The crux of my argument was this: If I were a ‘Canes fan, I would be incredibly frustrated by the inconsistent play of Eric Staal. This was somehow massively offensive and tipped off a 700-or-so-word rant about what a clown I was (well, they kind of lumped me in with Mr. L. Gregory Wyshynski as though we were the same person. We are not).
So here is my retort, because, as the person that e-mailed me this told me, I need to “Smarten up,” which is something moms say.
On Monday, a new author over at Yahoo’s Puck Daddy Blog took the time to write a spiteful editorial about Eric Staal. While most of his facts seemed to be accurate, one might ask, why Staal and why now? In the author’s viewpoint, is Staal the only inconsistent superstar in the league?
The timing of the article is kind of weird because Staal is certainly not in a slump. Carolina’s franchise player was just named the NHL’s first star of the week. He recently scored more points in one game, (six), than any other player in the league has scored in a single game this season.
Why Staal and why now? Jeez I don’t know, maybe because he scored eight points in two games this weekend and still somehow fails to find himself as a point-a-game player. Maybe because he often goes a week or two without a goal (remember those seven- and eight-game goalless streaks this year?). Maybe because a friend of mine that used to work for the Hurricanes was JUST telling me on Friday about how frustrated he is with Staal’s play this season and last (obviously this was prior to the two-assist night against Calgary and the 4-2-6 against the Thrashers, but I doubt his feelings on the subject have changed).
Staal was obviously a focal point this weekend (and good on him for being one, I guess), and I figured I’d bring up my long-held feelings on him. As for my thinking he is the only inconsistent superstar, of course not. But he is the only that had eight points last weekend, so there ya go.
“Puck Daddy” informs it’s readers that Staal has scored 10 of his 32 goals against “bad” teams, apparently implying that the NHL All Star is a choker? …
Not a choker so much as someone who keeps his status as a “superstar” afloat by positively pummeling weak teams. Again, and I think it’s important that you glossed over this fact since it would be damaging to your argument: that’s 10 goals against bad teams in three games. In fact, Staal, as I pointed out, has scored 23 of his goals in 35 games against teams that were, at that time, outside the playoffs.
I like, by the way, that this guy keeps refering to Puck Daddy in quotes as though this is not the blog’s actual name.
… Then he goes on in an attempt to discredit him even further.
He also benefits heavily, of course, from playing in the Southeast Division, where two of the worst three teams in the league play his Carolina Hurricanes six times a year each.
WOW! This is a stunning accusation which has never been made before: The Southeast has some bad teams in it.
Apparently, Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Jay Bouwmeester, and every other player in the division doesn’t share this same benefit.
Well since Ilya Kovalchuk, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis all play for two of the aforementioned “three-worst teams in the league,” they don’t fully. But let’s have a peak at the stats for these guys, shall we?
(Numbers in parentheses are percentages of SE vs. overall total rounded to the nearest whole number)
Ovechkin: 47-38-85 in 65 games. 11-16-27 in 14 games against the SE. (23% goals, 42% assists, 42% points in 22 percent of the games.)
Green: 23-35-58 in 55 games. 9-6-15 in 11 games against the SE. (39, 17, 27 in 20)
Kovalchuk: 36-42-78 in 67 games. 9-11-20 in 17 games against the SE. (25, 26, 26 in 25)
Lecavalier: 28-34-62 in 66 games. 9-8-17 in 18 games against the SE. (32, 24, 27, 27)
St. Louis: 24-41-65 in 66 games. 7-12-19 in 18 games against the SE. (29, 29, 29, 27)
Bouwmeester: 13-22-35 in 67 games. 5-10-15 in 18 games against the SE. (38, 45, 43, 27)
Average: 28.5-35.3-63.8 in 64.3 games. 8.3-10.5-18.8 in 16 games.
So basically these six players that you named score 1.175 points per game against their Southeast opponents on average (and these numbers are heavily weighted down by the extremely odd inclusion of Bouwmeester). Overall, they score .992 points per game against the entire league, making a “Southeast bump,” if you will of .183 points per game.
Now let’s look at Eric Staal, who by the way has the lowest point total of any forward to which he is being compared.
Staal: 32-26-58 in 68 games. 13-9-22 in 21 games. (41, 35, 38, 30)
Ohhhhhhh jeepers… that looks kinda bad doesn’t it? Highest percentage of goals for, third-highest assists for, third-highest points for and highest games for.
