Monday, August 24, 2009

Turbulent Summers

If there is one thing I don't trust as much as injury-plagued players, is those players that had a pretty rough summer in the news. These players had stories written about them or were part of some sort of tragedy, which doesn't work well in the mental aspect of the game and then the player's effort and/or production drops. In the cruel world of gambling, some of these aspects are good to know when making your selections. It's good to identify these players early and have them noted on your list for your hockey pool draft, just so you can either discount their production levels or skip them altogether.

If you can discount a player's production, you are, at the very least, lowering his expectations for the year, to which can be a big bargain if you manage to pick the player in that point bracket and he comes through with an amazing season.

If you discount that same player and someone else in your pool picks him at his normal scoring rate, they will either luck out when that player does score his usual average or be disappointed when he falls short. Then hopefully, you've picked a player of the same average value and had a good season with him.

Since hockey, like most other sports, has a very large mental aspect, I think bringing turbulent summers into the mix is a wise decision.

A good place to begin in the discussions of turbulent summers will be Dany Heatley. His trade demands in June were not taken too kindly this summer, as the only deal that GM Bryan Murray could work out was with Edmonton and Heatley wouldn't approve the deal and get out of town. Ever since, Heatley has been scrutinized in the media and by hockey fans, which could lead to some negative backlash when the Senators training camp opens, especially since it looks to me like he'll be staying in Ottawa for the foreseeable future.

This doesn't look good on Heatley and it could mean some pretty negative implications could come of this, including some diminished ice-time or lessened roles. Of course, I can only speculate as to what's going to happen, but a coach probably doesn't like the idea of one of his top players trashing his system.

Heatley is a 50-goal scorer by trade and it would be silly for any team, even the one he wants out of, to sit him in favour of a player that likely isn't going to score 30 goals, but I suppose it's all a matter of motivation in the end. On my list, I'm discounting his points, lowering his rank for the time being. My draft will commence after the bulk of camp is finished, so I can make a late moment decision as to whether or not to change is outlook, but right now, I'm guessing it won't be very good. I would welcome someone else taking him, while I pick up a player like Jonathan Toews or Anze Kopitar.

The summer for Patrick Kane was going so well, up until recently. Kane was already named to the Team USA orientation camp and had a promising third season in the league ahead of him, but he (and his cousin) decided to get into a bit of trouble with the law, giving a cabbie a hard time for some change after a night on the town. Now, the severity of the incident is slowly diminishing as the stories are getting published, but nevertheless, now the crowds in opponent's buildings have a bit of fodder for booing and jeering then young forward. This ordeal will be a good challenge on his mental toughness this season.

The biggest difference between Kane and Heatley is that Kane didn't really slight his Blackhawks teammates, so he won't really face animosity in the dressing room. Everyone will be supporting him and he'll at least be able to have a good laugh about the whole thing when no one is looking. On the ice, however, he'll be the target of boos and colourful (and somewhat clever) signage during warm-ups, as no one will want him to forget what he did in the summer. At only 20 years old, Kane will be challenged with this negative energy, so a slight discount may be in order.

Last season, Kane scored 25 goals and 70 points, which is a pretty good year for the sophomore. I have him going down a little bit, which may be enough to get him at a bargain pick, but it's tough to say.

A family tragedy has likely decimated Jose Theodore's summer, as he lost his two-month old son passed away, which wouldn't be easy for any parent. There hasn't been any comment or reaction from Theodore, but nor should there be one at this time, but as an observer on such sad news, this will have to be weighing on his mind for quite some time.

If it wasn't already difficult for Theodore, he had a tough road to go to get back into the number one goalie spot for the Capitals, as Semyon Varlamov had done a good job, casting a large shadow of doubt over him in the playoffs last Spring. This all doesn't bode well for the 33-year old keeper.

Theodore did win 32 games for the Capitals last season, which was enough for the coaching staff to say that the number one job was still theoretically his last week, but I would imagine the leash will be really short from the get-go, especially if Varlamov and/or Michal Neuvirth come out of camp with something to say.

I have a really heavy discount on for Theodore, expecting him to have back-up numbers, instead of starting goalie numbers. I just feel safer that way.

Obviously, no one ever wants anything bad to happen to any of these players, but for everyone else, it all just keeps going on and we have to make sure we take everything in stride. Everyone wants to play in their hockey pool to win, so finding an advantage through the news should be considered somewhat reasonable.

No comments: