Grinds My Gears 2/8


Don't know if this will be a regular feature or not, but we'll try it for now and see where it goes.

-I hope people have had a chance to calm down a little bit, though there should be a level of seething that won't go away for a while. I know I have it. But there is something I'd like to shoot down, or at least fill with a modicum of buckshot. On the twitters and comments in various places, I've seen a lot of "Stan Bowman is a complete moron who has no eye for talent" sentiment. I just can't agree with this.

His eye for talent is at worst incomplete. He's had two drafts, and none of those players have made a serious impact on the team. But it's not like he's had a top five pick. And his drafts have been generally well regarded. Both Hayes kids, McNeil, Saad, Danault, and maybe a couple others, while they may not be stars one day, all are regarded as having an NHL future. While Nick Leddy has obviously struggled, I still think he has a big NHL future. As for other trades, look at the player Stalberg has become and remember that he was acquired when Bowman had his hands completely tied in a cap purge. Jeremy Morin hasn't taken a step forward this year, partially due to injury, but no one's ready to give up on him yet. Everyone's favorite, most of all Q's, little fire-plugging turnover machine Andrew Shaw is a Bowman pick.

Ok, the offseason pickups have come in for criticism. At the time, we liked them , and I don't know that the disappointments they've been is due to wrongful signings more than coaching mishandling and a disconnect between the coach and GM -- which I'll get to in a bit here.

His midseason trades were Campoli, Frolik, and the corpse of Kim Johnsson. We never got a verdict on Johnsson due to injury (maybe), and Campoli was at least useful (or why would some be calling for him to be re-acquired?). Frolik has been a mess this year, but again, that could just as easily be coaching and use as much as actual talent.

To say that Stan simply has no idea what he's doing? I don't think that's fair, and very well may be factually incorrect.

-But let's get to what does worry me about the organization. I don't get the impression that Stan and Q ever talk, and I'm not sure that Stan isn't completely terrified of Q. Let's go back to the summer. While we all wanted a big splash, I was fine with Stan not making one if he didn't see anything he liked. It provided the cap space, if nothing else, he has to use now. Everything we saw then looked like it filled a hole. Most of all, Mayers and Brunette were advertised as Q players. They'd played for him before. Montador was exactly what he asked for. Carcillo was...a risk, but one you could see.

And from the word go, Quenneville has torpedoed almost all of them. The only one Q has seemed to like is Mayers, and he's playing center where he really shouldn't be. Q soured on Montador in training camp, and even started him as a forward in his first game. He's never got a glimpse on a penalty kill that sucks to high heaven. He used him as a forward on a power play, and while it goofed a few power play goals, his booming shot from the point that actually gets through is something the PP is screaming for. Q's completely shot his belief, and he gets benched with a hair trigger while Hjalmarsson only recently could find himself with reduced minutes. Montador simply hasn't been the abortion a lot of people claim he's been. Fuck, he hasn't even had the minutes to do that.

Brunette has been an odd fit, I can't deny that. But that doesn't mean he's a complete boob, and just needs the right situation to do what he does well. During Sharp's injury, Bruno found some real chemistry with Bolland, as they both do their best work around the goal line. As soon as Sharp got back, Q blew that up. And for reasons no one gets, because Marcus Kruger wasn't letting anyone down between Hossa and Sharp. There's no way that both Morrison and Mayers should both be playing center during a game.

I still think Brunette can be a playoff weapon when games really tend to slow down, but only if Q gives him the chance. But before he was signed, did Q and Stan talk about him at all? Did Q either not know or didn't tell Stan his complete lack of speed might be a problem? Did Stan not listen to him? While a coach shouldn't be making personnel decisions, he certainly should have input, especially about a player he's already coached. On the flip side, a GM shouldn't be making lineup decisions, but Stan must have a strange look on his face when his blueprint was discarded so early.

Stan gave Q a perfectly reasonable 7th d-man in Sami Lepisto, and even kept John Scott on the roster I have to guess because Q wants him there. Your defense can't stop a paraplegic in the sand, and Lepisto's not even worth a look? How can that be?

I can't help but feeling like this is Jauron-Angelo all over again, though both of those guys were morons anyway. But Stan didn't hire Q, even if he was in on the process. Q then goes on to win a Cup with a roster that was almost completely not Stan's, and he must know now that he's pretty much untouchable. So that's why, or at least it's a theory why, Q has treated this season as a demonstration of what a genius he is. Because if the higher-ups decide that changes have to be made, it's really up for debate who they're going to side with: the coach who brought the Chalice here (whether he had that much to do with it or not) or the young GM hired under suspicious circumstances who provided two disappointing teams (if in fact this team ends the year disappointingly?) You can't say which.

-There's more with Q that I just don't get. We've been over all of them. The demotion of Kruger for no obvious reason. Stalberg can get benched for farting on the ice but Andrew Shaw can be a puck pitch-back and gets looks in all situations? The inability to convey what the hell he wants out of Michael Frolik. Look, Fro hasn't been anything like we wanted, but he hasn't been an affront to the lord either. He still does his best work with Bolland, shouldn't he stay there? Maybe maybe not. But it's another player who took a step back under Q.

Anyway, I'm out for the next few days. I started this streak in Nashville, so I feel a responsibility to go end it in San Jose. So I'm going to go do so.