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The 2012 NHL unrestricted free agent class


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Good points, Bean, although I'd argue that those players, while criticized for finesse, are still able to land contracts commensurate with their skills. Where a guy like Semin is being so ridiculously blackballed that he may indeed have to go to the KHL to get paid what he's worth. At which point I'm sure all the bigots will smugly talk about the Russian factor, when in fact it's their own blatant prejudice that creates most of these types of situations.

Dumping on Semin is one thing, as is legitimate criticism. But this blackballing goes beyond reason.

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Just to add one last thing:

I want to contrast this Russian/character discussion with the other culturally-based discussion that we've seen a lot on these boards in the past year or so: whether or not the Canadiens should hire a French coach.

There's a large bloc of posters on this board (and I'll include myself in this) that feel that language should be a very minimal criterion when weighed against other measures of a coach's abilites. If he can communicate with his players well, match lines well, develop good systems, etc, who cares what language he speaks in the press conferences? It's true that the French language is held to be an important part of the identity of the Montreal Canadiens, absolutely, and it is important from a fan perspective, but it is a secondary concern to actual coaching ability. It is this ability that wins hockey games, and what really makes fans/media happy is a winning club. If there are two equal candidates then by all means pick the French one, but don't make it a huge part of your selection process.

Now I didn't bring this up to reopen that discussion. Just bear with me as I change just a few words in the paragragh that I just wrote.

If a hockey player is a top scorer in the leage, is a top defender in the league, makes his linemates better when he plays, etc, who cares about his "character" or whether or not his teammates like him? It's true that leadership and character are held to be important parts of the identity of any hockey team, absolutely, and they are important from a fan perspective, but these are secondary concerns to actual playing ability. It is this ability that wins hockey games, and what really makes fans/media happy is a winning club. If there are two equal candidates then by all means pick the natural leader, but don't make it a huge part of your selection process.

See what I did there? ;)

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Just to add one last thing:

I want to contrast this Russian/character discussion with the other culturally-based discussion that we've seen a lot on these boards in the past year or so: whether or not the Canadiens should hire a French coach.

There's a large bloc of posters on this board (and I'll include myself in this) that feel that language should be a very minimal criterion when weighed against other measures of a coach's abilites. If he can communicate with his players well, match lines well, develop good systems, etc, who cares what language he speaks in the press conferences? It's true that the French language is held to be an important part of the identity of the Montreal Canadiens, absolutely, and it is important from a fan perspective, but it is a secondary concern to actual coaching ability. It is this ability that wins hockey games, and what really makes fans/media happy is a winning club. If there are two equal candidates then by all means pick the French one, but don't make it a huge part of your selection process.

Now I didn't bring this up to reopen that discussion. Just bear with me as I change just a few words in the paragragh that I just wrote.

If a hockey player is a top scorer in the leage, is a top defender in the league, makes his linemates better when he plays, etc, who cares about his "character" or whether or not his teammates like him? It's true that leadership and character are held to be important parts of the identity of any hockey team, absolutely, and they are important from a fan perspective, but these are secondary concerns to actual playing ability. It is this ability that wins hockey games, and what really makes fans/media happy is a winning club. If there are two equal candidates then by all means pick the natural leader, but don't make it a huge part of your selection process.

See what I did there? ;)

I agree...dont forget to e-mail Bergevin about this. It seems that he has forgotten to demote Gomez and sign Semin. More offense, please...and a decent defense, would be nice too...Lets worry about character later...

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In professional sports, character is pretty much worthless. There, I said it.

We're trying to build a hockey team, not a boy scout troupe. I don't care if you're from Canada or Russia or Zimbabwe, the only thing that matters to me as a GM is how well you play hockey. If you're a terrible person and a great hockey player, well, I want you on my team. I won't go for a beer with you after the game, maybe, but between the whistles you're the guy I want.

And make no mistake, Semin DOES play hockey very well. Even if it's true that he's padding his own stats instead of "playing for the team", who cares? According to the article that BeanCountingHab posted, Semin's teammates have consistantly played better when he is on their line. Whether he's "trying to" or not, he DOES make his team better, as well as his teammates. So tell me again where his character has hurt anything?

