dater's article about new discipline boss Brendan Shanahan's crackdown on hits to the head, which has already led to numerous suspensions this preseason. No doubt, Shanahan is taking this job seriously, and he's sending a message that (according to Dater) is being heard loud and clear by players.

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.


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