Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Darren Eliot: arguing with himself

Darren Eliot attempts to make a point in his SI.com column:
Let's here it [sic] for the little guys.

If ever there was a measure of the positive effect of the more stringent standard applied to the rule book regarding the use of the hockey stick as a leverage tool in defending, it is the production by numerous players of smallish stature.

And what's his first piece of supporting evidence for this claim?
Not that this is entirely new to the NHL. Size and scoring have never had a direct correlation. Martin St. Louis is the reigning NHL MVP and he stands no more than 5-foot-9.

OK, so the runt St. Louis was the highest scorer and MVP in the old, unwatchable, all-obstruction NHL, but the fact that Brian Gionta (age 26, 3rd full NHL season) has 18 goals is proof of the positive effect of the new standards.

He goes through a list of under-six-footers:
And he concludes like so:
The key for Keith? He can skate. So can all the others mentioned. Aside from their lack of size, that is the one defining attribute these players share.

And that is what today's NHL is all about ... as it should be.

What about "talent" (or "youth")? Don't they share those attributes as well?

I'm still basically agnostic on the obstruction crackdown. I don't object to Eliot celebrating it. Nor do I object to a featurette on small guys playing big. But why would he insist on connecting the two, especially when all the players he cites, except Blake & Bates, are young guys? How can he possibly assert that previously, they were held back by obstruction? When you think about it, it's insulting: Eliot is claiming that these guys couldn't have succeeded under the old rules. I doubt you'd get a single one of them to agree with that.

And of course there's Dionne, Gretzky, Theo Fleury, and a host of guys who kicked ass for years through both close-in and wide-open play.

Hacking on the media is probably my least favourite thing to do on this weblog, but my personal standards demand that professional pundits, at minimum, make sense.

UPDATE: GrampaPinhead names off a few more notable midgets in the comments. Also, there is exactly one (1) guy in the NHL Top 15 scorers who is less than 6 feet and 200 pounds: Marc Savard is 5' 10", 195. (Next is Datsyuk, in 18th, at 5' 11", 185). Size isn't everything, but it matters.


Darren Eliot sure missid the boat on this, appears not too deep as a Hockey Fan. The new rules do open the door for smaller defensemen. Almost all his examples are from the E. conference and he overlooks an awful lot of heavweight lightweights. Some that immediately come to mind: Verbeek, Cicarelli, and Domi. Yzerman, Ray Whitney, Bob Nystrom, Bob Clark, Red Berenson are others that hit the mark when considering small in stature. I think there was a couple of guys that used to play also with big names like Ted Lindsay and Henri Richard. SI has never let History get in the way of a Shallow thought.

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