I'd like to bring up an example from Canadiens history. We once had a player who was for all intents and purposes an outcast. This man was an extreme introvert who rarely wanted anything to do with his teammates. He wasn't very well liked by the rest of the Habs on a personal level: he almost never went out with them after the games, he spent all his time on the team bus sitting by himself, knitting, and he showed no interest whatsoever in the other players' personal lives. What a no-character guy, am I right? He was also a favourite whipping boy of the local media, and they'd question him and his odd habits whenever his on-ice performance dipped for a game or two. You'd think that someone like this would bring down morale to the point where it would start to affect the team, right?

Jacques Plante's record seven Vezina trophies and his six Stanley Cup victories would say otherwise.

Plante wasn't team captain material (even if he hadn't been a goalie) and, well, he probably wouldn't have wanted it anyway. But it didn't matter, since when he played hockey he did it better than anyone else. I see absolutely no difference between his situation and Semin's.

Sounds like Jacques Plante was secretly a Russian? :lol:

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It sounds like a lot of people have been waiting impatiently for a Russian to not get a contract, just to bring up this subject.

Maybe there is an argument to be made and maybe there isn't but in this case it might not hurt to BE patient and WAIT for Semin to NOT get his contract before protesting.

If Semin gets an 8Y/50M contract this whole conversation is going to look pretty silly.

Personally I am thrilled that MB hasn't signed him and I will feel relieved once some other team signs him.

We should be signing players that will be an important part of our future or wait til next season to find the right fit. I don't like the "sign a player because we need a player" strategy.

We don't need another Bourque Kaberle Gomez type player.

By the way, non of these three players are Russians. :)

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It sounds like a lot of people have been waiting impatiently for a Russian to not get a contract, just to bring up this subject.

Maybe there is an argument to be made and maybe there isn't but in this case it might not hurt to BE patient and WAIT for Semin to NOT get his contract before protesting.

If Semin gets an 8Y/50M contract this whole conversation is going to look pretty silly.

Personally I am thrilled that MB hasn't signed him and I will feel relieved once some other team signs him.

We should be signing players that will be an important part of our future or wait til next season to find the right fit. I don't like the "sign a player because we need a player" strategy.

We don't need another Bourque Kaberle Gomez type player.

By the way, non of these three players are Russians. :)

We need offense...If its not Semin, who do you suggest...AK?

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Good points, Bean, although I'd argue that those players, while criticized for finesse, are still able to land contracts commensurate with their skills. Where a guy like Semin is being so ridiculously blackballed that he may indeed have to go to the KHL to get paid what he's worth. At which point I'm sure all the bigots will smugly talk about the Russian factor, when in fact it's their own blatant prejudice that creates most of these types of situations.

Dumping on Semin is one thing, as is legitimate criticism. But this blackballing goes beyond reason.

Oh certainly, I'm not denying there is a Russian bias at work here. As you pointed out, those "finesse" players have still been able to land those contract. However, other Russian players have also been able to land contracts.

My point/conclusion was that it was the combination of these stigmas which Semin falls squarely into that make him public enemy number 1 to the media.

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In professional sports, character is pretty much worthless. There, I said it.

We're trying to build a hockey team, not a boy scout troupe. I don't care if you're from Canada or Russia or Zimbabwe, the only thing that matters to me as a GM is how well you play hockey. If you're a terrible person and a great hockey player, well, I want you on my team. I won't go for a beer with you after the game, maybe, but between the whistles you're the guy I want.

And make no mistake, Semin DOES play hockey very well. Even if it's true that he's padding his own stats instead of "playing for the team", who cares? According to the article that BeanCountingHab posted, Semin's teammates have consistantly played better when he is on their line. Whether he's "trying to" or not, he DOES make his team better, as well as his teammates. So tell me again where his character has hurt anything?

I'd like to bring up an example from Canadiens history. We once had a player who was for all intents and purposes an outcast. This man was an extreme introvert who rarely wanted anything to do with his teammates. He wasn't very well liked by the rest of the Habs on a personal level: he almost never went out with them after the games, he spent all his time on the team bus sitting by himself, knitting, and he showed no interest whatsoever in the other players' personal lives. What a no-character guy, am I right? He was also a favourite whipping boy of the local media, and they'd question him and his odd habits whenever his on-ice performance dipped for a game or two. You'd think that someone like this would bring down morale to the point where it would start to affect the team, right?

