Monday, December 19, 2005


Non-Battle-related items

- Sometime this afternoon, the odometer on this site is going to roll past 20,000 visitors. Thanks to all of you.

- Why must sports writers indulge in insane hyperbole so often? Here's the lede from David Amber's "Facing Off" with Steve Sullivan.
No NHL player has defied the odds quite like Steve Sullivan.

Just among active NHLers, there's guys who have come back from cancer, broken necks, and fatal car crashes (uh, fatal to others). But Steve Sullivan got cut from a Bantam AAA team when he was 14, so apparently he wins the prize.

- Christy at Behind The Jersey has the most interesting thing I've read on a blog this month: the story of the Red Wings' fathers spending a week with the team, including their road trip through the Southeast Division.
The players, coaches and support staff were allowed to invite a father, male family member or mentor to attend Monday's home game against Pittsburgh, then come along on the Wings' trip to play Atlanta, Florida and Tampa Bay.

The trip gave the team members a chance to share what they do for a living with some of the people who were responsible for their development. The guests went everywhere the players went, except on the ice.

Read the whole thing, including the accounts she links to. It actually gives me a new respect for Mike Babcock. The majority of NHL coaches, I suspect, would be too blinded by the short-term inconveniences and "changes to the routine" inherent in such a thing to allow it. But, these are the kind of things that make an organization admired by players. In the salary cap era, there's 30 teams talking about things they can do "besides salary" to appeal to players. How many of them can actually point to anything concrete? At least one...

- And speaking of the Wings, I see Brendan Shanahan was named NHL Offensive Player of the Week. While the focus on the Olympic roster bubble remains on Todd Bertuzzi and the young guys, Shanny is playing fantastic hockey. Team Canada lost its two most veteran forwards in the past two weeks: shouldn't there be room for a two-time Olympian as a replacement? He's on my team; I sure hope he's on Gretzky and Quinn's.


Thanks for the plug. My admiration for Babcock also greatly increased. During the Wings vs. Lightning game, the broadcast featured a short interview with Scotty Bowman and Bowman thought it was a great idea to have the trip as well.

Let me stand up in defence of the statement that no NHLer has beaten the odds like Sullivan. He wasn't just written off in Bantam AAA; he went on from there to make the Soo Greyhounds, but he basically went undrafted despite putting up Rob Schremp numbers in the OHL. He fought back again, but New Jersey never gave him a fair shake, and the Leafs waived the guy outright in '99. You can maybe find other players with that kind of background, but you absolutely won't find any stars. (Possibly a goalie or two, but goalies are different.)

A superstar who gets lymphoma or breaks his neck is either going to come back or he isn't; his basic talent isn't in question. I'm not quarrelling with the idea that it takes a special kind of courage to come back from life-threatening illness or injury. But until six or seven years ago there was probably nobody in the world but Steve Sullivan who thought that the guy had more than a 1% chance of becoming a first-rate NHL regular. When we say "odds" we're talking about statistics, and by that standard I think the statement about Sullivan is probably damn near correct.

Sorry, no. The Flames have a defenseman who broke both legs before he ever played a pro game, yet went on to exceed the highest expectations anyone ever had for him pre-injury; he's about to go to the Olympics.

But even if you don't like injury comparisons; there's another NHL midget who got given away by one team, then went on to win a Hart and Art Ross. Although we have to go way back in history about 18 months to find him.

Speaking of NHL midgets who have had a tough row to hoe, Romanuk has a feature up on the Flames all-time favourite midget. He is also their all-time leading scorer.

Interesting final paragraph in that story. I never would have suspected that the Belfast Giants sweaters had a Flaming C on the chest.

Except for the fact that Martin St. Louis wasn't drafted, the comparison is lousy. MSL didn't have to attend tryouts to find a junior berth, and after one year in the QMJHL he got handed a full-ride four-year scholarship at Vermont. Moreover, after Calgary let him go, he signed with Tampa for something like twice the league minimum.

MSL didn't have to attend tryouts to find a junior berth, and after one year in the QMJHL he got handed a full-ride four-year scholarship at Vermont.

Did St. Louis ever play in the Q? No mention of it on hockeydb and I'm pretty sure the rule is that playing a major junior game wipes out your scholarship eligiblity.

Of course, if he was able score 1.5 pts/game as a freshman in the NCAA, he could have played in the Q no problem, but it appears he made the choice not too.

Not that I think this impacts in any way on the argument in relation to Sullivan-I still think his path is a bit more impressive. I'm not all that sold on St. Louis either-I know he was MVP last year, but he's getting outscored by Sullivan this year. He's got far superior talent around him as well, or at least he did until this year.

Looks like you are right. I can't remember now where I got the idea that MSL had played in the Q.

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