Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Tom Benjamin's NHL Blog

RIP Pat Quinn


Posted by on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 6:19 pm


Even though I knew Pat Quinn wasn’t well, I was shocked and saddened by the news of his death. I never met the man, but it is still an intensely personal loss. There are about a million Pat Quinn stories out there, all of them describing a fine man, a man who was widely respected and loved by almost everyone who worked for him. He became my favourite person in hockey when he was busy rescuing the Vancouver franchise and he remained a favourite long after he left. Even when he was running the Leafs I couldn’t help but pull for him. The Pat Quinn era was, without a doubt, the happiest time I have spent with my hockey team. Partly that was because the Vancouver rebuild coincided with the early days of social media. By the time of the 1994 Stanley Cup run there was a great community of Canuck fans discussing every move Pat made or didn’t make. We laughed, we cheered, we argued, in the end, we cried when his era ended and the Messier era began. I owe Pat Quinn. I learned more... [Read more]



Back to the Future


Posted by on Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 9:06 pm


Emotionally Canuck fans were delighted by the decision to bring Trevor Linden back into the organization. He is the most popular player in team history and while he was not born in the city, he has become a Vancouver boy. Everyone really wants to see him succeed. If he accomplishes nothing else this summer, Trevor has the fans setting aside the pitchforks. While the heart is happy, the head is still worried. I do think Linden is smart enough to do the job and his personal relationship with key members of the team is a big advantage. (He will get a very good idea of the state of the dressing room when he does exit interviews with ex-teammates Henrik, Daniel, Burrows, Bieksa and Edler.) On the other hand, he has no experience, he’s six years away from the game, and his tenure as NHLPA President ended about as badly as it could end. Furthermore, it niggles at the head a bit because Aquilini isn’t dumb and he knew that this move was about the only option he had to get the fans... [Read more]



On Scouting Reports


Posted by on Monday, March 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm


I regularly read Lowetide partly because I keep a pretty close eye on the Oilers, but mostly because he and I grew up watching the same players. He often likes to make a point – like in this post – using things like Steve Shutt’s scouting report from 1972: Steve Shutt plays his position (LW) exceptionally well and should be an easy pupil for an NHL coach. He patrols his wing religiously and is always well positioned in the attacking zone. Defensively, he is rated well above average for a junior. His shot is his major asset: quick, heavy and accurate. He is equally dangerous with a wrist or slap shot. Good skater and more than willing to dig in the corners. Shot is sufficiently impressive, along with heady play, that he could become point man on an NHL powerplay as a freshman with the right club. Last year, his 70 goals were only one shy of the OHA record (set by Richard Martin). – George Hanson, Montreal Star. Lowetide notes that this is a very good scouting report,... [Read more]



Time to Tread Water


Posted by on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 4:49 pm


It has been a long time since Vancouver was effectively eliminated from the playoffs this early and even longer since the Canucks have had such a disappointing season. (Vancouver has not been mathematically eliminated, of course, and the team will pretend they still have a chance for a while yet, but for me the loss to Tampa seals the deal. Even if they win the rest of their games, they will only have 94 points and that will not be good enough. There has been scant hope for weeks – now there is none.) So what now? The good news is that the Canucks are a lot better than their record. Assuming the Sedins snap back (no other assumption is thinkable) and their luck generally is better, the Canucks could be back into the mix without making significant change. In other words, there is no need to panic. The bad news is that the mob is clearly restless and many believe that nothing short of dynamite will do. The Canucks do have to get better if they want to contend, but I doubt if they can... [Read more]



The NHL and the Olympics


Posted by on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 5:36 pm


According to Bill Daly the NHL will make a decision about whether the league will participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics within the next six months. The early indications seem negative. Comments from league insiders are decidedly unenthusiastic about Korea. I believe this is probably a negotiating tactic because the clowns who run the NHL are greedy (beyond imagination) but they are not stupid. They see the pot of money Olympic hockey generates and they think they deserve a share. The IOC isn’t willing to pay anything beyond injury insurance and expenses because NHL participation probably does not have a very significant impact on overall Olympic revenues. It would be nice if the NHL just folded and committed to the Olympics forever but we won’t be that lucky. Instead the NHL will play hard to get every cycle, trying to jerk something more out of the IOC. At the end of each day, however, the league will go along. Why? Because anything else would be stupid. The NHL argument... [Read more]



Tyler and Dave


Posted by on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 11:33 am


Tyler Dellow is one of my favourite bloggers. I’ve read him for years. If pressed to explain why when I don’t hold much truck with hockey analytics, I say something like this, “He’s got an interesting point of view and he writes well. I don’t think the data he uses has anywhere near the validity that he thinks, but at least it is different. Like most fans, I’m beyond tired of the usual narratives most of the mainstream media attach to the players and the teams. I take different bullshit over the same old bullshit.” In a recent post Tyler is all over some comments Dave Nonis made about the use the Leafs make of hockey analytics. (They don’t make much of them at all. Mirtle has more.) Tyler begins with: For reasons I’ll never understand, they never really have a coherent advocate of hockey analytics on these panels – at most, you get some sort of a nebbish character who’s intimidated by hockey people. At worst, you get a guy who knows... [Read more]



The Desert Dawgs


Posted by on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm


I don’t have very much to say about the hockey game last night. A tie was a fair result. (That’s how I see games that end up in a shootout these days. Vancouver and Phoenix each deserved a point last night. Neither team deserved two.) I do, however, have something to say about the Phoenix Coyotes. The great job that Maloney and Tippett have done in Arizona has largely been lost amidst the financial circus. Despite the soap opera, they’ve built a good hockey team in the desert. They are not a fluke. They are going to be competitive for the forseeable future, and if they get lucky… (A decent team is surely a necessary precondition for financial success and they are better than decent. Will they find a market? It was good to hear “Go, Coyotes, Go” in the third period last night. Maybe the cheer was born to drown out a band of Canuck fans, but still the rink felt alive and it’s been a long time since I’ve said that about a regular season game... [Read more]



Some Weasel, Some Sisters


Posted by on Friday, November 1, 2013 at 8:13 pm


One of the most annoying things about Don Cherry is his habit of reminding viewers how smart he is when one of his predictions hits the mark. “I told you so” does not work very well in the pundit business. First, he is supposed to be right, so it isn’t a very impressive claim. Second, bragging when he is right kind of obligates him to confess his errors, too, doesn’t it? On the eve of the retirement of Pavel Bure’s number on Hockey Night in Canada and the day that the Sedins inked a spiffy new rich (and richly deserved) contract, I can’t help pointing that Don Cherry was wrong about Pavel Bure and he was wrong about the Sedins. And he wasn’t a little bit wrong. He was off by a million miles on all of them. We don’t have to wonder whether that will be a subject on Coach’s Corner tomorrow night, do we? Even before the Pavel Bure Stanley Cup holdout slander – that was the one Quinn raged about, while Bure responded with “Would... [Read more]