Staal is scoring 1.05 points per game against the Southeast despite having .853 points per game overall. Staal’s Southeast Bump, then, is .197 points per game.
Now this only goes to prove that Staal scores a slightly higher percentage of his points against Southeast opponents than do the others named (and it would be higher, still, if not for Bouwmeester dominating SE teams like no other opponents).
To answer the original point, they all share the benefit, but Staal benefits even more than do they.
The author goes on to analyze which teams the center scored against the most. But let’s be fair. Eric Staal led the entire NHL in scoring during the 2006 playoffs with 28 points in 25 games played. He could have easily been awarded the Conn Smythe. Does that not count for anything? …
No, no it doesn’t. Because my calendar says it’s 2009. Also Cam Ward stole pretty much all those series so he was rightly awarded the Conn Smythe.
… Were all those playoff teams “weak sisters”?
Not really, I guess, but there was the Montral meltdown in which Staal scored just twice, and in the New Jersey series Staal didn’t score after Game 2, and he only scored twice in the Buffalo series and his only goals in the Finals were in Game 5. So your 45-goal scorer that year scored nine goals in 25 playoff games and saw his goals per game drop 22 percent. Yeah, great.
But my argument wasn’t that Eric Staal sucked in 2006, of course. Because he didn’t. But he sure did last year.
If “Puck Daddy” wanted to write up an Expos’e about Staal, why not at least make an attempt to sound somewhat unbiased and impartial?
Because that’s not my job.
They could certainly find a few positive things to add if they wanted to. How about the fact that Staal has played in 322 consecutive games, the second longest streak currently in the league? The 24 year old has only missed ONE game in his entire NHL career. But something like that is certainly insignificant compared to how many goals he has scored against Tampa Bay.
Uh huh. It’s great to have perfect attendance and get nothing but Cs across the board, isn’t it?
Staal also has four consecutive 30 goal seasons, a rarity no matter what division you play in. He is presently tied for sixth in the league with eight game winning goals. …
And 50 percent of those were against the Southeast. This is far too easy.
… (Patrick Marleau is first with 10). One could go on and on with the player’s attributes and achievements, but let’s see just how “poorly” Staal stacks up against a few of the other superstars in the league.
Oh this should be good.
First we will compare salaries of some of the highest paid players this season:
- Brad Richards: 7.8 million
- Marian Gaborik: 7.5 million
- Dany Heatley: 10 million
- Danny Briere: 8 million
- Vincent Lecavalier 7.1 million
- Jason Spezza: 8 million
- Scott Gomez: 8 million
- Chris Drury: 7.1 million
- Ryan Smyth: 7.2 million
Yearly salaries don’t matter and we all know it. It’s about cap hit. Several of the players listed, including Staal have lower cap hits than that. But this portion of the argument isn’t even about Staal, it’s about the value of the dollar the Canes’ GM got for Staal before the ridiculous Dustin Penner offer sheet ruined the market for NHLers getting off their entry-level deals. Staal’s cap hit next year, by the way, is fourth-highest in the league, and will be for years to come. Let’s see how many of these mediocre seasons Canes fans will tolerate.
By the way it’s interesting to note the exclusion of guys that would be injurious to the Canes Country argument. Guys like Jarome Iginla, Rick Nash, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Sid Crosby, etc. etc. etc. You don’t even want to KNOW how much Alex Semin’s getting paid this year (hint: less than Staal!).
Now compare total goals scored over the past four year period, (including YTD):
- Heatley: 173
- Lecavalier: 155
- Staal: 145
- Smyth: 114
- Gaborik: 113
- Spezza: 110
- Drury: 108
- Briere: 93
- Richards: 84
- Gomez: 76
Hmmm, Smyth’s not really a pure goalscorer. Gaborik’s hurt all the time (I’d love to see goals per game numbers on these two). Spezza’s more of a playmaker, same with Drury. Briere’s hurt a lot, and not really a goalscorer. Richards is more of a setup guy too. Gomez is pretty much ONLY a setup guy. Poor comparables. So there goes that argument.
Now compare total points for the same players during the same period, (including YTD):
- Heatley: 351
- Lecavalier: 337
- Spezza: 323
- Staal: 310
- Gomez: 261
- Richards: 260
- Smyth: 251
- Drury: 236
- Briere: 234
- Gaborik: 211
No one, by the way, was arguing that Scott Gomez, Brad Richards, Ryan Smyth or Chris Drury was on the same level as Staal, regardless of the hilarious amounts of money they’re paid. And again, we’re not going to accept the point totals for Briere and Gaborik as comparable players because they’re hurt constantly. It’s an unfair basis for comparison and you know it.
