Musings

Let’s Discuss All Things McD

Well, not all things. But there are a couple things out in the bloodstream I’d like to talk about. The first was this from last week’s 31 Thoughts by Elliote Friedman. Before we get to the actual merits of the idea McDonough suggested at the GM meetings, I can’t help but smirk at the, “But we’re still paying them, right?,” line. Really lets you know where things are in the minds of really all presidents and owners. Yes John, you’re still paying them. Just like NFL players that don’t dress on Sundays (there are seven of the 53 who don’t), or the guys in suits at the end of an NBA bench. What McDonough is really asking here is probably more to the point of if they can find a way to not pay them then to sub them in.

But it’s his idea of having the option of subbing in players mid-game that gets the press here, and I have to say it’s at least worth thinking about. Much like a sub in soccer, it would bring one player out for the rest of the game while keeping the subbed in one involved the rest of the way. Injuries wouldn’t be as serious to a team in a game if after the period or even immediately you could dress one of your scratches.

The strategy of it would be the real watch. As this season has gone along I’ve been more and more leaning toward seeing teams dress seven d-men and have 11 forwards, and having your three or four best forwards get the extra shifts. Just here in town, what would be more preferable: getting Andreas Martinesen 12 minutes or seeing Kane, Saad, DeBrincat getting an extra two or three minutes? Think of it like batting your best hitter in the #2 spot. It’s become the new thing to do, because over a season you wring an extra 50 or more ABs. Well, two-three minutes a game over a full season probably nets you more goals, and these days things are settled on a handful of goals for or against.

This would only extend that. Down in a game you could bring in your cowboy d-man whom you’re afraid to play over a game or your shutdown guy who can’t really be trusted either. Or an extra forward if you want, It probably can’t sway too many games because if a certain player was that good he wouldn’t be scratched anyway. But still, it provides intrigue.

There’s only one downside that I can see: This would give coaches an easier outlet to have a goon/thug on the roster and only play him for a period. You can easily see a team getting whomped one night and a coach reaching for perhaps the most childish and dumbest hockey tradition of “message sending.” So out for the third comes whatever barely developed beast the team has out of the cage where he was tossed raw meat and fish heads to “stir shit up” and really cause a scene. You know this would happen. And we’d all be dumber for it.

There are obviously questions. How do you keep these players warm for a period or two? Simply riding the bike isn’t going to be enough. Can they get a five-minute skate at intermissions before the zambonis come out? Maybe, maybe not, and with the intermission mishegas it’s even less likely. But there’s probably a way.

It’s worth thinking about. The NHL shouldn’t outright dismiss any new ideas right now, and this doesn’t significantly warp the game while giving coaches more options and keeping players more involved. Maybe teams are more tempted to give their stars nights and periods off if they can, and keep them fresh for when it really matters, which really should be a bigger concern in the league. It’s worth talking about.

-As for McDonough’s day job, I see more people yelling at Lazerus and the other beat writers about who will GM the Hawks next year. I think a history lesson is important.

You may not have been around then, but when McD and Rocky first took over they knew enough to know they didn’t know jack or shit about hockey. So they brought in Scotty Bowman as their de facto president of hockey operations. It was Scotty who told them they’ll never figure out what they have on the roster if they don’t get a real coach in there, and only waited four games to whack Denis Savard thanks to Quenneville’s DUI the previous summer. (and it was also Scotty who probably told them to find a way to torpedo Tallon to hire his son, but considering how the 08-09 season went, that was put on hold for a year). Scotty advised them on pretty much every hockey decision.

So for those who want Stan fired, keep in mind that Scotty is unlikely to help find a replacement for his son, and he’s also 135 years old now. That would leave McD and Rocky to their own devices, and quite frankly I can’t help but think it might result in something looking like the Bears “search firm” adventures of the past, or seeing which way Ernie Accorsi’s wig is pointing that day.

Perhaps in ten years McDonough has taken time out from telling everyone what a great job he’s done or slathering himself in his own praise while presiding over one of the more born-on-third organizations in sports to get some connections and plug himself in a bit more to actual hockey goings-on. But I wouldn’t be so sure. Remember his presidency of the Cubs wasn’t even two years and all he did there was open the checkbook for Jim Hendry and his barrel to prepare for the sale of the team. This isn’t a man with a “grand plan.”

There will come a time that Stan has to be fired or let go or he’ll walk and McD will have to find his replacement on his own. I’m just not sure you want that ASAP.

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