Jacques Plante's record seven Vezina trophies and his six Stanley Cup victories would say otherwise.

Plante wasn't team captain material (even if he hadn't been a goalie) and, well, he probably wouldn't have wanted it anyway. But it didn't matter, since when he played hockey he did it better than anyone else. I see absolutely no difference between his situation and Semin's.

Sounds like Jacques Plante was secretly a Russian? :lol:

Maybe he was as he personally advised Tretiak before the '72 Summit Series. A good book by Todd Denault on JP. He truly was a revolutionary player.

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It sounds like a lot of people have been waiting impatiently for a Russian to not get a contract, just to bring up this subject.

Maybe there is an argument to be made and maybe there isn't but in this case it might not hurt to BE patient and WAIT for Semin to NOT get his contract before protesting.

If Semin gets an 8Y/50M contract this whole conversation is going to look pretty silly.

Personally I am thrilled that MB hasn't signed him and I will feel relieved once some other team signs him.

We should be signing players that will be an important part of our future or wait til next season to find the right fit. I don't like the "sign a player because we need a player" strategy.

We don't need another Bourque Kaberle Gomez type player.

By the way, non of these three players are Russians. :)

Right, we don't know what contract Semin will get, but we know that he didn't get the same offers as the massively overrated Parise even though he has identical goal scoring, assists, durability, age in spite of having inferior linemates and offensive oportunities.

Semin is not a Bourque-Gomez-Kaberle type player. The only thing he has in common with those guys is that he isn't a WASP. Bourque is aboriginal, Gomez is latin-American, and Kaberle is Eastern European, but that's where the similarities end. Semin is a much better player.

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Right, we don't know what contract Semin will get, but we know that he didn't get the same offers as the massively overrated Parise even though he has identical goal scoring, assists, durability, age in spite of having inferior linemates and offensive oportunities.

Semin is not a Bourque-Gomez-Kaberle type player. The only thing he has in common with those guys is that he isn't a WASP. Bourque is aboriginal, Gomez is latin-American, and Kaberle is Eastern European, but that's where the similarities end. Semin is a much better player.

I agree with a lot of your points, but I feel the identical "durability" is a bit misleading. In 7 seasons Parise only has one where he played under 81 games. It happens to be the season where he needed surgery and missed almost all of it. So over 7 seasons your games played are comparable, but if you actually line up the 7 seasons from each and compare, I think you're going to feel much more confident about Parise's ability to give you 80 games a year on average.

In terms of consistency, if you look back, Parise's had 30 goals every season since his rookie year (except the season he missed). Comparatively, Semin's been more up and down, again having a lot to do with health.

If I seem like I'm knit picking, it's only because I support the crux of your argument and I believe that Semin is absolutely in the same class as Parise, they just bring somewhat different pros and cons to the table.

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I agree with a lot of your points, but I feel the identical "durability" is a bit misleading. In 7 seasons Parise only has one where he played under 81 games. It happens to be the season where he needed surgery and missed almost all of it. So over 7 seasons your games played are comparable, but if you actually line up the 7 seasons from each and compare, I think you're going to feel much more confident about Parise's ability to give you 80 games a year on average.

In terms of consistency, if you look back, Parise's had 30 goals every season since his rookie year (except the season he missed). Comparatively, Semin's been more up and down, again having a lot to do with health.

If I seem like I'm knit picking, it's only because I support the crux of your argument and I believe that Semin is absolutely in the same class as Parise, they just bring somewhat different pros and cons to the table.

Semin misses 10 games every year, and Parise misses 70 games once every 7 years. If the roles were reversed, who would be considered more durable?

I've already shown in a prior post that Semin's goal scoring is statistically consistent with perfect consistency. You don't expect to get the same stats from a player every year, and if you do, then it's a fluke.

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looking at UFA lw'ers...id like to get wojtek wolski on a bargain contract. he has been a good player his whole career, but his numbers have dipped and he got shuffled around a little recently.

he was getting 3.8, i think hes only going to get around 2 from someone, i dont think that would be a bad pickup at all. what do you guys think?