What have you done for me lately? Compare total points year-to-date:
- Lecavalier: 62
- Heatley: 61
- Staal: 58
- Smyth: 56
- Spezza: 54
- Richards: 48
- Gomez: 47
- Drury: 42
- Briere: 9
- Gaborik: 5
I really don’t know where these players came from. I compared Staal to absolutely nobody in that PD feature. Not one person. And to pull out these random players, all of whom are having seasons that, like Staal’s, are similarly subaverage. I’m now officially really bothered by the Briere and Gaborik comparisons, too, because they’re intentionally misleading. ONLY 14 POINTS BETWEEN THEM AND THEY’RE MAKING HOW MUCH OH HO WE’VE GOT YOU NOW TLP!
Do you? Because I never brought up money as a reason for being frustrated with Staal. The only time I brought up money, honestly, was the second-to-last sentence of the feature, when I said, “But is [a return to his 2005-06 form] worth … my god, $8.25 million a year for the next seven starting next season?”
So salary cap comparables for NEXT year? Hmm let’s see. Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, Richards, Lecavalier, Heatley, Chara, Lidstrom, Gomez. Staal’s only really in Richards’ and Gomez’s league there, right? And he costs $400,000-893,000 more than them. Oh yes, good value.
So let’s get this straight. Eric Staal is the inconsistent one who is not living up to his contract? (besides the fact that he has not even started his new contract yet).
Again, never said that.
If you take the time to actually look at the numbers and see what he is doing compared with what other highly paid players in the league have done, he is near the top in every category.
It’s easy to do that when you cherrypick the players to which you would like to compare your boy.
Is Eric Staal inconsistent at times?
I cannot type “YES” in big enough letters.
Of course, but is he any worse than most of the other highly compensated in the league?
I REALLY cannot type “YES” in big enough letters.
Why wouldn’t “Puck Daddy” do an in-depth analysis about what teams Scott Gomez scores against? Or Brad Richards? Or Ryan Smyth?
Because the Rangers suck, Richards is hurt, and the Avalanche suck.
It’s not the first time our friends at “Puck Daddy” have slammed Carolina. They have gone from calling the Glen Wesley retirement ceremony a joke, to even saying that the team, (as well as the division), should be contracted.
I had nothing to do with either of those but do believe Wyshynski, who wrote the Wesley thing, and Ross McKeon, who wrote the contraction thing, to be a little off-base, especially on the contraction bit. On top of that, I recognized Wesley’s value to the Hurricanes, but it’s almost the same as the stupid Adam Graves retirement ceremony, which was, is and always will be a joke.
The very popular blog can be called a lot of things, but unbiased is not one of them.
Nor should it be. If you want hockey commentary that calls it right down the middle, I don’t think the blogosphere is the place to look. Go read an AP story and you’ll get the most bland, boring, vanilla horsecrap imaginable, but nobody’s feelings get hurt. That’s the most important thing, right?
Hey Bubba, in my infinite generosity, I’m not gonna pull the “I’ve been watching hockey longer than it’s been in Carolina and therefore I know more about it than anyone down there” card on you (and I EASILY COULD !!!), but get your act together, man.
Your blog is one I read often, and it is also one of the most stultifyingly homeriffic on SBNation (love ya Chemmy) and it’s not even good-spirited about it. No one can have any type of even slightly anti-Hurricanes without you rifling off 1,500 boring-ass words, all of which basically amount to, “I have had my feelings hurt by another person’s opinions about a hockey team.”
The facts I presented were, of course, rather damaging to your argument that Eric Staal is among the league’s best players (he’s barely even a top-10 player in his own division, as a matter of fact, since I’d take Ovechkin, Green, Bouwmeester, Lecavalier, Semin, Kovalchuk, Vokoun, Ward and St. Louis over Staal), is NOT terribly and frustratingly inconsistent (he is), and is having a good year (he’s not).
I don’t care that you don’t think I’m right about Staal (I am, obviously). I don’t have a duty to paint things all sunshine and puppy dogs about some player just so some crybaby from The Triangle doesn’t piss and moan because Eric Staal got called the second-worst thing you can call a man: “mediocre.”