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So you look at what North American media overvalues and considers gritty/character traits:

- Hitting

- Shotblocking

- Defensive play

- Playoff performance

- Cup wins

- Willingness to fight

The things on that list are not really part of Semin's strengths and some are part of his weaknesses. This bias transcends race. Combine it with the Russian stigma and you have a perfect storm of reasons to dump on Alex Semin.

I don't think the media overvalues points 1, 2, 3 or 6 but I do agree points 4 and 5 are over exaggerated. As for points 1, 2, 3 and 6, you need to surround your best players with these types of players with today's game. I wouldn't expect Semin to be a gritty player because that isn't his forte.

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In professional sports, character is pretty much worthless. There, I said it.

Wow i'm glad no professional sport Gm's agrees with you on that one. Why do people do pre-draft interviews if character isn't a factor? Oh and they do this in every team sport.

Winning teams need to trust each other and respect each other they don't have to like everyone off the ice but on the ice they have to be dedicated to the cause and want to go to war with each other, if someone isn't pulling there end it's frustrating for other players. Skill is the underlying #1 factor but totally ruling out character is just not the truth, guys like Moen wouldn't even be in the NHL if this was the case a more skilled guy would be there instead.

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We need offense...If its not Semin, who do you suggest...AK?

I would be fine with anyone cheap and short term. Not a fan of Kovalev but I would even take him on a 1Y/1m,2M contract. Or stand pat and go down with the ship for one last year, draft well for one more year and wait for the crop of free agents next year which I am told will be far better than this years crop. Leave MB some room for making moves. I know it doesn't sound very glamorous but this is the position we have found ourselves in.

I don't want to put any lipstick on this pig!

I want to add pieces for the future if they come are way but this team right now has a face only a mother could love.

We will look soooo much better next year. Maybe even enough to attract some high end FAs.

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I don't think the media overvalues points 1, 2, 3 or 6 but I do agree points 4 and 5 are over exaggerated. As for points 1, 2, 3 and 6, you need to surround your best players with these types of players with today's game. I wouldn't expect Semin to be a gritty player because that isn't his forte.

Shotblocking is way, way overrated by journalists and fans. I'm not saying it doesn't have its place, but in many cases, great shot-blockers are players whose limited ability to move the puck is a reason why they are in their own zone, facing those shots in the first place. Better than shot-blocking: having the puck on your own stick.

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I would be fine with anyone cheap and short term. Not a fan of Kovalev but I would even take him on a 1Y/1m,2M contract. Or stand pat and go down with the ship for one last year, draft well for one more year and wait for the crop of free agents next year which I am told will be far better than this years crop. Leave MB some room for making moves. I know it doesn't sound very glamorous but this is the position we have found ourselves in.

I don't want to put any lipstick on this pig!

I want to add pieces for the future if they come are way but this team right now has a face only a mother could love.

We will look soooo much better next year. Maybe even enough to attract some high end FAs.

I agree just because we need offense this year doesn't mean we need to make a signing when it doesn't fit our vision or future. Hell even though i'm totally not a Semin fan I'd give him every dollar we have have left over the cap on a 1 year deal. IMO there is no guy out there that fits the bill and I wouldn't sell the farm to try and find the guy. Play the cards as we have them and maybe a young guy surprises and the habs push for a playoff spot then make a signing next summer and a few more young guys jump in and there you go we are competitive again.

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Right, we don't know what contract Semin will get, but we know that he didn't get the same offers as the massively overrated Parise even though he has identical goal scoring, assists, durability, age in spite of having inferior linemates and offensive oportunities.

Semin is not a Bourque-Gomez-Kaberle type player. The only thing he has in common with those guys is that he isn't a WASP. Bourque is aboriginal, Gomez is latin-American, and Kaberle is Eastern European, but that's where the similarities end. Semin is a much better player.

Maybe it's just me but I feel I'm watching exciting hockey when I see that little titan Parise doing his thing. I didn't agree with his contract though. I feel a player has to have size and/or be physical to get above the 6M mark.

Semin does have a couple other things in common with the players mentioned above.

He's less useful in the playoffs than in the regular season.

He's not likely going to intimidate anyone physically or offensively.

To get him we would have to overpay for him.

And he's a bit of a ninja. He can disappear into thin air :lol:

Semin is the better player but I bet there would be someone out there to argue that Kaberle in his prim or Gomez in his prim were the same caliber of player as Semin.

Not me though. I never liked Gomez or Kaberle. :ph34r:

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I agree just because we need offense this year doesn't mean we need to make a signing when it doesn't fit our vision or future. Hell even though i'm totally not a Semin fan I'd give him every dollar we have have left over the cap on a 1 year deal. IMO there is no guy out there that fits the bill and I wouldn't sell the farm to try and find the guy. Play the cards as we have them and maybe a young guy surprises and the habs push for a playoff spot then make a signing next summer and a few more young guys jump in and there you go we are competitive again.

THIS!

And I agree that a one year deal for Semin is totally different. I would do that!

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Wow i'm glad no professional sport Gm's agrees with you on that one. Why do people do pre-draft interviews if character isn't a factor? Oh and they do this in every team sport.

Pre-draft interviews have nothing to do with Semin. When you're looking to draft someone you really have no idea how they're going to pan out in the NHL. You're looking to get any extra bit of information that you can, and sometimes GMs might look at "leadership potential" as something that tips the scales (although as you said below skill should still be the #1 determining factor).

With Semin, on the other hand, there's no need for guesswork or subjective measurements - we have seven seasons of actual performance to use when making our judgement.

Winning teams need to trust each other and respect each other they don't have to like everyone off the ice but on the ice they have to be dedicated to the cause and want to go to war with each other, if someone isn't pulling there end it's frustrating for other players. Skill is the underlying #1 factor but totally ruling out character is just not the truth, guys like Moen wouldn't even be in the NHL if this was the case a more skilled guy would be there instead.

Correction: SOME winning teams trust each other and want to go to war and all the other cliches. Some teams are just really good.

Character helps, I don't deny it. I might not put as much stock into it as some others, but there's no doubt that it's a good thing. You're right that a guy like Moen isn't going to be in the NHL over someone who has better hands without his hustle. Team spirit is great and maybe it helps put some marginal teams over the top. But to look at it in isolation and say that Semin's a negative influence on a team because he doesn't try hard or because people don't like him is to miss the point.

I'll try to frame what I'm saying below. If you're going to respond to the post do it to the next two paragraphs, since I'll see if I can't clarify what I'm trying to say there.

Basically the goal in professional hockey is to win. We all agree on this, I hope :P. You're saying that team bonding will have a positive impact on team performance. Yes, it will. You're also saying that having a player who is percieved as being lazy or is disliked by his teammates will have a negative impact on team performance. Yes, it will. I'm not denying either of those statements. But if you look at them in isolation then how do you explain the following objective, statistical fact: players who have played with Alex Semin have had better results playing with him than they have had playing without him (as shown in Bean's article).

I can think of two possible logical answers off the top of my head. 1) Semin isn't as lazy as people think. 2)Semin IS as lazy as people think, but he's so good at playing hockey that he's able to overcome whatever negative impact that laziness has on himself and his teammates. Which is it? To be honest, it really doesn't matter. He's shown in the past that he's a great individual hockey player and that he makes those around him better. There's no reason to expect that to be any different in Montreal or any other team in the league.

So there you have it. If Semin is in fact significantly more lazy that Parise then, logically, Semin must also be much more skilled than Parise in order to make up for it and achieve roughly the same level of offensive and defensive production. Why people seem to value "gritty" production over "finesse/lazy" production, well, that I can't tell you.

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Semin misses 10 games every year, and Parise misses 70 games once every 7 years. If the roles were reversed, who would be considered more durable?

I've already shown in a prior post that Semin's goal scoring is statistically consistent with perfect consistency. You don't expect to get the same stats from a player every year, and if you do, then it's a fluke.

In either role, I consider the guy who played 80+ games 6 out of the last 7 years more durable. I think it's stretch to say this means he'll miss 70 games once every 7 years. If we want to factor in that injury as a risk of causing future problems/needing maintenance days as he ages, or shortening his career in general, that's fair though.

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One more thing.

What if Semin is a player that could cause a distraction for the team. It is possible that GMs have info that we don't.

Say we sign him to a six year deal and he comes in all toxic and poisons Galchenyuk!

We all remember the Samsonov Incident.

Or were we just picking on Samsonov because he was Russian B)

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